Category Archives: Condominiums

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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“THE BASEMENT IMBROGLIO” A “CONDOPERETTA” IN FIVE ACTS

Featuring:

 Condominium – a residential building in Manhattan.

P360 Spaces LLC – the owner of a commercial space in the Condominium (the “Front Unit”)

Patricia and Darren Orlando – the owners of a residential space in the Condominium (the “Back Unit”)

Ronnie Peters – the President and managing member of P360 Spaces LLC

 The Mystery:

The original (2003) Declaration of Condominium stated that the percentage interest of each unit was based upon “floor space and the availability of common elements for exclusive and shared use”.  The Declaration also stated that there were no “limited common elements” appurtenant to the Back Unit.

And the Offering Plan stated that use of the Basement as a limited common element was specifically allotted to the Front Unit.

Who had the right to use the 1,190 square feet of cellar/basement space in the Condominium (the “Basement”)?

Act I: Continue reading

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE…

An upper floor unit in a luxury condominium was purchased in 2006.  A terrace was an included and important amenity.

A unit owner alleged that in 2010, water began leaking through the ceiling above a terrace door and that the leaks emanated from the exterior common elements.

The president  of the board of managers acknowledged that, in around 2011, the owner began to complain about water infiltration in the apartment.  The board retained an architect to conduct an inspection to the building’s façade and concluded that there may have been “some water leaks…at the time of inspection…from above window heads and at each side of window jambs”; but nevertheless concluded that the building had been diligently maintained.

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When Making Rules, Boards Need to Know Their Limits

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

House rules and building regulations are usually the domain of co-op and condo boards. However, boards must make sure they don’t go off the rails in promulgating rules and fines that are either disproportionate to the targeted offenses or not expressly permitted by the co-op’s proprietary lease or the condo’s bylaws. Those governing documents form a contract, which can usually be amended only by the vote of a supermajority of shareholders or unit-owners – not by board decree. So while a board’s right to adopt rules and regulations is important, it is not unlimited. Rules and regulations typically contain provisions regarding objectionable or anti-social behavior, noise, the use of elevators, the use of public areas and the like. The board cannot, by enacting a rule or regulation, alter the basic terms of the contract that the owners entered into when they purchased their apartments.

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