Category Archives: Landlord-Tenant

Did COVID-19 Shutdown of Renovation Excuse Delay? Hearing Required to Determine Responsibility

Copyright by, and republished with permission of, Apartment Law Insider.

Covid-19 has seriously impacted almost every aspect of residential and commercial life in one manner or another—but, as a recent case illustrates,  especially in those situations where a  contemplated timeline for work was obstructed or delayed by governmental edicts that that imposed an involuntary “pause”. There, a landlord needed access to an apartment to complete  a project; the issue wound up before the court; the tenants agreed to vacate the unit for a stipulated period of time to accommodate the work;  the project stalled due to the pandemic; and the parties were back in court to consider the consequences.

On August 1, 2019, Timothy and Kiko Tabor stipulated on the court record with 148 Duane LLC that they would relocate from their apartment for 12 months, with 148 Duane covering the costs of their relocation, including paying up to $25,000 a month for comparable housing less the amount of their current rent. The parties also agreed that “[i]n the event that the relocation needs to be extended beyond the twelve-month period because [148 Duane] failed to complete the construction within that time period there will be a per-diem penalty of $500 per day without prejudice to the [Tabors] seeking additional remedies before this Court.” The parties clarified that the penalty applied if the building’s essential services, defined as those that make the apartment habitable, were still out.

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Does Pandemic Mandated Closing Excuse Payment of Commercial Lease Rent? Court Rejects Defenses of Impossibility/Frustration of Performance

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

BKNY1, Inc. (tenant) operated the 132 Lounge on Montague Street in Brooklyn. 132 Capulet Holdings, LLC (landlord) sought an order vacating the Yellowstone injunction in favor of BKNY1 on the grounds that BKNY1 failed to pay rent for the months of April and May 2020.

The Yellowstone injunction was predicated on BKNY1’s representation, made on the record at a hearing, that it had paid (and would continue paying) rent. But BKNY1 failed to pay rent for the months of April and May 2020- claiming that the mandatory closure of BKNY1’s restaurant business during those months by Executive Order No. 202.3 relieved it of the contractual obligation to pay rent. BKNY1 had failed to cite — and the Court’s own review did not uncover — any provision of the lease excusing it from timely and fully paying its rent during (and notwithstanding) the state-mandated closure of its business.

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Yellowstone Proceedings and the Pandemic: Do COVID-19 Mandates Frustrate Performance?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

The legal press is rife with articles and speculation about the defenses of impossibility and/or frustration of performance to lease defaults triggered by state and local mandates prohibiting or limiting access to businesses. A decision released last week addressed that issue.

Rame, LLC leased space at 200 Park Avenue from Metropolitan Realty Mgt., Inc.

In September 2020, Metropolitan sent Rame a notice of default, alleging that it owed unpaid rent from December 1, 2017 through September 1, 2020 in the amount of $1,863,821.70, and set a deadline of on or before September 14, 2020 to cure the default. Rame sought a Yellowstone injunction tolling the time to cure.

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Drilling on Roof at 67th Street Triggers Suit: Did Renovation Breach Tenant’s Rights?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Residential leases include warranties of habitability and covenants of quiet enjoyment for the benefit of tenants of the building. But those buildings often need repairs that lead to noise and inconvenience.  And, as a recent case shows, remediation often leads to disputes between the disturbed tenants and the building’s owner.

Emily Jerome sued 20 East 67th Street Associates LLC, the owner of a seven-story residential East 67th Street property  and Samson Management, LLC. the managing agent for the building.

On January 2, 2019, Jerome moved into apartment 6R under a written one-year lease. The lease ended on January 31, 2020. Rent under the lease is $4,560.00 per month. The apartment is located on the sixth floor, two floors below the roof. The lease contains an option to renew for one year in favor of Jerome. Despite the expiration of the lease, Jerome was still in physical possession of the apartment.

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Court “Fl[u]shes Out” Leaking Loo Litigation

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

A ceiling fixture falls on a tenant in his apartment. Shortly before the incident a toilet leaking from the unit above was replaced. The tenant blames the owner. And the owner blames the plumber. Case closed. Not. Issues of fact as to causation and notice. Claims for contribution and indemnification. Cross-claims for negligence. A textbook case worthy of a bar exam  question.

Daniel Ebalo claimed that he was injured when a ceiling light fixture in his bathroom fell onto him due to the negligent installation of the toilet in the apartment above his by the Trustees of Columbia University, Columbia University, the property owners, and Titan PH LLC, a plumbing contractor.

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Neighbors at 25 CPW: “Nattering Nabobs of Negatavism”*

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Charges and countercharges by apartment neighbors are commonplace in residential buildings. Occasionally, disputes involve facts, circumstances, personalities and conduct that, as a recent case shows, defy the ordinary.

25 CPW City Views, LLC and Hedy Sloan Stempler sought a preliminary enjoining Linda Cohen from:

(1)  contacting Stempler or any occupant of apartment 18H at 25 Central Park West;

(2)  appearing at the front door of 18H;

(3)  ringing the doorbell of 18H;

(4)  placing any material under the door of 18H;(5)  shouting, screaming, yelling, or engaging in physical or verbal threats directed at Stempler or any occupant of 18H;

(6)  engaging in any assault, abuse, harassment, or intimidation of Stempler or any occupant of 18H;

(7)  going onto the 18th floor of the apartment building;

(8)  interfering with comforts or conveniences of 25 CPW or Stempler; and

(9)  creating or permitting any disturbing noises or activities, including the creation of noxious odors, that interfere with 25 CPW or Stempler’s use and enjoyment of 18H.

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Will the Court Intervene? “[When] Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Some “neighborly” legal disputes are like an Agatha Christie “whodunit”. A recent forensic “thriller” involved two East 83rd Street apartment tenants who had lived in the building for 30 years, a nosy tenant next door and a ubiquitous building super—in a jurisprudential search for the “smoking [one]”.

The landlord imposed a smoke-free environmental policy in March, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, which forced many of the building’s tenants to be home 24/7. Signage in the lobby requested that all smoking be done outside and at least 15 feet away from the building.

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Liability is a Matter of Inches

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

Awilka Alonzo  sued Audubon Avenue Housing after she purportedly trip and fell over a metal door saddle in her apartment building’s lobby at the 215 Audubon Avenue Housing Development. She claimed that, on July 10, 2015, she was leaving for work when her left foot bumped into the metal door saddle and she fell. Alonzo contended that the door saddle constituted a defective condition because it was not flush with the tile floor.

Audubon moved for summary judgment on the ground that the metal door saddle did not constitute a defect. Audubon’s expert opined that “the saddle/threshold at the subject premises [was] free of defect in design, installation or maintenance, and does not pose a tripping hazard.” He found that:

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What a Tangled [And Costly] Web We Weave …..

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

The commercial lease agreement between The St. Luke’s Hospital Center, as landlord, and WestSide Radiology Associates, as tenant, prohibited WestSide from assigning the lease without St. Luke’s prior written consent.

The lease rider defined an assignment as a transfer of a “Controlling Interest,” meaning “more than a fifty percent (50%) interest in the [stock of the corporate tenant]” or “the ability to control the decisions or affairs of the [corporate tenant].” And the lease required that any assignee be an active member of St. Luke’s medical staff with admitting privileges.

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The Creston Avenue Bathtub Brouhaha

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

Who has the time and energy to fight about a leaking bathtub? Some people apparently do. In a recent case, a residential apartment tenant (acting without an attorney) prosecuted claims against his landlord for tub-related building code violations relating to the stability of the bathtub and the containing walls in the upstairs apartment.

To resolve the dispute, a Civil Court Judge, his Court Attorney and three Court Officers went to the apartment, a third floor walk-up on Creston Avenue, to conduct an inspection.

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