Category Archives: Co-Ops

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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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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Some Cases Are Like a Bad Cold—They Keep On Coming Back

This article was originally posted on the SGR blog.

Boyd Richards Parker & Colonnelli, P.L. and Bryan J. Mazzola sought a temporary restraining order, dismissal of the matter, sanctions, and requested the Court to enforce its prior order requiring James Pettus to seek judicial leave prior to filing any further papers with the court.

Pettus, without counsel, initiated the action in late 2018, ostensibly seeking further relief upon prior actions which he initiated against the co-op board of his building. The pending action named the law firm which represents his co-op, their attorney Bryan Mazzola and the Honorable Laura Douglas, who ruled against Pettus in a prior related matter. Pettus’ complaint, according to the Court, “ reads as a stream of consciousness wherein he accuses most of the staff of the Bronx Supreme Court of corruption, racial animus, bribery, fraud, and a litany of other violations most familiar to anyone who has studied intentional torts.”

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