Q. The rental income from a condo I own has been keeping me going since I lost my job recently.  I'm two months late on the common charges, however, and until I get a job, I'm not sure when I will be able to catch up. In the meantime, I need the rental income to live.  

Can the condo board take the rent and apply it to common charges?

A.  Yes, say our legal experts.

"Almost every set of condominium bylaws contains a provision permitting the board to take an assignment of rent from a tenant if the owner defaults," says co-op and condo attorney Robert Braverman of Braverman & Associates.  

Even if you should be so lucky not to have one of these provisions in your bylaws, notes Braverman, the New York State Condominium Act gives your board the right to your rental income.

Under Real Property Law Section 339-kk, your board can commandeer rent payments if you are more than 60 days late on your common charges, explains Jeffrey Reich of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz.

The law was enacted in 1998 after the last real estate recession, says Stuart Saft, a real estate lawyer at Holland & Knight.  

"It was intended to protect the other unit owners from being required to subsidize the defaulting unit owner's renting the money and keeping the proceeds," says Saft.

There is one technicality that could buy you a little more time, however:  The board must give you and your renter an opportunity to attend a meeting to contest the decision within 30 days of being served notice of the board's intent to claim the rent, explains real estate attorney Eric Goidel of Borah Goldstein Altschuler Nahins & Goidel.


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