Condominium Conversion Plans
(Vacant buildings and New Construction)
Our office is handling over 16 separate small townhouse buildings being converted to condominium ownership in the borough of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Each of these buildings are vacant, and will be converted into separate condominium developments.
Conversion of an occupied building has become much more problematic. With the passage of the 2019 Tenant Protection Act, 51% of the bona fide tenants in an occupied building must agree to purchase a condominium apartment if the building is to be converted into condominiums.
Buildings that have become recently vacant after the tenants have left can be difficult as well. There cannot be a history of tenant harassment or evidence that apartments have been kept empty for excessive periods of time prior to filing for conversion.
Indeed, building owners should be careful not to “warehouse” apartments by not renting them as they become vacant if they are contemplating a conversion plan. In New York City, Nassau, Rockland and Westchester Counties, this practice is restricted; a conversion plan may be rejected by the Attorney General if excessive warehousing has occurred.
The rule has been that if the Attorney General determines that the number of vacant apartments has exceeded 10% of the total number of rental units in the building for a period of more than 5 months, and if that vacancy rate is double the “normal” average vacancy rate for the previous two calendar years, the offering plan may not be accepted for filing.
There is a subjective review of the circumstances:
- what was the normal turnover for the building?
- have units been vacant for several months without attempting to re rent?
- have there been any complaints concerning the building condition? and
- has the landlord been bringing eviction actions and why?
These questions are asked, and the Attorney General will make a determination concerning harassment and warehousing on a case by case basis. The AG will demand affidavits and other proof of non-harassment and non-warehousing.
Under the circumstances of the last year, there has been a significant migration out of the City due to COVID; if there has been no history of tenant harassment, a building may still qualify even if there have been extended vacancies.
Daniel C. Marotta, Esq. has over 25 years experience in condominium offering plan conversions, development, purchases and sales.