Category Archives: Condominiums

If A Tree Falls in the Forest…

This originally appeared on the SGR blog.

In 2016 John and Joanne Rhodes purchased a townhouse unit in the Lagoon Manor Development on the shores of Lake George in the Town of Bolton Landing, Warren County. All common property within the Manor is owned by Lagoon Manor Home Owner’s Association, Inc. Anne Swope also owns a townhouse in the Manor and was a Board member of the HOA from October 2014 to July 31, 2018.

The Rhodes alleged that, on or about August 7, 2017, the Adirondack Park Agency granted permits which authorized view plans to be implemented on HOA property. The view plans — intended to create a “filtered view of Lake George” — provided that certain trees would be removed or trimmed while other trees would remain. The HOA hired a contractor to complete the approved tree trimming.

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It’s A Dog’s Life

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Westchester Plaza Holdings, LLC filed a summary holdover proceeding to evict Gertrude Sherwood and her son, Sheldon Sherwood, on the ground that they had failed to cure their violation of the no-pet clause in the parties’ lease. Specifically, Westchester Plaza claimed that  the Sherwoods had violated their lease by harboring a dog without landlord’s permission. and sought a final judgment of possession of their rental apartment. Gertrude did not appear in the action. Sheldon appeared and asserted that the dog was an emotional support animal entitling him to keep  the pet in the apartment under the State’s Human Rights Law.

A non-jury trial was held before the Court. Westchester Plaza called Jana Schmidt, its in-house counsel, who testified that she was informed sometime in late February or March of  2019 that the Sherwoods were harboring a dog in the apartment in contravention of the parties’ lease. Schmidt further testified that, after being informed of the dog in the apartment, she directed her staff to investigate. She also testified that she was informed by her staff that visual observation and video confirmed that a dog was being harbored in the apartment by the Sherwoods. Schmidt further testified that neither  of them asked for permission to have a dog in their apartment.

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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.