Category Archives: Condominiums

Would UWS Hi-Rise Developer be Forced to Demolish Top Floors?: First Department Tackles Complicated/Ambiguous Zoning Rules

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Questions presented: Was it proper for Supreme Court to annul the determination by the Board of Standards and Appeals to approve a new 55-story condominium building at 200 Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan? For Supreme Court to direct the demolition of an unspecified number of floors from the building? And were legal proceeding moot because the building was substantially completed and the Committee of Environmentally Sound Development and the Municipal Art Society of New York failed to exercise continued due diligence to halt the project by not seeking injunctive relief at every stage of the protracted litigation?

The building lot was originally part of a single parcel of land, which in the 1960s consisted of five buildings along West End Avenue. In 1987, the DOB approved a subdivision into two separate parcels that included partial tax lots and, subsequently, two mergers with four other tax lots. In 2015, the DOB approved another zoning lot subdivision, creating two new zoning lots, both of which contained partial tax lots, and filed a declaration with the City Register. The pertinent subdivided zoning lot included the improved land at 200 West End Avenue, the unimproved land at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, and portions of four other tax lots.

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The Long Arm of the Business Judgment Rule at a Queens Condo

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

The Village Mall at Hillcrest Condominium, a pair of 15-story towers built in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, in the 1970s, bills itself as a place “Where Neighbors Become Friends.” But a recent court case shows that it’s also a place where friends can become enemies – thanks to the ironclad protections and long life of the Business Judgment Rule.

Way back in 1979, unit-owners Sunil and Sabita Banerjee claim they received permission from the condo’s managing agent to enclose the balcony on their apartment, creating a new room. Almost three decades later, a successor condo board revoked the permission, claiming access to the balcony was required to complete work on the facade mandated by the city’s Facade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP), formerly known as Local Law 11. The Banerjees refused to remove their enclosure.

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“Family Feud” Is Not Just a Primetime Realty TV Show: Conflicting Claims to Unit Ownership End Up in Court

This post was originally published on the SGR Blog.

By agreement, circumstance or inheritance, residential cooperative or condominium units often end up being owned by several family owners. A “happy family” can only be found on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. So, as two recent cases demonstrate, the family members sometimes end up in a so-called “partition” proceeding in which the Court must decide if the unit should be sold and the parties account for their claims to the proceeds of the sale.

Vernon A. Anthony and his brother, Robert S. Anthony, own condominium Unit 1 at 46 President Street in Brooklyn, as tenants in common. Needless to say, litigation ensued.

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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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“Arbitrary and Capricious” Confronts the “Business Judgment Rule” at 137 Duane Street

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

What Standard Applies in Article 78 Proceeding Challenging Decision of Board of Managers?

Proceedings challenging board decisions under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Rule are governed by the test of whether the disputed action was “arbitrary and capricious”. But challenges to the action of members of the boards of residential condominiums are governed by the “business judgment rule”. So which standard governs when a condominium unit owner questions the conduct of the board of managers?  A recent case addresses that question.

Notoya Green, as Trustee of a family trust, sought an Article 78 order: annulling and setting aside, as arbitrary and capricious, the rejection by the Board of Managers of Diamond on Duane Condominium, of her alteration application with respect to the renovation of two units; and  compelling the Board to consent to the requested alterations or deeming that no consent was required under the building’s governing documents.

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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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Pet Owners Lose Legal “Dogfights” at the Fishkill Condominium

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs. — Charles DeGaulle

Suits by the owners of two dogs in a residential condominium were recently dealt  “double header” appellate blows on their claims for breach of fiduciary duty against the Board of Managers and for defamation against the managing agent.

Kenneth Gottlieb and Terry Gottlieb own a condominium unit located within the Fishkill Woods Condominium. The Board of Managers of the Condominium is an unincorporated condominium association created for the purpose of governing the affairs of the Condominium. Peter Galotti was the president of the Board.

In two separate incidents that occurred in 2014 and 2015, two dogs owned by the Gottliebs allegedly attacked two neighbors on Condominium property. In February 2016, the Board commenced an action against the Gottliebs alleging that because of the incidents and complaints from other homeowners, the Board gave the Gottliebs written notice to remove the dogs from the Condominium community, in accordance with the Condominium’s declaration. The Board alleged that the Gottliebs failed to remove the dogs from the Condominium community and sought a judgment declaring that they were in violation of the declaration. The Board also sought an injunction compelling the Gottliebs to permanently remove the dogs from the Condominium community and an award of attorneys’ fees.

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Precariously Pitched Pipe Meets a Failed Flange at the Madison Square Condominium

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

A high-rise residential condominium community is a creature of statute, characterized by many unique features that both govern day-to-day affairs, on the one hand, while leading to disputes and litigation, on the other.  So-called “common elements” are the responsibility of the board of managers to maintain and repair.  But, as a recent case involving an improperly-pitched/leak-causing pipe between to units demonstrates, what constitutes a “common element” is often a controverted question of fact.

Lisa Goldberg sued the Madison Square Condominium and George Higgins for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and trespass as a result of recurring leaks in her apartment. The leaks came from the apartment above, which was owned by board member Higgins and Ali Reza Momtaz. Supreme Court granted a motion to dismiss various claims in the complaint. Goldberg appealed.

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What is a (Door) Man to Do? Level of Lobby Care Required After a Storm

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

When it rains it pours. And sometimes litigation en(sues).

Janice Kasni lived at 30 Lincoln Plaza located on 30 West 63rd Street. Shortly after midnight, Kasni returned from an evening out, when she slipped and fell on the floor of the lobby. It had rained for much of day before the accident and long brown rugs had been placed from the doors to the lobby to the elevator bank.

When Kasni entered the building, she stepped onto the rug in front of the door and then headed left towards a couch that was near the entrance—and stepped off the rug and slipped on the floor.

Kasni testified at her deposition that she had taken up to two steps when both feet went out from under her and she fell backwards, flat onto her back. Prior to stepping on to the floor, she saw “the marble floor, that’s all.” Kasni did not notice any water or wet spots. Only after coming in from the rain, falling and lying on the floor, did Kasni first notice water on the marble floor. The water she saw was clear and was like a small puddle. Kasni was unable able to provide dimensions of the puddle and did not know how long the puddle had been there.

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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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