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Court Finds Issues of Facts Surrounding Cooperative’s Termination of Tenancy for Unauthorized Washing Machine

A Cooperative Board of Directors adopted a new House Rule that prohibited tenant-shareholders from having washing machines in their apartments. A flood occurred in a shareholder’s apartment, caused by the failure of her “grandfathered” washing machine.  The Cooperative then demanded that the shareholder remove the washing machine.  The shareholder removed the old machine but installed a new one, without the Board’s knowledge at the time.

The Cooperative demanded that the shareholder remove the new washing machine as being prohibited under the House Rule.  The Board asserted that the House Rule was adopted because washing machines in apartments place an undue burden on the building’s plumbing systems and that it “intended to phase out the existing washing machines over time as they became inoperable.”  In other words, the “courtesy” of allowing shareholders to keep already-installed washing machines “was not intended to allow the shareholders with grandfathered washing machines to replace their currently installed units in perpetuity.”  The shareholder, on the other hand, contended that the House Rule allowed a shareholder who had a washing machine as of the date the rule was adopted to continue to have one, including by replacing an old machine with a new one where necessary.