As State Vice-President-Michigan for the Midwestern Association of Housing Cooperatives (MAHC), I would like to invite you to attend the 2019 MAHC Certified Cooperative Specialist (CCS) program on October 5-6, 2019 at Georgetown Cooperative in Taylor, Michigan.

Who or what is a Certified Cooperative Specialist?  Quite simply, it’s you, the board member.  We all know that continuing education plays an important role in becoming a good board member.  What better way to show your members you possess the knowledge and skills necessary to work successfully with other board members and members of the cooperative than by receiving a CCS certificate.

What does the program cover?  Quite a lot.  Taught by leading cooperative housing experts, over the course of a day and a half, you will receive in-depth training on the following topics:

  1. History and Types of Cooperatives
  2. Legal Operations
  3. Financial Operations
  4. Business of Cooperatives

You can find more information about MAHC at

Co-ops are better, and we can prove it

by admin on June 9, 2017

At a time when policymakers and housing advocates explore new approaches to affordable homeownership, it is useful to look back on the superior track record that co-ops have amassed over several decades, and to recognize the role of NAHC publications in bringing this research to light. Here are six key findings.

1.    Cooperative housing produces significantly higher quality of life for the resident as compared to affordable rental housing.

Mushrush, Larson, and Krause, Social Benefits of Affordable Housing Cooperatives, Center for Cooperatives, University of California at Davis, 1997

Saegert, Susan,“Survey of Residents of Currently and Previously City-Owned Buildings in the Bronx” in Housing in the Balance: Seeking a Comprehensive Policy for City-Owned Housing, Task Force on City-Owned Property, 1994

Saegert, Susan,“What We Have to Work With: The Lessons of the Task Force Surveys” in No More Housing of Last Resort: The Importance of Affordability and Resident Participation in In Rem Housing, Task Force on City-Owned Property, 1996

Altus and Mathews, “A Look at Satisfaction of Rural Seniors with Cooperative Housing,” Cooperative Housing Journal, 1997

2.    The higher level of participation in broadly-based, regularly functioning resident associations in low-income cooperatives, as compared to affordable rental housing, was effective in preventing in-building crime as demonstrated by crime statistics over a six-month period.

Saegart and Winkel, “Cooperative Housing, Social Capital and Crime Prevention,” Cooperative Housing Journal, 2001

3.    Limited equity cooperatives create social capital that powers social activism that preserves affordable housing an maintains diversity in a hot gentrifying urban market.

Saegert and Extein, “Limited Equity Cooperatives Reinforce Anti-gentrification Measures, Cooperative Housing Journal, 2003

4.    Cooperatives lowered monthly housing costs to residents by more than 20% compared to physically similar affordable rental housing managed by the same management companies.

Parliament, Vonnegut, and Parliament, “Keeping Housing Affordable: Cooperative vs. Absentee Ownership,” Cooperative Housing Journal, 1998

5.    Manufactured home owners experience appreciation in the value of their homes in a cooperatively owned park, and pay 7% lower monthly fees than residents in rental parks.

Ward, French, and Giraud, “Effect of Cooperative Ownership on Appreciation of Manufactured Housing,” Cooperative Housing Journal, 2005

6.    Limited equity co-ops do a better job of preserving affordability than the community land trusts and programs using deed restrictions.

Temkin, Theodos and Price, Balancing Affordability and Opportunity; An Evaluation of Affordable Homeownership with Long Term Affordability Controls, The Urban Institute, 2010

7.    Cooperatives are a lower risk to lenders and the government.

A.    In an analysis of defaults of FHA-insured multi-family loans in the 221(d)(3) and 236 mortgage subsidy programs between 1958 and 1993, cooperatives had a lower default rate than rental properties owned by both for-profit and non-profit entities.

Calhoun and Walker, Performance of HUD Subsidized Loans: Does Cooperative Ownership Matter, The Urban Institute, 1994

B.    The FHA Section 213 market rate co-op mortgage insurance program has returned unneeded and unused premiums to the co-op buildings in every year of its existence. Section 213 has the lowest default rate of any FHA multifamily or single family program.

C.    The National Co-op Bank reports that of its 4386 co-op building loans, none were in foreclosure as of June 30, 2011, and the delinquency rate is less than one hundredth of one percent.
NCB also services 7388 share loans for co-op members. The bulk of those are in New York City, where NCB has experienced no foreclosures. Below is a comparison of the status of NCB’s co-op portfolio and Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s conventional single family loans and multifamily rental loans as of June 30, 2011.


           Single family                 Multifamily rental
90 days+ deliquent     60 days+ deliquent

Fannie Mae                     4.08%                              0.46%
Freddie Mac                    3.50%                              0.31%

Share loans                     Co-op blanket mortgages
90+ days delinquent     60+ days deliquent
NCB co-op loans            1.88%                              0.008%

[courtesy of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives]

Courtesy of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, check out this report on the size and strength of our national cooperative community.

Multifamily Better Buildings Challenge

by admin on April 29, 2014

Click here for a memo regarding the Multifamily Better Buildings Challenge Incentive: Allowable Management Add-on Fees.

HUD Tracking Travel Expenses

by admin on April 5, 2014

If your client or you are on the Board or a member of a cooperative that is supervised under HUD, please note the following:

Many management companies charge travel expenses to the site. If during the HUD audit the proper documentation is not set forth, the management company ends up reimbursing the site for those expenses. With this being said, it is very important that the management company establishes a “Travel Policy”. HUD auditors have found improper or excessive travel expenses, insufficient or lack of proper documentation or lack of a travel policy to control travel expenses.  Management should have a travel policy to make sure that the expenses are legitimate and reasonable travel expenses. Part of the policy should include a detailed travel expense form for any employee who is authorized to travel. In the policy it should state; when is travel permitted; detailed on how to make travel arrangements; what expenses are permitted, which ones are not; use of company credit cards, cash and out-of pocket expenses and how to fill out the travel expense form.

Please pass this information on to those management companies that might be effected by this new HUD audit procedure.

HUD Multifamily Policy Priorities

by admin on March 23, 2014

The new Program Administration Office of HUD recently identified 25 policy priorities. These priorities are currently on the time cycle for completion. To read about these new policy priorities as well as a list of policy goals, PAO staff and subject matter experts, click here to view the HUD Multifamily Policy Priorities memo.

NAHC 2013 Annual Progress Report

by admin on March 23, 2014

Click here to view a PDF of NAHC’s 2013 Annual Progress Report

National Association of Housing Cooperative’s 2nd Progress Report – which highlights 2013 activities and accomplishments.  We hope you enjoy taking a look back at last year’s Annual Conference and the many goals we achieved together to strengthen NAHC – America’s Home for Cooperative Housing.

Rejecting a co-operative sales contract

by admin on February 11, 2014

In a story published by the New York Times, the owner of a one bedroom co-op unit, a professional pianist, decided to put her unit on the market for $300,000. The market was not good. As time went on, she lowered the asking price several times and was finally relieved to get an all-cash offer of $225,000, from a fellow musician no less. The contract was signed, moving plans were put into motion and then the co-op board rejected the buyer’s application. Officially, the board gave no reason for the rejection, but several board members acknowledged privately that the low selling price was the deciding factor. The reasoning goes: selling units at low prices is simply not good business.

For many years, the conventional wisdom, supported by case law, was that a co-op’s board’s rejection of a unit transfer based upon what the board perceived as an inadequate selling price was an unreasonable, and illegal, restraint on the alienation of property. Several more recent court decisions, however, reveal that that view may be evolving, allowing that such decisions are within a board’s business judgment.

In the case of Harris v. Seward Park Housing Corp., a buyer/applicant filed a breach-of-contract claim against the co-op board complaining of the board’s rejection of his contract on the basis that the price was inadequate. The court first noted that the contract itself stated that: “This sale is subject to the unconditional consent of the corporation.” The contract did not include any criteria by which the board was to assess the application of potential purchasers nor did it require the board to provide any reason for rejection. The court concluded that there could be no breach of contract under these circumstances. On appeal, the court similarly concluded that that there never was an enforceable agreement between the parties. The court went on, however, to conclude that the “cooperative had a legitimate business interest in procuring the highest possible price for the sale of its units.”

In another case, Matter of Hershkowitz v. White House Owner’s Corp., the administrator of an estate sought to force a co-op board to consent to a sales contract of the decedent’s co-op to a third party. The board acknowledged that its refusal was based on the contract being substantially below market value and the court noted that the proprietary lease regarding the unit placed no restrictions on the board in determining whether to accept or refuse a contract of sale. Ultimately, the court did not decide on the facts of the case, but decided that the issue of the co-op board’s refusal was a question to be determined under the business judgment rule. (The business judgment rule provides, essentially, that courts will exercise restraint in reviewing the decisions of businesses as long as they operate in good faith.)

Any co-op board contemplating acting to reject a sale on adequate selling price should consult with an attorney experienced in co-op law to evaluate this evolving area of the law.

The 53rd annual NAHC Conference was a smashing success this year! NAHC members from around the country met at the Grand Hyatt in Seattle from October 30th to November 2nd to hear educational presentations, present and witness prestigious awards, and to welcome new Officers and Board Members for the 2013-2014 year.

NAHC attendees were able to hear several presentations on various housing cooperative topics.

One of the major presentations at the conference was a talk on Multifamily FHA Financing, which was presented by Dan Sullivan. Sullivan discussed the basics of FHA financing and then went further by describing management issues that one should consider when financing.

The keynote speaker of the conference was Teresa Young, an Organizational Development Specialist, who spoke about “Leadership from the Bottom Up.” Young’s presentation looked at the nature of leadership and how out-of-the-box leadership practices can benefit the cooperative as a whole.

Two of our firm’s attorneys were lecturers at the conference. Attorneys April Knoch and Creighton Gallup co-taught two courses while out in Seattle. On Thursday, they assisted Ralph Marcus and Greg Carlson on a required course for those seeking Registered Certified Managers status. The presentation provided numerous tips for site managers to assure they fulfill their legal obligation to the cooperative and to avoid pitfalls that increase chances for liability.

Creighton and April had their own presentation on Friday titled “Corporate Governance: Legal and Legislative Issues.” The class was standing room only (literally), filled to brim with both Board Members and managers alike, who attended to hear Creighton and April’s thoughts on making effective Cooperative policy. The two attorneys discussed a variety of issues and hot topics that cooperatives encounter on a daily basis. Topics ranged from governance hierarchies, drafting and amending cooperative governing documents, embezzlement and fraud, effective interactions with their cooperative attorney, medical marijuana, and policies regarding aggressive breeds of pets, among others. The large number of attendees, coupled with the interactive presentation and anecdotes, made the event highly energetic and informative for those in attendance.

The awards ceremony was another major highlight of the conference. NAHC individuals and whole cooperatives were recognized and awarded for their service to and the advancement of the housing cooperative community.

Winners included: David L. Thompson for the Jerry Voorhis Memorial Award; Rosie White for the Cooperative Distinguished Service Award; Belleville Cooperative Apartments for the Cooperative Star Award; Alexandra Wilson, Agency for Co-Operative Housing of Canada, for the Development & Presentation Award; and Mary Alex Blanton and Anne Fedorchak, National Cooperative Band, for the President’s Award.

Attendees also welcomed the new 2013-2014 NAHC Officers and Board Members. They include Chairman Ralph Marcus, President Gregory Carlson, Executive Vice President Fred Gibbs, Secretary Anne Hill, and Treasurer Linda Brockway. The new Board Members were Donna Marie Curvin, Blaine Honeycutt, and Hugh Jeffers.

Our own Managing Shareholder Randall Pentiuk was appointed as a MAHC Representative and was reelected to the Executive Committee, a move that reflects his tireless work and commitment to the advancement of housing cooperatives everywhere.

NAHC is excited about its new leaders and anticipates another great year of advancing the knowledge, practices, and advancement of housing cooperatives.

Seattle was an excellent venue for the conference and hopefully one that can be revisited soon. The 53rd Annual Conference was an amazing experience, and NAHC would like to thank all those who made the success possible.

We now turn our attention to the MAHC Conference in May 2014 where we will visit New Orleans and enjoy another round of stimulating and cutting edge classes. Hope to see you there!

One of the big problems we run into with Housing Cooperatives is that this form of home ownership is such a big mystery.  Consequently, financial institutions miss a large business opportunity to provide loans to people interested in buying Cooperative units, or those already living in Cooperatives that want to finance improvements or draw some of their equity out.   Most banks and even credit unions (which is surprising since they are based upon cooperative principles themselves) do not have a clue that they can safely make secure loans to such borrowers, using the share itself as collateral, coupled with an agreement between it and the Cooperative that recognizes the loan to the member and provides remedies upon a default by the member,neither with the loan or the carrying charge payments.

There are a few exceptions.   Down in Atlanta, Housing Cooperatives are working among themselves to make share loans on a limited basis.  There is also one major lender in the field that makes share loans, but our experience thus far is that this bank is seriously deficient when it comes to servicing the loans, causing a terrible amount of frustration, not to mention legal problems, for those Cooperatives that have the misfortune of being saddled with this institution that does not respond to routine requests associated with these loan transactions.

We are working on changing this.  At Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak,  we are engaged in discussions with area credit unions to expose them to the opportunity.   In addition,  NAHC has formed a committee, and I have been appointed to serve on it.   Our committee is laying plans for a pilot project to try a share loan program in the Detroit market.   Finally, I have had preliminary discussions with some clients on starting a credit union comprised of Housing Cooperatives that will provide all types of financing for the needs of the Cooperatives and their members.

I believe that the time has come to fill this void in the financial realm.  One way or another, it appears that share loans will soon become a common tool.  Stay tuned for more.

Randall A. Pentiuk,  Esq.