Category Archives: Real Estate

It’s My Party (Wall) and I’ll (Sue) If I Want To. [It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To. Leslie Gore (1963)]

This was originally published on the SGR blog

Kai and Doris Chang own a townhouse  on East 92nd Street.  A limited liability company (LLC) owns the townhouse next door. The party wall is 40 feet high and was originally one foot thick.

The LLC hired Trident Restoration to do extensive renovations on its property, including relocating the bathrooms and kitchen and altering the building’s plumbing.

The Changs discovered a hole in the third-floor bedroom of the their townhouse; pipework anchored brackets installed on their side of the party wall, running the full height of the building; and another hole on the second floor, directly under the third-floor breach.

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“Baseball is a game of inches.” Branch Rickey

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

And often so is construction. A recent case illustrates the point:

A Romanian Orthodox Christian Church in Elmhurst, Queens is adjacent to a construction site. Defendants were building a substantial residential apartment building next door. For construction to proceed, a retaining wall was built very close to the Church property line. The Church hired a professional surveyor who found that the steel piles encroached on the north end of the Church’s western property line by 2.5 inches and at the south end of its western property line by 3.25 inches. The survey also showed that the wood lagging encroached on the Church’s property at the north end of its western property line by 3.25 inches and at the south end of its western property line by 3.75 inches.

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Enforcement Delayed is Enforcement Denied

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

Some residential buildings are “pet friendly”—and some are not.  But even where a lease in New York City prohibits household pets, the Administrative Code creates a “safe harbor” for animals when the landlord  fails to start a summary (eviction) proceeding for breach of the lease within three months of learning of the violation.

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Court-Imposed Access for “Underpinning” Next Door

Originally published on the SGR Blog.

CUCS Housing Development Fund Corporation  and several related entities sued under RPAPL § 881  for Court-imposed  access, for the  purpose of underpinning  a neighboring property on West 12th Street owned by  Clifford S. Aymes.  Underpinning is  the extension of the foundation of one property to below the foundation of a neighboring parcel.

CUCS was trying to begin a construction project to provide New York City’s homeless population with affordable housing. Aymes owned the one-story, unoccupied building adjoining  the project.

The New York City Building Code  required CUCS take careful measures to protect public safety and to prevent damages to Aymes’ property during the building’s construction.

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And on the Third Day…

Originally published on the SGR Blog

Dry land has been around—well, according to the Bible,  since the third  day of  the Creation.  So it is not surprising that disputes relating to ownership of real property often have their “Genesis”  in facts, circumstances and documents with ancient pedigree.  A recent case, in which the Town of Southampton and the Freeholder Trustees sued for a judgment declaring them to be the sole owners of  real estate on the shore of Moriches Bay, Suffolk County, reached and searched back to a decree promulgated in 1686 and a statute enacted  in 1818.

The case arose out of  a dispute over whether the movement of sand caused by storms affected the ownership of certain property. Suit was filed against the Incorporated Village of West Hampton Dunes and owners of property located on the north side of Dune Road, just south of Moriches Bay.

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ISSUES IN ESTABLISHING AN EASEMENT OVER REAL PROPERTY

Law school real property textbooks abound with cases addressing adverse possession, right-of-way disputes and various types of easements (prescriptive, of necessity, and otherwise).  Contemporary decisions still address those usual generic, threshold issues, but also the more granule issues of the location, size and permitted uses of easements, rights of way.  Several recent examples follow.

DiDonato v. Dyckman, 2018 NY Slip Op 08113, App. Div. 2nd Dept. (November 28, 2018) Continue reading

Co-op Boards Are Not Quality-Control Watchdogs

Copyright  by,  and republished with permission of, Habitat Magazine

Wade and Vanessa Johnson thought they were getting a “triple mint” luxury unit when they bought a gut-renovated apartment from the sponsor of a cooperative conversion at 1150 Fifth Avenue. But after the closing, the Johnsons learned that there were numerous conditions in the apartment that were not up to code – or actually dangerous – most of which had been concealed.

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Nuisance on Central Park West

Originally published on the SGR Blog.

A Central Park West condominium sued the owner of a first floor unit and her son for breach of contract and nuisance. The Board wanted to enjoin them from smoking marijuana and making excessive noise in their unit. At the outset, the Supreme Court issued a preliminary injunction that prohibited defendants from smoking marijuana and permitting marijuana smoke and excessively loud noises from infiltrating into the common areas and other units of the condominium. And several months later the Court addressed the application for a permanent injunction.

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Measure Twice. Buy Once. Never Sue.

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

It happens all the time in New York City. Someone buys an apartment relying, without further investigation, on statements made by a sales agent – and then learns, too late, that the statements were incorrect. According to a news report, it happened last year to a purchaser, who placed a $1 million down payment on a $10.5 million Chelsea condo after being told by the selling agent that the ceilings in the under-construction apartment would be “just shy of 10 feet tall” – high enough to accommodate her extensive art collection. However, when she later reviewed the offering plan and measured the finished apartment, she learned that the ceilings were not the anticipated height. She has had to sue to recover her down payment.

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IS THAT POSSESSION LEGALLY ADVERSE?

To establish a claim of title to real property by adverse possession, a party must demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that the possession was (1) hostile and under claim of right, (2) actual, (3) open and notorious, (4) exclusive, and (5) continuous for the statutory period of 10 years.

Needless to say, each and every element of the formula has developed a unique and discrete body of law – pursuant to which a final disposition is, as often than not, fact-specific.  Several recent examples follow.

Mazzei v. Metropolitan Trans. Auth., 2018 NY Slip Op 06007, App. Div. 2nd Dept. (September 12, 2018) Continue reading