Category Archives: Co-Ops

Companion Sues Former Beau for Damages Arising Out of Long-Term Relationship

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Court Decides Whether/ Which of a Dozen Claims Survives Motion to Dismiss

Andrea Coulter entered into an intimate relationship with Carl Sorenson, eighteen years her senior, in 2008 when she was 25 years old. Sorenson was a businessman who owned Nanz Custom Hardware, LLC., a substantial enterprise which manufactured and sold high-end custom-made metal hardware products used in the construction of residential and commercial properties. During the course of their decade-long relationship, Coulter and Sorenson lived together at more than one of Sorenson’s homes. At some point during the course of the relationship, Coulter started working, allegedly without compensation, for Sorenson both as his personal assistant and at Nanz.

In or about 2013, Coulter allegedly proposed that Sorensen utilize a Tribeca co-op apartment Sorenson owned through the Carl Sorenson IV Revocable Trust as a short-term rental space using the Airbnb platform, and claimed to have been responsible for fully managing the Airbnb initiative, including overseeing the apartment’s renovation and decoration, servicing the apartment, as well as managing the business’s account and the greeting of guests.

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Co-op Purchased as Private Residence Used For Short Term Rentals:

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Court Decides If Board Had Grounds to Rescind Sale for Fraud?

Trump Village, Section 4 Inc., a private cooperative residential apartment complex, sued Gene Vilensky to rescind the sale of the shares appurtenant to the cooperative apartment he purchased in 2014. The first cause of action in the complaint sought damages for fraud, alleging that Vilensky intentionally misrepresented in his purchase application for the apartment that he would be the sole occupant and use it as his private residence. Trump Village alleged that instead he sublet the apartment on a short-term basis as part of a “real estate business.”  And asserted that Vilensky’s misrepresentations in the purchase application regarding his intent to use the apartment as a private residence induced the Village to approve his purchase—in connection with which the parties entered into an “occupancy agreement” that prohibited its use “for any purpose other than a private dwelling apartment for the [Vilensky] and his family.” Vilensky moved to dismiss the first cause of action on the grounds that it sounded in breach of contract and was insufficiently pleaded.  Supreme Court denied the motion. Vilensky appealed.

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All Not Bucolic at Esplanade Gardens in Manhattan:

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Board Members Challenge Termination in Court

Did the Board of Directors of a residential coop have the right to terminate two directors? Were the dismissals subject to Court review under the business judgment rule?

Esplanade Gardens, Inc. is a six- building 1,872-apartment Mitchell-Lama coop on West 145th St. in Harlem (est.1967).

Robyn Tolliver and William Ross alleged that they were wrongfully removed from their positions as members on the Board of Esplanade.

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Homeowners Install Fence and Defy Homeowner’s Association Demand to Remove:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Did the Board Have Authority to Impose Sanctions?

We often see decisions invoking and applying the “business judgment rule” to the Board of Directors of a residential cooperative or the Board of Managers of a residential condominium. But, as a recent case illustrates, that rule also applies to the BOD of a homeowner’s association.

Alan Ives and his wife are homeowners and members of Fieldpoint Community Association, Inc.  Fieldpoint is a master homeowners’ association that manages and controls the members’ use of common areas, as well as the exteriors of the members’ units and lots. In 2014, the Ives installed a six-foot-high aluminum fence in the backyard of their home. They then applied to the Fieldpoint Architectural Review Committee, seeking approval for the fence. The ARC denied the application, stating that “iron fences” are “considered inconsistent with the overall character and appearance of the Fieldpoint development.” The Ives appealed to Fieldpoint’s BOD, confirming the decision and directing them to remove the fence. The Ives did not remove the fence, and Fieldpoint imposed a one-time fine for $1,000, followed by fines of $20 for each day the fence remained in place.

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Apt. Owner Sues Co-Op Board and Managing Agent

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was There Liability for Almost $1m Façade Repair?

The owner of an apartment in a residential co-op has every right to sue the board and managing agent for a perceived breach of the proprietary lease or for breach of fiduciary duty. But sustaining a claim may be easier said than done. And, as a recent case illustrates, a shareholder’s claim arising out of an almost one million dollar façade repair was tested at the outset by several threshold legal defenses. 

Bernard Weinstein was a resident in a cooperative apartment building owned by 12282 Owners’ Corp. Weinstein asserted claims against the Co-Op’s Board of Directors and against the Co-Op’s managing agent, AKAM Associates, Inc., for failure to properly maintain the exterior of the building. The Co-op and AKAM moved to dismiss the complaint.

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Coop Terminated Proprietary Lease for Objectionable Conduct

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

May Court “Second Guess” Board’s Decision? or Did Business Judgment Rule Apply ?

Proprietary leases for residential coop units often permit the Board to terminate a lease for “objectionable conduct”—an arguably subjective cause. In a recent case, the Judge in the Landlord & Tenant Part concluded that the “business judgment rule” did not apply to the facts before the Court. That determination was the subject of an appeal.

111-15 75th Ave. Owners Corp, a residential cooperative corporation, commenced a holdover proceeding against Min Fan and Thomas Pellegrino after the Board terminated their proprietary lease on the ground the tenants had engaged in objectionable conduct. Civil Court denied Owners’ motion for summary judgment, rejecting the argument that the business judgment rule applied to the coop board’s determination to terminate the lease, and finding that the determination was not entitled to deference because Owners had not acted in good faith. The Board appealed.

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Subdivision Declaration Prohibited Daily/ Weekly/ Monthly Sublets: Court Decides if One Year Rental was Covered or Permitted

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

Reported decisions abound relating to the violation/enforcement of the prohibition of short-term rentals of coop and condo units. But are those restrictions enforceable where contained in the declaration of a residential subdivision in which each singular property was separately and privately owned?

LG Lakeside Limited Liability Company, owned by Glenn and Laura Kupsch, completed the construction of a home at 6 Mayfair Drive in Bolton Landing, Warren County in early 2018/late 2019. The home is located in the Mayfair Resort subdivision on the shores of Lake George, with all homes in the subdivision subject to a Declaration of Covenants, Restrictions, Easements, and Assessments dated May 15, 2012, and amended on November 13, 2013.

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Nattering Nabobs of Neighborly Nuisance: Coop Unit Owners Trade Noise Complaints

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Residential coop living comes with adjacent neighbors and the concomitant sounds of nearby use and occupancy. But how much “noise” is too much “noise” so as to amount to an actionable “nuisance”. As a recent case illustrates, every “noise” may not rise to the level of legally cognizable “nuisance”.

Richard L. Getty, a musician and the lessee of a cooperative apartment, brought a Small Claims action against Mike Tolentino and Laura Tolentino, the owners of a vertically adjoining cooperative apartment based upon loud music being played. Getty claimed the Tolentinos played loud music that constituted a nuisance and interfered with his ability to profit from an Airbnb deal.

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Unit Owner Bombarded Residential Coop with Frivolous Suits: Was Board’s Termination of Lease Protected by Business Judgment Rule?

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

How much litigation is too much litigation? In a recent case, the Board of a residential coop asked the Court to find that a shareholder/tenant and her husband had overstepped permissible bounds in repeatedly bringing suits claimed to be frivolous and vexatious.

800 Grand Concourse Owners, Inc. sued to evict Charlene Thomson, the shareholder and proprietary lessee of Apartment 4L-N, and James Pettus, her husband who also lived in the apartment. The Board terminated the lease for “objectionable conduct”— including the filing of at least a dozen frivolous civil cases against the coop. The suits forced the coop to incur unnecessary and excessive attorneys’ fees, court costs, and the loss of insurance coverage. At least one court declared Thomson and Pettus to be “vexatious litigants” and prohibited the filing of further suits without judicial permission.

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Court Asked to Enforce Demand to Inspect Park Ave Coop’s Books and Records:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was the Request Reasonable? And Serving a Legitimate Corporate Purpose?

Unit owners at residential coops have both statutory and common law right rights to inspect corporate books and records. But, as a recent case illustrates, that right is not without limits. And that right may be abrogated where the demand is improperly motivated, on the one hand, and/or otherwise unreasonable, on the other.

James E. Cayne sought to compel 510 Park Avenue Corporation, a residential cooperative, to comply with his demand to inspect the coop’s books and records pursuant to New York Business Corporation Law § 624 and the common law of the State of New York.

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