Category Archives: Real Estate

Can Buyer of Building with Regulated Unit Back Out of Deal After HSTPA?

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

Legal blogs are “agog” with speculation as to the viability, during the pandemic, of force majeure and impossibility/frustration-of-performance defenses to obligations under leases, mortgages, and other real property contracts. A recent case examines the viability of those defenses in another context—a change in law.

On April 19, 2019, Malachite Servs., LLC agreed to purchase a building in Midtown Manhattan from 148-150 E. 28th St LLC for $6.668 million, with a down payment of $668,000 but no mortgage contingency clause.

In June 2019, New York passed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA). According to Malachite, that caused the appraisal value of the premises to fall to $5.7 million.

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Finger[pointing] Backfires on Grand St.

This originally appeared on the SGR Blog.

Parking space disputes between neighbors, when coupled, conflated  and complicated with claims of adverse possession, can ignite a legal conflagration. And, as a recent case illustrates, jurisprudential fireworks  intensify exponentially where the parties asserting and defending their right to park is a group of attorneys.

Kenneth J. Finger and family members owed a parcel  on Grand Street in White Plains adjacent to a lot owned by Grand St. Realty, LLC.  In May 2016, the Fingers filed suit for a judgment declaring they had acquired, by adverse possession, title to a 24-inch strip of land on Grand’s property. The strip runs between the contiguous parcels for the length of a driveway separating the properties, and a 4-foot strip at the rear of Grand’s land that runs between the two parcels.

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Mr. Rogers Neighborhood? NOT!!! Snowblower Fusillade and Surveillance System: Un-neighborly

This originally appeared on the SGR Blog.

“[Don’t] you be my neighbor”—if you trespass on my land; snowblow my house; and spy on me.

Theresa Cangemi and Gretchen Yeager/Steven Nichols own adjoining parcels of land on Oneida Lake. Yeager/Nichols have an easement/right-of-way over the southernmost portion of Cangemi’s property for the purposes of ingress and egress only. After a property dispute arose, Cangemi filed suit against Yeager/Nichols asserting a claim under Civil Rights Law § 52-a (private right of action for installation of surveillance equipment without consent) and claims of trespass and private nuisance and seeking injunctive relief. Cangemi moved for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order enjoining Yeager/Nichols from trespassing on or damaging her property and from harassing her. Supreme Court denied the motion. Cangemi appealed.

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Transfer Triggers $900,000+ In State and Local Transfer Taxes: But No Flip Tax Due?

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Proprietary leases for units at residential cooperatives often prohibit an assignment of the lease without the prior written consent of the board of managers. But what are the ground rules if the unit is owned by a limited liability company; the interests in the LLC are assigned: and the lease does not expressly prohibit or require board approval for such an assignment?

A recent case addressed the question: Does a change in the beneficial ownership of an LLC/lessee violate a provision of a proprietary lease which required board approval for any assignment of the lease or the shares appurtenant thereto, “including any interest therein,” but did not expressly prohibit changes in the beneficial ownership of the lessee?

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What’s a Neighbor to Do? Two Pick-Up Trucks and a Cargo Van in the Driveway Next Door

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Suburbanites know that the biggest obstacle to peace and quiet is an intractably difficult neighbor.

In a recent case, the neighbors escalated the misery by using their driveway as a parking lot. Would the Court come to their jurisprudential rescue?

Christine Duffy and Owen Duffy sued Kellie Baldwin and James Baldwin for public and private nuisance, damages and a permanent injunction. The Baldwins moved to dismiss the Duffys’ complaint.

The Duffys and the Baldwins own adjacent homes at 15 and 11 Fletcher Road in Guilderland, New York. Both properties consist of single-family homes on approximately .25 acres of land, located in a residential neighborhood. The Duffys alleged that in 2015, the Baldwins paved the frontmost 20 feet of their property to be used as a driveway to accommodate 3 vehicles beyond those that could already be stored in the existing driveway on their property. And also alleged that the Duffys regularly parked 2 full-sized pickup trucks and a cargo van in the expanded driveway.

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Yellowstone Meets Executive Order 202.28 at Bedford Ave.

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

The legal issues and challenges arising from Governor Cuomo’s Executive  Order 202.28, staying proceedings based on non-payment of rent, are now in the courts. A decision last week in Supreme Court, New York County, is among the first of what will undoubtedly be many.

Prestige Deli & Grill Co. sought a Yellowstone injunction. PLG Bedford Holdings opposed the motion.

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Court “Fl[u]shes Out” Leaking Loo Litigation

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

A ceiling fixture falls on a tenant in his apartment. Shortly before the incident a toilet leaking from the unit above was replaced. The tenant blames the owner. And the owner blames the plumber. Case closed. Not. Issues of fact as to causation and notice. Claims for contribution and indemnification. Cross-claims for negligence. A textbook case worthy of a bar exam  question.

Daniel Ebalo claimed that he was injured when a ceiling light fixture in his bathroom fell onto him due to the negligent installation of the toilet in the apartment above his by the Trustees of Columbia University, Columbia University, the property owners, and Titan PH LLC, a plumbing contractor.

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Pet Owners Lose Legal “Dogfights” at the Fishkill Condominium

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs. — Charles DeGaulle

Suits by the owners of two dogs in a residential condominium were recently dealt  “double header” appellate blows on their claims for breach of fiduciary duty against the Board of Managers and for defamation against the managing agent.

Kenneth Gottlieb and Terry Gottlieb own a condominium unit located within the Fishkill Woods Condominium. The Board of Managers of the Condominium is an unincorporated condominium association created for the purpose of governing the affairs of the Condominium. Peter Galotti was the president of the Board.

In two separate incidents that occurred in 2014 and 2015, two dogs owned by the Gottliebs allegedly attacked two neighbors on Condominium property. In February 2016, the Board commenced an action against the Gottliebs alleging that because of the incidents and complaints from other homeowners, the Board gave the Gottliebs written notice to remove the dogs from the Condominium community, in accordance with the Condominium’s declaration. The Board alleged that the Gottliebs failed to remove the dogs from the Condominium community and sought a judgment declaring that they were in violation of the declaration. The Board also sought an injunction compelling the Gottliebs to permanently remove the dogs from the Condominium community and an award of attorneys’ fees.

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Precariously Pitched Pipe Meets a Failed Flange at the Madison Square Condominium

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

A high-rise residential condominium community is a creature of statute, characterized by many unique features that both govern day-to-day affairs, on the one hand, while leading to disputes and litigation, on the other.  So-called “common elements” are the responsibility of the board of managers to maintain and repair.  But, as a recent case involving an improperly-pitched/leak-causing pipe between to units demonstrates, what constitutes a “common element” is often a controverted question of fact.

Lisa Goldberg sued the Madison Square Condominium and George Higgins for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and trespass as a result of recurring leaks in her apartment. The leaks came from the apartment above, which was owned by board member Higgins and Ali Reza Momtaz. Supreme Court granted a motion to dismiss various claims in the complaint. Goldberg appealed.

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Business Judgment Rule Not a License to Ignore POA Declaration

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Almost every aspect of residential community life and governance may be subject to differences of opinion, second guessing and litigation— the outcome of which may depend on the application of the “business judgment rule”. But, as a recent case demonstrates, that rule is irrelevant where the contested action violates the community’s governing document.

Peter Beckerman is a homeowner and member of the Lattingtown Harbor Property Owners Association, Inc. The POA is governed by the Board of Directors. On behalf of the POA, the Board entered into a license agreement with another member of the POA, Peter Tully. The license granted Tully the exclusive right to affix his private docks to the POA’s community dock in exchange for a yearly license fee and for services provided to the POA by his company.

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