Category Archives: Co-Ops

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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Don’t Mess With a Senior Citizen/Tenant (Whose Son is an Attorney)

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Phyllis Kossoff, a 92-year-old woman, lived in an apartment at 910 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan since 1966. After the building was converted into a coop, Kossoff and her husband became proprietary lessees of their unit. A recent dispute arose about whether Kossoff or the coop was responsible for replacing and paying for the replacement of the balcony windows and sills of the unit.

On March 22, 2018 Kossoff was approached by the coop and asked whether she was interested in selling her apartment to another shareholder who lived on her floor. Kossoff said she was not interested in selling her home of over 50 years.

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Rooftop (Legal) Warfare on Washington Avenue

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

A recent lawsuit resulted from an ongoing quarrel, between neighbors in a Washington Avenue co-op apartment building, over who owned a 2-foot by 20-foot strip of a shared rooftop terrace.

Justin Theroux (Apt. 2B) filed a complaint against Norman J. Resnicow and Barbara Resnicow, his downstairs neighbors (Apt.1A), for allegedly depriving Theroux of his right to enjoy his property.

Theroux contended that the Resnicows had engaged in a malicious and years-long harassment campaign that included frivolously challenging the boundary line between Theroux’s and the Resnicows’ shared roof deck.

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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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The Great “Washing Machine” Dispute

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

Nancy McCaskill  bought the shares for a cooperative apartment in Mount Vernon, New York in April 1998. At the time she entered into possession a washing machine was installed.

In 2014, the Board of Directors enacted the following House Rule 21:

The Board of Directors having determined that the plumbing systems of the Buildings are not sufficiently robust to allow use of washing machines without damage to the plumbing and to other apartments, washing machines, dryers or combination washer/dryer machines are not permitted to be used or kept in any apartment.

The cooperative did not contact McCaskill regarding her washing machine after enactment of House Rule 21.

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Murder in Apartment 3P

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

It was a grim and bloody night at the Sea Cliff Towers co-op on Staten Island. The New York Times carried this terse account:

“A fight between two friends who were dating the same woman ended in the death of one of them, the police said yesterday. On Wednesday night, Michael Cafferata, 33, was visiting Michael Kett, 41, in Fort Wadsworth. The two argued, and Mr. Kett stabbed Mr. Cafferata with a steak knife, the police said. Mr. Kett fled, but was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder.”

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