Monthly Archives: January 2021

Tenant Claims Habitability Breach Amounts to Harassment

Copyright by, and republished with permission of, Apartment Law Insider.

When landlords take tenants to court over nonpayment of rent, tenants often claim as a defense that the landlord breached the warranty of habitability. But, as a recent case illustrates, a tenant may preemptively claim such a breach before a landlord acts to evict—and argue not only that that the breach was aggravated by the pandemic, but that it amounted to harassment for which the tenant should be awarded a civil penalty.

In evaluating the merits of the breach of warranty claim, the court in this case considered the inconvenience to the tenant due to the pandemic as an aggravating factor. And then it conducted a detailed analysis in determining whether a civil penalty was in order.

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Co-op Board Learns That Emails Can Bite Back

Copyright by, and republished with permission of, Habitat Magazine.

The brawl begins. Back in 2017, the actors Justin Theroux and his then-wife Jennifer Aniston got approval from their Greenwich Village co-op board to combine their apartment with the newly acquired apartment next door, then embark on a $1 million renovation of the expanded space. But the downstairs neighbors, Norman and Barbara Rescinow, complained about excessive noise from the renovation work. A war of words erupted – including charges of harassment, voyeurism, and animal and spousal cruelty, plus a dispute over access to the shared roof deck. Eventually the brawl wound up in court, where a judge placed a restraining order on Norman Rescinow, forbidding him from trespassing on Theroux’s property or from using “abusive language” when addressing the co-op board or potential witnesses in the mushrooming litigation.

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Hit by Falling Towel Dispenser – Res Ipsa Loquitur: “The Thing Speaks for Itself”

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Res ipsa loquitur is the Latin phrase describing a legal doctrine that infers negligence from the very nature of an accident or injury in the absence of any behavior or activity by the aggrieved person.

In most negligence cases, the plaintiff must establish a duty of care, breach of that duty, causation, and injury. But under res ipsa loquitur, the first three elements are inferred from an injury that does not ordinarily occur without negligence. 

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Bad Faith in Rejecting Sale of Unit Leads to Damages: Board Breached Fiduciary Duty to Apartment Owner

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

The Business Judgment Rule was put to the test in a recent case where Sharie Graham, the owner of a co-op apartment on the Upper East Side, charged the Board with bad faith in refusing to approve the sale of her unit to the Soffens, two physicians from New Jersey, for use as a pied a terre.

Graham sued her 420 East 72nd Street residential cooperative apartment building’s Board of Directors for refusing to approve proposed buyers of her unit. The main issue for trial was whether the Board acted in bad faith– because the proprietary lease for the coop provided that the Board could refuse to approve a sale for “any reason and no reason”. Both sides conceded, however, that the clause could not insulate the Board from decisions involving bad faith. After a trial, the Court found that Graham proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Board acted in bad faith.

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