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My co-op board is banning washers and dryers. Can I make them pay for the cost of having mine removed?

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Question:

My co-op just ruled that washers and dryers must be removed from existing apartments, and aren't allowed for new buyers. Would the board be responsible for the costs of repairing my kitchen after the removal? And what about the fact that this lowers the resale value of my unit, since I bought the apartment with a washer and dryer. What's my recourse?

Answer:

Unless you stage a coup of your building's co-op board, you're going to have to part with your washer and dryer, and pay for the privilege of doing so, say our experts.

"If acting in good faith and with the best interests of the cooperative and its shareholders in mind, a board of directors could ban the use of washing machines," says Jeffrey S. Reich, a real estate attorney with SSRGA. And to make sure that the ban is enforced, says Reich, the board is also within its rights to require that washers and dryers be capped off or even removed from the building.

Additionally, says Reich, "the co-op would not become responsible for the cost of repairs to apartments that may be necessitated [by the ban], or for any decrease in the value of the apartments."

Unless you have a written agreement that your washer and dryer were grandfathered in, or have a reasonable claim that you need them for health reasons (more details on both here), your only other option is to overhaul the board so that it's made up of a more pro-washer-dryer contingent.

"Your recourse could be to vote out the board, and to vote in favor of a board that would seek an alternative solution to the problem which caused the original board to ban washers and dryers in the first place," says Reich. We've got a full guide on successfully running a co-op board campaign—and mobilizing your neighbors—here.

On the plus side, it's not likely that you're in for a huge dip in property values once you get rid of your laundry setup. As Reich points out, whatever plumbing problems the board is presumably seeking to address by getting rid of washers would very likely put just as much of a damper on future sales. Now, it's time to either overhaul your building's board, or get familiar with your nearest wash and fold.


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