Installing a ‘Banned’ Washer

September 16, 2007



Q I’ve bought a co-op in a building that was converted in the ’70s and still has rent-stabilized tenants. Our proprietary lease prohibits washing machines, except for renters who had them before the conversion.

I have a small, energy-efficient portable machine that I bought before I moved. I would like to use it, especially since the laundry room in our basement is filthy and many of the machines do not work properly. The lease does not specify a penalty for breaking this rule. What could happen if I did?

A Ultimately, the matter will depend on how active, vigilant and hard-line the co-op board is.

Lior Aldad, a Manhattan co-op and condominium lawyer, explained the legal ramifications: when the letter writer bought her apartment and signed the proprietary lease, she agreed to abide by all of its terms and conditions.

In most cases, Mr. Aldad said, if a shareholder fails to comply with any term of the lease, whether it’s not paying the monthly maintenance or installing an unauthorized washing machine, the proprietary lease requires the co-op corporation to provide the shareholder with a notice of default and an opportunity to cure — removing the washer, in this case.

If the shareholder fails to do this, the co-op board, on behalf of the corporation and its shareholders, can get a court to order the shareholder to comply, or under extreme circumstances, can cancel the shareholder’s proprietary lease and evict him or her from the apartment.