Long-Term Resident Is Shareholder Entitled to Proprietary Lease
LVT Number: #24804
Tenant sued cooperative corporation, seeking a declaration that he was a shareholder entitled to a proprietary lease. Tenant moved into the building in 1982. In 1984, the building converted to cooperative ownership. Tenant claimed that he purchased his apartment by paying a $250 fee to the corporation's agent. In 1991, tenant was elected to the co-op's board of directors and served as secretary on the board for 10 years. Tenant was very active in the affairs of the corporation. He testified on its behalf in lawsuits, represented it in public forums, signed share certificates, and voted his shares. But in 2002, the corporation began to question whether tenant actually was a shareholder. In 2011, facing possible eviction, tenant started the court action.
The court ruled for tenant, finding that proof that he had purchased shares was overwhelming. Tenant submitted an Agreement to Purchase dated Nov. 1, 1984, and signed by the then-corporation president. He testified credibly that he paid the $250 by money order in 1985 to Nancy Mathis, a former board president, that he received a copy of the offering plan, and signed a copy of the proprietary lease--but never received a fully executed copy from the corporation. He said that Mathis kept putting him off. In the late 1990s, tenant helped the corporation hire its attorney to sue Mathis, seeking to compel her to turn over corporation records. Mathis never did so, and the corporation representative's testimony was somewhat vague, inconsistent, and admittedly unsure of the facts. The court declared that tenant was the rightful and legal owner of the cooperative shares and was entitled to a proprietary lease. Any pending eviction action against tenant must be dismissed.
Terry v. 241 West 111th Street HDFC: Index No. 106989/11, NYLJ No. 1202594797843 (Sup. Ct. NY; 4/8/13; Engoron, J)