Category Archives: Landlord-Tenant

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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Roof Rights Come With Rules and Responsibilities

Copyright by, and republished with permission of, Habitat Magazine

For residents of New York City co-ops and condominiums, roof access is a cherished amenity. When that access is the exclusive right of one unit, the amenity becomes a treasure. But it’s worth remembering that private roof access is not the same thing as roof ownership. The people enjoying exclusive access to the roof are bound by various agreements – the certificate of incorporation in a co-op, the declaration in a condominium, and the by-lawsrules, and regulations in both types of buildings.

A recent court case concerning a roof terrace in a condominium illustrates two points: exclusivity may be trumped by the necessity for inspection and repair; and obstructing such work can backfire against a unit-owner.

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A “good guy guaranty” is generally understood to be a limited personal guaranty for a lease obligation – an obligation that applies only to the time the entity tenant remains in occupancy prior to the return of the leased premises to the owner/landlord, at which point the personal obligation/liability ends.

“Good guy” and other guaranties are often the subject of contentious litigation.  Six recent in Supreme Court, New York County, examples follow:

ET 46 Main St. LLC v. Lord & Guy, LLC, 2016 NY Slip Op 31473(U) (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co., Kern, J.) [decided on July 27, 2016] Continue reading

Yellowstone Proceedings Update

I periodically review and update appellate and trial court cases relating to so-called “Yellowstone” proceedings – where the tenant under a commercial lease brings an action in Supreme Court to toll the time to remedy a default asserted by a landlord in a notice to cure and to enjoin the filing of a summary proceeding for eviction in Civil Court (see posts on July 11, 2011, June 21, 2012 and September 1, 2014).  In recent months, our Courts have issued numerous decisions relating to “Yellowstone” proceedings. Continue reading

Rent Control Laws “Trump” Airbnb “Profiteering”

It was bound to happen:  Internet commerce colliding with arguably conflicting statutory restrictions:  Two recent actions in Supreme Court and Civil Court, New York County, pitted Airbnb against the Rent Control Law – and the law won.

Brookford, LLC v. Penraat, 2014 NY Slip Op 24399 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co.) [decided on December 19, 2014] (Edmead, J.)

The Court summarized the facts:

Defendant Noelle Penraat (“defendant”), resides in four-bedroom, rent-controlled duplex apartment on Central Park West (the “Apartment”). Over the past two years, defendant has had 135 short-term rentals, some as short as for three nights, but none exceeding 21 days, facilitated by the use of the website Airbnb (

Defendant’s landlord, Brookfield, LLC (“plaintiff” or “Building Owner”), now moves by order to show cause for a preliminary injunction enjoining defendant from, inter alia, advertising and renting the Apartment to tourists and other visitors for stays of less than 30 days, in violation of [various sections of the] Rent Control Law (“RCL”)… Multiple Dwelling Law (“MDL”) New York Housing Maintenance Code (“HMC” or “Housing Maintenance Code”); New York City Building Code (“Building Code”)…and Building certificate of occupancy (“COO”).

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Yellowstone Proceedings

I periodically review and update the appellate case law relating to so-called Yellowstone proceedings – where the tenant under a commercial lease brings an action in Supreme Court to toll the time to remedy a default asserted by a landlord in a notice to cure and to enjoin the filing of a summary proceeding for eviction in Civil Court. In recent months, the First Department has issued five decisions relating to Yellowstone proceedings. Continue reading