Category Archives: Landlord-Tenant

Sibling Challenges 1990 Lease by Parents to Son and Daughter-In-Law

This was originally posted on the SGR Bloog.

Was Photocopy of Lease Dispositive Evidence of Lost Original?

Many real property disputes arise out of written contracts, such as a lease. The “original” lease is the “best evidence” of the agreement. With the passage of time, the original document often cannot be found. As a recent case illustrates, the Court must then determine if what is propounded as a photocopy is an evidentiary substitute for the original.

Peter and Elizabeth Casanas, husband and wife, sued Carlei Group, LLC, alleging that in 1990, they executed a lease with the owner of the building located at 73 West 82nd Street, in New York County, for apartment 3C/3W, in which they resided. And sought a declaration of their rights as lessees.

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Residential Tenant Vacates Apartment Before End of Lease Term:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Did Landlord Have/Fulfill Duty to Mitigate Damages by Reletting?

In 2019, the New York State Legislature amended the Real Property Law to mandate that landlords “shall, in good faith and according to the landlord’s resources and abilities, take reasonable and customary actions to rent the premises” vacated by a tenant during the term of a residential lease. Thus, landlords under residential leases now have the same obligations as commercial landlords to attempt to mitigate their damages when a tenant vacates the premises in violation of the lease. Needless to say, as a recent case illustrates, the Court may be called upon to determine if the actions taken by a landlord to re-let a vacated apartment were reasonable and customary.

The 14 East 4th Street Unit 509 LLC moved for partial summary judgment on its first and fourth causes of action, for breach of contract for unpaid rent and attorney’s fees, respectively, as well as to dismiss affirmative defenses and counterclaim of Michael Toporek—who opposed the motion and cross-moved for summary judgment on all East 4th’s causes of action and on his counterclaim.

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Halloween Party Guest Injured in Fall from Loading Dock:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was Owner of Apartment Building Liable for Damages?

Occasionally, as recited in a decision, the facts of a dispute boggle the mind. A recent case is illustrative.

On October 27, 2012, Steve Savitz attended a Halloween party hosted by Ari Taub at his apartment building, a former warehouse that had been converted into a residential rental building, owned by Lido Knitting, Inc. The building was equipped with a loading dock, which was used by the tenants for dropping off and picking up bulky items at the building. The loading dock area was lit by a 120-watt, switch-controlled spotlight mounted high on the back wall of the loading dock, which was illuminated at all times unless the building’s superintendent turned it off for maintenance purposes.

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Bats in Attic of Two-Family Residence:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Did Second Tenant Engage in Unreasonable Behavior?

Bats infested the attic of a house in Hamptonburgh that renters occupied on the two floors. Was the second-floor tenant subject to eviction for failure to cooperate in remediation?

Coldenham, LLC owned a two-family residence located at 51 Neelytown Road in Hamptonburgh.  Katrina Maldonado and her two children lived in the second-floor apartment for over four years. Joyce Foulkes resided in the first-floor apartment for about twenty years.

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Bats in Attic of Two-Family Residence:

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Did Second Tenant Engage in Unreasonable Behavior?

Bats infested the attic of a house in Hamptonburgh that renters occupied on the two floors. Was the second-floor tenant subject to eviction for failure to cooperate in remediation?

Coldenham, LLC owned a two-family residence located at 51 Neelytown Road in Hamptonburgh.  Katrina Maldonado and her two children lived in the second-floor apartment for over four years. Joyce Foulkes resided in the first-floor apartment for about twenty years.

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Tenant Claimed Medical Hardship as Defense to Eviction:

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Did Landlord Rebut Presumption of Medical Hardship?

During the Covid pandemic, a residential tenant claiming a medical hardship is protected from eviction. The tenant’s claim is presumed to be true. But, as a recent case illustrates, the presumption is rebuttable.

Douglas Mintz and Lloyd Cheu sought to evict Louise Elton from a rent-free, stand-alone cottage on their property. The Court conducted a hearing to address the rebuttable presumption of the medical hardship claimed by Elton as outlined in Option B to Tenant’s Declaration of Hardship During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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Sibling Rivalry at Residential Condominium Unit:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Brother Sues to Evict Sister from Apartment

I often report about decisions involving inter-generational family disputes. But, as a recent case illustrates, the Court may be called upon to adjudicate an intra-generational quarrel.

Leo Yau and Lucy Yau are siblings. Leo, the apartment owner in a residential condominium, allowed Lucy to live in the unit.  Lucy made payments for her occupancy that “covered” Leo’s costs, including his mortgage and monthly maintenance.  Leo reserved one of the two bedrooms in the apartment for his own occasional use. And Lucy made occasional payments directly to the condominium board for maintenance and repairs to the apartment.

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Lease Permitted Restaurant at Ol’ Bridge Café on 24th Street

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was Tenant Permitted to Operate Unlicensed Cabaret?

Use clauses in commercial leases are intended to unambiguously define and delineate the business purposes contemplated for the space. But, as a recent case illustrates, the landlord and tenant may disagree on whether or not the actual use is permitted.

39-50 24th St. Realty Corp, as landlord, and Ol’ Bridge Cafe Inc., as tenant, entered into a commercial lease agreement for 39-48/50 24th Street, Ground Floor Store, Long Island City, for a term of five (5) years commencing February 1, 2016.

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“Slip and Fall” in Resi Building Elevator On Rainy Day

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was Owner Liable For Personal Injury Claimed

The “storm in progress” rule protects real property owners from sidewalk-related “slip and fall” claims until a reasonable amount of time after rain or snow abates. But, as a recent case illustrates, different rules apply where the weather-related accident takes place inside the building while it is raining outside.

Woon Yin Kwan resides at 20 Confucius Plaza located in New York County. The building is owned by Chinatown Apartments, Inc. and managed by Tudor Realty Services Corp.

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Landlord Seeks Nuisance Eviction Based Upon Violent Gang Activity

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

Would Witnesses Be Allowed to Testify Anonymously At Trial?

A multi-family residential building is terrorized by members of an armed and violent street gang that congregates in one of the apartments. The landlord seeks to evict the tenants of that unit in a so-called “nuisance” summary proceeding—in which many of the witnesses would be neighbors of the gang-member/tenants. But those witnesses fear for their safety and want to testify anonymously. And the Court is asked for permission for them to do so. Are the tenants charged with misconduct entitled to know the identities of the witnesses against them? 

Y.A. Mullings Inc. filed a holdover proceeding against Veronica Hall, Oriceida Yearwood, Marcus Yearwood, and Malcolm Yearwood seeking possession of 394 Montgomery Street, Apt. 4B in Brooklyn and alleged that they have committed a nuisance. Mullings asked the Court to permit its witnesses to testify at a closed hearing at which the tenants would not be able to observe the faces or ascertain the identities of the witnesses.

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