Category Archives: Condominiums

Don’t Block My View of Central Park!

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

It’s not only the sleek new condominium towers rising along Billionaires’ Row that offer priceless views of Central Park. At the venerable Essex House Condominiumon Central Park South, an Art Deco gem that first opened as a hotel in 1931, two unit-owners recently fought a court battle royale when one owner blocked a sliver of the other’s coveted view of Central Park.

The case revolved around an intriguing question: just how much is a view of Central Park worth?

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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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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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Nuisance on Central Park West

Originally published on the SGR Blog.

A Central Park West condominium sued the owner of a first floor unit and her son for breach of contract and nuisance. The Board wanted to enjoin them from smoking marijuana and making excessive noise in their unit. At the outset, the Supreme Court issued a preliminary injunction that prohibited defendants from smoking marijuana and permitting marijuana smoke and excessively loud noises from infiltrating into the common areas and other units of the condominium. And several months later the Court addressed the application for a permanent injunction.

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Beware of the “Espinal” Exceptions

Documents included with offering plans (i.e. declarations, by-laws, rules and regulations, etc.) and other evidence are used to determine whether the board of a residential cooperative or condominium or the owner of an apartment is responsible to fix failures in a building system.  Keep in mind, however, that a board or managing agent may become responsible for damages (which are otherwise the obligation of the apartment owner) if they voluntarily or gratuitously inject themselves into addressing or remediating a unit owner’s problem.

Read more on the SGR blogs.

Tribeca Condo Board Blocks Seller of Cellar Unit

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

The owner of the cellar unit in a small Tribeca condominium decided to sell the unit, which, under the condominium’s certificate of occupancy (C of O), could be used only for storage or as a boiler room. A potential buyer planned to turn the space into a showroom for her business. The seller promised her that, by the time of closing, he would have all approvals required to change the C of O to allow for the unit’s use as a showroom – or the deal was off.

(A C of O must be changed when a space is altered in a way that will change the use, egress, or type of occupancy.)

The sale contract stated: “In the event this application [for a new C of O] is unsuccessful for any reason whatsoever, Seller shall return Purchaser’s deposit made hereunder, at which time this contract shall be deemed null and void, with neither party having any rights or obligations vis-à-vis the other.”

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Court Addresses Dispute Over Display of American Flag

We have published a new article on the SGR blog.

Condominium declarations, by-laws and rules and regulations govern many details of residential apartment living and unit owners are obligated to comply with them even if they feel that they impinge upon their rights.  This point is illustrated by a recent lawsuit involving the display of an American flag.

Read more on the SGR blog.

Costs of Prosecuting Claims Against Sponsor Can Skyrocket

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

The board at a 10-unit Tribeca building has learned how difficult it can be for a condominium to fund litigation. The board decided to sue the condominium’s sponsor, claiming that the sponsor failed to reveal physical defects in the building, failed to fund the reserve fund as required, and allowed one of its principals, the owner of the building’s commercial space, to cause structural damage to the building. In its suit, the board claimed unit-owners faced “staggering” costs to repair existing damage and prevent further damage.

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A Housing Cooperative Is a Mini-Democracy

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

This year, as in years past, the cycle of annual meetings at New York co-ops produced its share of hotly contested elections to boards of directors. And, as in years past, some of those disputed elections led to litigation. A new court ruling has underscored a fact of life that sometimes gets lost in the heat of the battles to gain control of co-op boards: cooperative housing corporations are, at bottom, democracies. The majority usually rules.

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