Corporate and Real Estate Clinic

low-income-coops

Fall semester ’17 clinic students:
Top row—Stephanie McPeake ’19, George Peters ’18, Blaise Gibson ’19, Leo Suh ’18, and Peter Karuppiah ‘18
Seated—Alia Soomro ’19, Maybelline Guido ’19 and Iantha Stewart ‘18

Representing Financially Distressed Low-Income Cooperatives in all Boroughs

Increasing affordable housing units in New York City is a two-pronged effort involving both the construction of new units and the preservation of existing affordable units.Brooklyn Law School students are in the forefront of the preservation effort in the Corporate and Real Estate Clinic which provides free legal assistance for financially distressed low-income cooperatives (also known as Housing Development Fund Corporations or HDFC’s) where many of the City’s affordable units are found. Approximately twenty-five of these co-ops in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx—representing over 400 units of housing—receive help each year from eight to ten students each semester. The clinic does not handle any litigation, but students do assist with:

  • Loan closings (to pay for rehabilitation work and tax arrears)
  • Shareholder meetings (for elections, by-law and proprietary lease amendments, and approvals of regulatory agreements)
  • Unit closings on behalf of co-op boards (either when the co-op owns the unit or is acting as transfer agent when a shareholder sells).  The clinic generally does not represent individual buyers and sellers.
  • No-action letters and building transfers for not-for-profit HDFCs seeking to become business corporations.
  • Consultations regarding policies and other on-going issues.
  • Applications for real estate tax forgiveness and real estate tax caps.
  • Removal of expired mortgages and agreements with the City.

Once or twice a year students also present seminars for numerous co-op board members and shareholders on current issues of concern.

Students gain unique transactional experience, learning to resolve title issues, review and negotiate loan documents, draft and negotiate contracts of sale, conduct closings, advise board of directors, and organize shareholder meetings.

The Corporate and Real Estate Clinic is affiliated with the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (“CUBE”).

Fall Semester 2017 Highlights

  • A busy semester for the eight Corporate and Real Estate students culminated with a December 6 closing that almost didn’t happen. The student team, Peter Karuppiah (’18) and Maybelline Guido (’19), realized several weeks ago while reviewing the budget and estimated title bill that there wouldn’t be enough money in the loan to cover tax arrears as well as closing costs. They negotiated to reduce a $571,750 Worker’s Compensation Board judgment to a $18,000 payment plan, but the client still had very little money available to add to the lender funds. When the lender offered an additional $90,000 on December 5, the students quickly reviewed the new loan documents, prepared additional resolutions and conducted the closing.

    Also on December 5, students Alia Soomro (’19) and Iantha Stewart (’18) traveled with Professor Debbie Bechtel to Kelly Street in the Bronx where they met with four co-op board members and two representatives of the City’s Green Loan Program. The students fielded questions and obtained board approval for a regulatory agreement that was required in order to proceed with a $1,600,000 dollar loan to install solar panels and new windows in the twenty-one unit building as well as to re-finance existing debt and obtain a real estate tax exemption.

    The Bronx was also a destination for Blaise Gibson (’19) and Leo Suh (’18). They met with co-op shareholders to approve a regulatory agreement required for a tax exemption. For another building, they negotiated a contract of sale to facilitate the sale of a unit. Finally, for a third client, they did preparatory work for a loan closing, particularly in regard to the satisfaction of an existing mortgage.

    Stephanie McPeake (’19) and George Peters (’18) conducted a loan closing in October for a low-income cooperative after carefully reviewing and negotiating the mortgage. In addition, they joined a the long line of Corporate and Real Estate Clinic students---six or seven years of teams---in the effort to transfer a Lower East Side building to a business corporation so it can operate as a cooperative and eliminate over 3 million dollars in real estate tax arrears. Stephanie and George made extensive revisions in a petition to the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau and drafted an amendment to the certificate of incorporation. Professor Bechtel, who is the clinic’s founder and director, supervised all of the teams.

    low-income-coops

    Back row: Stephanie McPeake, George Peters, Blaise Gibson, Leo Suh and Peter Karuppiah
    Front row: Alia Soomro, Maybelline Guido and Iantha Stewart

Brooklyn Law School - Clinics Education

Learn more about our Clinical Education Experience.

Have questions? We have answers.

Co-op boards (and dissident shareholder groups) seeking assistance may contact:

Debra Bechtel
Associate Professor of Clinical Law
111 Livingston Street
Telephone: (718) 780-7994
Fax: (718) 780-0367
Email: debra.bechtel@brooklaw.edu