Category Archives: Condominiums

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

“Stormy Weather”: [Was] the Sun Up in the Sky?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Joanna Lechowicz sued the Condominium for injuries she allegedly sustained, on March 10, 2014 at approximately 6:25 a.m., when she slipped and fell on snow or ice on the sidewalk abutting 130 Pondfield Road, Bronxville, New York, at or near the property line of 12 Meadow Avenue, Bronxville. Wojcjech Lechowicz sought damages for the alleged loss of consortium arising from Joanna’s accident and injuries.

The Board moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that the “storm in progress” rule applied.

A defendant property owner moving for summary judgment in an action predicated upon the presence of snow and/or ice has the initial burden of establishing prima facie that it neither created the snowy or icy condition that allegedly caused the plaintiff to fall nor had actual or constructive notice of such condition. That burden may be satisfied by offering evidence that there was a storm in progress at the time of the accident. If the defendant meets this initial burden, then the burden shifts to the plaintiff to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the injured plaintiff’s fall was caused by something other than precipitation from the storm in progress.

Continue reading

The Concrete (Legal) Jungle

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Serge Somrov purchased apartment 7A at the Bay Parkway Terrace  Condominium. After moving in Somrov replaced the floor of the terrace with Board approval.

Ten years later, Somrov was told that a leak on his terrace was causing water damage to the apartment below. Pursuant to the By-Laws Somrov was required to remove the tiles he installed as well as the cement underneath. And Bay Parkway was obligated to install waterproofing  after which Somrov could re-install the tiles. Somrov removed the tiles but did not remove the cement. Bay Parkway refused to install the waterproofing until the cement was removed.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading