Category Archives: Co-Ops

“Something There Is That Doesn’t Love A Wall”: Especially Between Two Outdoor Apartment Terraces

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Contiguous neighbors often get into disputes concerning protection or invasion of their property lines and rights. But, as a recent case illustrates, the legal battle can reach great heights when the claims are between the disputatious owners of neighboring outdoor terraces.

Nocola W. Cicchetti sued TRNC Associates Ltd. and 333 East 46th St. Apartment Corp. for trespass, breach of contract, and injunctive and declaratory relief arising from a dispute over the placement of a partition wall between two outdoor apartment terraces. TRNC and the coop moved to dismiss.

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Co-op Board Learns That Emails Can Bite Back

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

The brawl begins. Back in 2017, the actors Justin Theroux and his then-wife Jennifer Aniston got approval from their Greenwich Village co-op board to combine their apartment with the newly acquired apartment next door, then embark on a $1 million renovation of the expanded space. But the downstairs neighbors, Norman and Barbara Rescinow, complained about excessive noise from the renovation work. A war of words erupted – including charges of harassment, voyeurism, and animal and spousal cruelty, plus a dispute over access to the shared roof deck. Eventually the brawl wound up in court, where a judge placed a restraining order on Norman Rescinow, forbidding him from trespassing on Theroux’s property or from using “abusive language” when addressing the co-op board or potential witnesses in the mushrooming litigation.

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Bad Faith in Rejecting Sale of Unit Leads to Damages: Board Breached Fiduciary Duty to Apartment Owner

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

The Business Judgment Rule was put to the test in a recent case where Sharie Graham, the owner of a co-op apartment on the Upper East Side, charged the Board with bad faith in refusing to approve the sale of her unit to the Soffens, two physicians from New Jersey, for use as a pied a terre.

Graham sued her 420 East 72nd Street residential cooperative apartment building’s Board of Directors for refusing to approve proposed buyers of her unit. The main issue for trial was whether the Board acted in bad faith– because the proprietary lease for the coop provided that the Board could refuse to approve a sale for “any reason and no reason”. Both sides conceded, however, that the clause could not insulate the Board from decisions involving bad faith. After a trial, the Court found that Graham proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Board acted in bad faith.

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Court “Decks” Trespassing Co-op Unit Owner With “Knock Out” Punch of Compensatory/Punitive Damages

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

A shareholder in a cooperative apartment building on the Upper West Side demolished a deck constructed by an upstairs neighbor because the deck allegedly encroached on his property.

The deck had been in place undisturbed for 25 years; the Co-op board directed it not be destroyed; and the demolition of the deck created a dangerous condition by leaving his neighbor with an unprotected back door opening to a steep drop to the ground below.

The unsurprising answer was that he was not permitted to exercise the self-help remedy of demolishing the deck. His proper course was to seek relief from the courts or other governmental authorities, not to administer what the Court called “frontier justice”.

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A Bridge[water] Over Troubled Waters

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Local Law 11 Project Divides Condo

Coop and condo boards and unit owners often split into competing factions where one group questions and challenges the decisions of the other. And, as a recent case shows, the charges, accusations and acrimony can lead to very combative litigation.

Petitioners Mike Tong, Cathy Tong, Ann Chen, Te Chen, Nicole Crooks, Kamila Khavasova, Naturi Naughton and Gloria Lee  sought a declaratory judgment and a temporary/permanent restraining order to stop the  Board of Managers of the Bridgeview Tower Condominium from continuing with repairs and renovations relating to New York City Local Law 11.

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E-Mail to Unit Owners: Privileged or Defamatory? Pause Before Hitting Send

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Four things predictably happen in the Fall. Clocks are changed. Leaves lose color. Board controversies surface. And lawsuits result.

Residential coop and condo disputes often now involve nasty on-line accusations and exchanges. Those snarky missives may—or may not—be the basis of a claim for defamation. As a recent case illustrates, the Court may have to decide whether or not the attacks are privileged and protected communications or defamatory and actionable

On April 11, 2018, the Board of Managers of Brightwater Towers Condominium sued Nina Shlivko to recover damages for defamation.

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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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“Water Closet” Brawl Ends in a Legal Draw

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Every square inch of space allotted to an apartment in an Upper East Side high-rise residential cooperative has utility and value. And, as appeared in a recent case, when the area in dispute is nine square feet outside a hallway door, the legal claims and issues escalate disproportionately.

Donald Fellner is the owner of shares and holder of a proprietary lease in co-op apartment 12C at 40 East 88th Street.  The residential cooperative is 44 East 88 Owners, Inc. And Orsid Realty Corp is the  managing agent.

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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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