Just because a co-op board carefully scrutinizes its future residents doesn’t guarantee you’ll all live happily ever after under one roof. In yet another illustration of this truism, Habitat Magazine brings word of one co-op dweller who'd taken to feeding wild animals in the complex's garden area against the rules. Not only did this raise the hackles of the neighbors—they were worried about attracting raccoons and feral cats, as well as the risk of rabies and, um, animal poop—it also violated the building's explicit ban on feeding the wildlife. After 10-plus years of written notices and surveillance footage documenting daily feedings—not to mention the resident trying to dislodge the video camera with a broom—the board was finally fed up (ahem) enough to act.
Indeed, co-ops have a not-so-secret weapon when it comes to evicting rogue shareholders, and it's known as a Pullman action (so named for a nasty neighbor who was successfully sued by the board of the building where he lived). Not surprisingly, there’s a right and a wrong way to get rid of someone:
• Let the annoying neighbor know he’s breaking the rules and give him the chance to reform: Only shareholders that continue misconduct after written notice can be evicted. (Of course, you may not want to leave it for a decade.)
• Gather evidence: Make sure you have solid proof of the neighbor’s misdeeds in the form of a timeline of incidents, paper trail of notices, photographs and, as in this situation, video footage.
• Call a meeting of the shareholders: Give everyone involved notice of the meeting (10 to 40 days notice is the norm). Make sure you call a “special” versus “regular” meeting and state its purpose to alert board members of its importance. Have a stenographer on hand to document the proceedings and ensure both sides have had the opportunity to be heard, and witnesses, too, to substantiate the behavior. In this case, the board met with the shareholder and their attorney.
• Serve a termination notice, and then, head to court to have the case resolved.