Category Archives: Real Estate

The Creston Avenue Bathtub Brouhaha

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

Who has the time and energy to fight about a leaking bathtub? Some people apparently do. In a recent case, a residential apartment tenant (acting without an attorney) prosecuted claims against his landlord for tub-related building code violations relating to the stability of the bathtub and the containing walls in the upstairs apartment.

To resolve the dispute, a Civil Court Judge, his Court Attorney and three Court Officers went to the apartment, a third floor walk-up on Creston Avenue, to conduct an inspection.

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Terrace Tiff at Worldwide Plaza

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Paul M. Lincoln sued Residences at Worldwide Plaza  in Small Claims Court for “loss of use of property.” He sought damages for the loss of use of his condominium unit’s outdoor terrace as a result of renovation of the building’s exterior.

The material facts were not disputed at trial. Lincoln owns Unit 7G at the Residences, a multi-unit condominium building located at 350 West 50th Street, New York, New York. The apartment is 624 square feet, nearly identical in most respects to the other “G line” units above and below the apartment– with the exception of a large terrace adding an additional 1,028 square feet. Given the relative size of the terrace and apartment, Lincoln regularly utilized the terrace for personal use and to host gatherings, particularly during warmer months. For the additional square footage compared to other apartments, Lincoln paid $335 more per month than other “G line” unit owners lacking terraces.

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Neighbor vs. Neighbor at the Newswalk Condominium

Copyright by, and published with permission of, Habitat Magazine

Unit-owners at the Newswalk condominium in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn – a repurposed former Daily News printing plant – are no strangers to strife. When the first unit-owners moved in after the 2002 conversion, they were shocked by construction so slipshod that many of the “luxury” apartments were barely habitable. The condo board sued the developer, Shaya Boymelgreen, for $10 million. A decade later, Boymelgreen agreed to pay an $875,000 settlement and hand over ownership of the building’s retail unit and laundry space. The condominium survived and thrived. 

But strife has returned to the Newswalk. Today, instead of unit-owners vs. developer, it’s neighbor vs. neighbor. Marina Voron and George Argiris, the owners of unit 515, wanted to upgrade their bathroom. They sought an order directing the condo board, its management company, Choice New York, and their downstairs neighbors, Liliana Ariztizabal and Tony Pimienta, to give their plumber and contractor access to common plumbing and other  elements through unit 415. The former printing plant is a concrete structure, and the renovators needed access to plumbing lines in the concrete slab that forms the floor of unit 515 and the ceiling of unit 415.

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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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