Virtual meetings could become a permanent fixture for housing cooperatives and condo associations in New York if two bills successfully become law.
One bill authorizing full-remote participation was approved by state lawmakers over the summer, but has yet to be delivered to the governor’s desk for final approval. If signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, housing cooperatives, among other groups, would get the green light to host completely remote sessions.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in the spring of 2020, New York housing cooperatives have been permitted to meet remotely under an executive order signed by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a subsequent amendment to state law set to expire in three months.
But those measures were intended to be temporary because of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
With COVID-19 still very present, along with the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant, New York state lawmakers earlier this year passed an amendment to the Business Corporation Law allowing shareholders and members to primarily meet virtually, which the long-standing law currently prohibits.
A similar piece of legislation intended for condominium associations would amend the state’s Real Property Law and permit full-remote attendance. That bill has yet to be voted on by either of the state’s legislative bodies.
If both bills succeed, it would mark a significant change in how housing cooperatives and condo associations conduct their affairs. Historically, shareholders and members of both groups have for the most part been required to be physically present to meet a quorum.
Like with many other aspects of society, COVID-19 forced many of us to change our behavior. In short order, remote gatherings became the norm, and housing cooperatives and condo associations were no exception.
In response to the pandemic, many associations, including those that would be impacted by these bills, transitioned to remote meetings and elections to protect their members. That not only meant a greater emphasis on video conferencing but also online voting, which had been gaining in popularity long before the pandemic struck.
While the fate of the pair of bills is up in the air, some are optimistic.
Democratic State Sen. Liz Krueger, who sponsored the Real Property Law amendment in her chamber, told Habitat magazine that there’s many benefits of remote meetings, including scheduling, convenience and because they’re more accessible.
“Although the Legislature successfully passed a bill this year to give co-op and non-profit boards the ability to continue holding remote meetings, condos were left out,” she said. “There's no reason for this to be the case; condos and coops are equally capable of holding remote meetings, and this oversight in the law should be fixed.”