Category Archives: Real Estate

The “Paper Street Rule” Meets the “Practical Location Doctrine” at the Intersection of Centre Avenue and Bay 43rd Street

This was orginally published on the SGR Blog.

Street parking space is an extremely  valuable commodity in New York City, in general, and in densely  populated  residential neighborhoods, in particular. A recent spat between neighbors in Brooklyn implicated both the statute and case law  governing the several elements of a  claim of  title by adverse possession, with the overlay of two Court-made rules or doctrines, as well as a legal presumption and a shifting burden of proof.

Waterview Towers, Inc. and 2610 Cropsey Development Corp. are owners of properties in Brooklyn that abut Centre Place, a private driveway/street. Waterview owns tax block 6933, lot 55. Cropsey owns tax block 6933, lots 48 and 51. A small parking area has existed along the half of Centre Place abutting the Waterview property since prior to Cropsey’s purchase of the neighboring lot in 2005.

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Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Ismael Realty Corp. filed suit to obtain a license for permission to enter upon the adjoining property owned by Helen Zervos in furtherance of a construction project in Astoria, New York. The area in dispute was a concrete alley that separated the neighboring properties.

A three day hearing was held in November, 2019. Abdul Navaraez, Kenneth Philogene, and George King testified on behalf of Ismael. Dennis Zervos, Louis Leonidas Zervos, and Nicholas Politis testified for the Zervos. As a threshold matter, the Court credited the testimony given by the Zervos’ witnesses. To the extent that the testimony of the Ismael’s witnesses was inconsistent with that given by the Zervos’ witnesses, the Court declined to credit such testimony.

Ismael purchased two contiguous lots in Astoria with the intention of erecting a 5 or 6-story residential building. Before construction could begin, it was necessary to demolish the then-existing structures on the two lots.  The properties lie immediately adjacent to the Zervos property, which consists of a 3-family home, with multiple tenants.

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Deposit “Doony(brook)”

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Disputes over the right of a seller to keep, or the duty to return, the down payment on a failed residential contract of sale are common, contentious and fact-specific. And regularly arise out of a contingency clause that conditions the purchaser’s obligation to close on the ability to obtain a mortgage loan. The outcome is often determined by the purchaser’s course of conduct as measured against the language of the contract. Two recent examples follow:

Doony, Inc., owned by Dr. Nonyelu Anyichie, sued Mark Palmiotto to recover a $43,500.00 down payment made in connection with a contract to buy the real property at 126 Mount Vernon Avenue, Mount Vernon, New York. Palmiotto’s attorney, John J. Pacor, Esq., the escrow agent, was also sued.

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Legal “War of the Roses” in Jackson Heights

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Some coop disputes rival for longevity the infamous “War of the Roses” (1455-1485). A recently litigated summary “nuisance” holdover proceeding, that followed the termination  of a residential proprietary lease for “objectionable conduct”, was the end result of more than twenty years of complaints.

Surfair Equities, Inc., a cooperative housing corporation, filed an objectionable conduct holdover proceeding to recover possession of Apt. 3A located at 35-30 73rd Street, Jackson Heights, NY 11435 from Alberto Marin, the shareholder of Apt. 3A.

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Legal “Venting” on Avenue A

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

The rights and privileges of owner of units in residential condominiums and cooperatives in New York are complicated enough, standing alone. But even more complex is a two unit condominium consisting of a street level commercial unit upon which sits a residential unit (the latter of which is a multi-apartment coop).

The various organizational documents in a so-called “cond-op” present challenging factual questions and legal issues when disputes arise. A recent case addressed the question of whether the owner of the commercial unit had the right to install a vent exhaust on the exterior wall of the residential unit.

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New York Co-op Dispute: Did Occupancy of an Apartment Result in Loss of ”Unsold Share” Rights?

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Under the uniform New York co-op lease, the holders of unsold shares enjoy rights in addition to those ordinary shareholders have. Among other things, an apartment lessee who holds a block of unsold shares may sublet the apartment or assign the lease without approval of the coop’s board of directors or other shareholders, as would ordinarily be required. Only the building’s managing agent’s approval is required.

Supreme Court was recently called upon to determine the legal status of shares in a cooperative apartment located at 7 Park Avenue. Bellstell 7 Park Avenue, L.L.C., holder of all the unsold shares, sought a declaration that Seven Park Avenue Corporation impermissibly determined that Bellstell had lost its unsold-shareholder rights with respect to one of the apartments in the building.

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Rules Are [Not] Made to Be Broken

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Supreme Court recently addressed a motion to dismiss claims by residential unit owners—who were holders of unsold shares — that the cooperative’s board of directors had impermissibly amended various rules relating the housing of pets, subleasing and move-in charges.

Ironically, the Court issued an extremely and extraordinarily lengthy summary and analysis of the arguments and counter-arguments with respect to the by-laws and proprietary lease, only to find and conclude that the relevant provisions ran unambiguously in favor of the board.

Murray House, a residential cooperative, owns a building at 220 Madison Avenue. The elected Board of Direct was authorized, pursuant to its by-laws, to manage the business and affairs of the cooperative.

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“Stormy Weather”: [Was] the Sun Up in the Sky?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Joanna Lechowicz sued the Condominium for injuries she allegedly sustained, on March 10, 2014 at approximately 6:25 a.m., when she slipped and fell on snow or ice on the sidewalk abutting 130 Pondfield Road, Bronxville, New York, at or near the property line of 12 Meadow Avenue, Bronxville. Wojcjech Lechowicz sought damages for the alleged loss of consortium arising from Joanna’s accident and injuries.

The Board moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that the “storm in progress” rule applied.

A defendant property owner moving for summary judgment in an action predicated upon the presence of snow and/or ice has the initial burden of establishing prima facie that it neither created the snowy or icy condition that allegedly caused the plaintiff to fall nor had actual or constructive notice of such condition. That burden may be satisfied by offering evidence that there was a storm in progress at the time of the accident. If the defendant meets this initial burden, then the burden shifts to the plaintiff to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the injured plaintiff’s fall was caused by something other than precipitation from the storm in progress.

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Liability is a Matter of Inches

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

Awilka Alonzo  sued Audubon Avenue Housing after she purportedly trip and fell over a metal door saddle in her apartment building’s lobby at the 215 Audubon Avenue Housing Development. She claimed that, on July 10, 2015, she was leaving for work when her left foot bumped into the metal door saddle and she fell. Alonzo contended that the door saddle constituted a defective condition because it was not flush with the tile floor.

Audubon moved for summary judgment on the ground that the metal door saddle did not constitute a defect. Audubon’s expert opined that “the saddle/threshold at the subject premises [was] free of defect in design, installation or maintenance, and does not pose a tripping hazard.” He found that:

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[Brawl] Over Troubled Waters

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Plaintiffs (Joseph Ubiles and Bernice Ubiles) and defendants (Ndingfarae Ngardingabe and Julie Camisuli) own adjoining properties on West 147th Street in Manhattan. Plaintiffs claimed that rain water and snow melt was flowing from defendants’ driveway into their property. Plaintiffs contended that, as a result of the runoff, the foundation and the walls of their home had been damaged. They contended that defendants caused the condition by impermissibly altering the water drainage system in defendants’ driveway and doing nothing to remediate the problem despite plaintiffs’ complaints.

Plaintiffs sued. Defendants moved to dismiss based on the statute of limitations and on plaintiffs’ failure to state a cause of action. Defendants claimed that the driveway was installed in 1989 when two lots (431 and 433 West 147th Street) were merged. Defendants argued that the driveway is pitched towards the street and was not causing damage to plaintiffs’ property. Defendants claimed that,  in 2006, plaintiffs requested  their permission to access defendants’ driveway to do pointing work and partial waterproofing on plaintiffs’ wall. Defendants contended that, by 2009, the work on plaintiffs’ wall was deteriorating and rendered the property vulnerable to damage from rain and snow.

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