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Forgoing Window Replacement

September 12, 2015

By Ronda Kaysen

Forgoing Window Replacement

Our co-op board has announced a window replacement project for the entire building because some owners have difficulty operating the windows. The owners of each apartment must provide access to the windows, which means removing and reinstalling all window treatments and, in our case, custom built-in furniture around the windows. This will be costly and inconvenient. (Good luck finding a craftsman willing to do this relatively small job.) Are we permitted to opt out of the replacement project? Our existing windows are fine.

Upper West Side

Windows are a bigger deal than you might think. When buildings want new ones, they invariably want to change them all for reasons of energy efficiency but also to maintain a uniform appearance. A patchwork of different window styles could look odd. But residents who have to live with the new windows might not want to shoulder the cost or inconvenience of having them installed and might not see a problem with the ones they already have.

In your case, replacing the windows sounds as if it would cause you some upheaval. Unfortunately, you may have little choice but to go along with the plan. A co-op’s governing documents typically allow the building access to shareholder units for repairs, replacements or upgrades of building systems. Windows typically fall into this category, according to Adam Leitman Bailey, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. If you were to refuse to let the co-op replace the windows, the co-op could sue you, potentially leaving you on the hook for both the building’s legal fees and your own.

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