Category Archives: Landlord-Tenant

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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Airbnb Rentals Hit Legal Turbulence

Also published on the SGR blog.

Tenant of a rent stabilized Manhattan apartment listed the unit on the Airbnb website at nightly rental rates starting at $200. Entered into more than one dozen separate rentals totaling 79 nights in 10 months, with up to 5 guests per rental. And collected as much as $366.00 per night, more than four times tenant’s daily rent of $90.00. Landlord started an eviction proceeding.

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In a Yellowstone proceeding, a commercial tenant applies to Supreme Court for an Order tolling the time to cure an alleged default asserted by its landlord and staying the termination of the lease and the prosecution of a summary (holdover) proceeding.  In order to obtain relief, the tenant must show that it is “ready, willing and able” to cure the default (if one is found to exist); however, the legal predicate is that the alleged default is, in fact, curable.

The following cases summarize recent Yellowstone proceedings in our Courts.  Especially noteworthy are the decisions finding that the failure to obtain and maintain insurance coverage required by the lease may not be curable; and, if not, Yellowstone relief will not be granted. Continue reading

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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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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