There are many ludicrous reasons why rich and famous would-be buyers of cooperative apartments are turned down by the buildings' boards of directors. The buyers are asking to become members of the co-op and are thoroughly screened for the privilege. Note the reasons are not normally given to the buyers for fear of lawsuits, but are often the news of gossip columnists.
Singer Barbra Streisand was turned down twice in New York City. She was rejected by the co-op at 1021 Park Avenue because she was "a flamboyant type" and by 1107 Fifth Avenue because of the probability that she would set up a recording studio there. She was also rejected by the 740 Park Aveue co-op featured in the attached video and built by Jackie Kennedy Onassis' grandfather James T. Lee. It was once Jackie's home but Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Walters and Neil Sedaka were all rejected there.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, Qatar's prime minister and owner of Harrods store, was rejected in his attempt to buy the two Huguette Clark Fifth Avenue apartments in NYC after her death. CNBC.com reported that it was because Al-Thani would be a challenging tenant. His diplomatic immunity would make it difficult for payment collections if he ran into financial difficulties.
Richard Nixon applied for 19 E. 72nd Street in NYC after the negative publicity of the Watergate scandal and he arrived with an entourage. At first he was approved by the co-op board but, according to the New York Times, shareholders revolted and Nixon's approval was retracted. The building has the reputation of being one of the most difficult to get into other than Park or Fifth avenue addresses. A New York Observer article quotes an anonymous top broker as saying about the ritzy address, "You wouldn't bring in a rap singer into 19 E. 72nd Street — just as you wouldn't take 19 E. 72nd into some rap building. They're divergent cultures."
The top dozen rejection reasons were compiled by Carol Levy, a broker whose specialty is high-end co-ops and condos at Carol E. Levy Real Estate in NYC. There are the common ones like bad credit, job history and financial status, but the more interesting reasons include disruptive lifestyle, "paparazzi prone rock star," or poor pet interviews with potential neighbors' animals which some boards require. Levy suggests not asking questions about things like subletting but instead "one should simply answer all questions succinctly and politely with a pleasant demeanor. In fact, the less said the better."
One potential buyer was reportedly told over the phone by a board president that he was not acceptable because he was single, had a teen son, would bring women over and the son would have no place to go. Another was rejected because his dog's name was Scooby Don't.
Wealthy African 25-year-old Goldwyn Thandrayen, who owns a refrigeration business in Mauritius and global real estate investments, sued the co-op board of 210 E. 36th St. because they rejected him despite his meeting every request including one for a "professional translation" of British documents into English. A board member's email said Thandrayen's "entire financial portfolio is in some tiny little unknown country." Mauritius is an island nation of 1.3 million people off Africa's coast.
NYC Councilman Hiram Monserrate, D-Queens, introduced the Intro 119 bill The Fair and Prompt Co-op Disclosure Law commonly called the written rejection bill. It would give co-op boards five days to supply their rejection reasons to prospective buyers with possible corrections or solutions to change the decision.