Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The determination of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) that income reported on a joint tax return filed on behalf of an occupant and non-occupant of a housing accommodation may not be apportioned to determine the occupant’s individual annual income for purposes of ascertaining if the deregulation income threshold has been met was rational and does not run counter to the language of the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1993. Petitioner, the owner of the building where Respondent was a tenant of the subject rent-controlled apartment, served a tenant and her husband with an income certification form (ICF) pursuant to New York City Rent Control Law. When they did not respond, Petitioner filed a petition with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) to verify whether the total annual income of the occupants exceeded the deregulation income threshold for the two years preceding the filing of the ICF. DHCR denied Petitioner’s petition for deregulation. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the income of the tenant’s husband was properly excluded from the calculation of total annual income because he was not an occupant of the housing accommodation when the ICF was served. View "Matter of Brookford, LLC v. New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Altman subleased from Rider, the apartment's tenant since 1993. Rider had a rent-stabilized lease at $1,829.49 per month. In 2004, the landlord commenced a nonpayment proceeding against both men. Altman and the landlord entered into a settlement, agreeing that Rider would surrender all rights to the apartment and the landlord would deliver a new lease to Altman. A "Deregulation Rider," stating that the apartment was not rent-stabilized "because the legal rent was or became $2000 or more on vacancy" after the statutory vacancy increase was added to the last regulated rent. The landlord removed the apartment from registration based on "high rent vacancy." Defendant purchased the premises and, in 2007, entered into a fair market renewal lease with Altman at $2,600 per month. Altman agreed to refrain from challenging the nonregulated status of the apartment. Beginning in 2008, the owner commenced a series of nonpayment proceedings against Altman. Altman did not challenge the apartment's deregulated status. In 2014, Altman sought a declaration that the premises are subject to rent stabilization. On remand, the Supreme Court held that, although the owner was entitled to a 20% rent increase for Altman's initial lease, that increase did not deregulate the apartment. The New York Court of Appeals reversed. The 20% vacancy increase should be included when calculating the regulated rent to determine whether an apartment has reached the $2,000 deregulation threshold in the Rent Stabilization Law, section 26-511 [c]. View "Altman v 285 W. Fourth LLC" on Justia Law

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Aponte moved into his mother's one-bedroom New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)-owned apartment and cared for her until she died in 2012. Two requests for Aponte to be granted permanent permission to live with his mother were denied. After she died, Aponte requested to be allowed to lease her apartment as a "remaining family member." NYCHA denied his request, finding that Aponte lacked permanent permission to reside in the apartment; management properly denied such permission because Aponte's presence would have violated occupancy rules for overcrowding. A person lacking permanent permission to reside in an apartment is not eligible for RFM status. The Court of Appeals upheld the denial. Under its rules, NYCHA could not have granted Aponte permanent permission to reside in his mother's apartment, and thus could not have granted his request for RFM status. NYCHA's rules contemplate that a tenant may require a live-in home-care attendant, either for a transient illness or the last stages of life, and expressly allow for such an attendant as a temporary resident, even if that permission will result in "overcrowding," regardless of whether the attendant is related to the tenant. NYCHA's policy is not arbitrary and capricious for not allowing Aponte to bypass the 250,000-household waiting line as a reward for enduring an "overcrowded" living situation while caring for his mother. View "Aponte v Olatoye" on Justia Law

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The New York State Department of Health (DOH) complied with its responsibilities under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) in assessing Jewish Home Lifecare’s (JHL) application to construct a new residential facility in New York City. Petitioners, parents of students attending a public elementary school next door to the proposed construction site and tenants living in apartment buildings surrounding the site, brought these two article 78 proceedings seeking to annul, vacate and set aside DOH’s determination, arguing that DOH relied on flawed assessment methodologies and failed adequately to mitigate the environmental dangers associated with the construction. Supreme Court vacated and annulled DOH’s approval of JHL’s application, concluding that DOH followed proper SEQRA procedures but failed adequately to consider all relevant mitigation measures. The appellate division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that DOH complied with its SEQRA responsibilities by identifying and assessing relevant environmental hazards and imposed mitigation measures to protect public health and safety. View "Friends of P.S. 163, Inc. v. Jewish Home Lifecare, Manhattan" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether, prior to the use of affix and mail service of Notices of Violation (NOVs) issued by Department of Building inspectors who discover building code violations, the New York City Charter requires more than a single attempt to personally serve the NOV at the premises. The Environmental Control Board (ECB) sustained Petitioner’s code violations, rejecting Petitioner’s argument that the NOVs were not properly served because more than one attempt at personal service is required prior to the use of the alternative affix and mail procedure authorized in New York City Chapter 1049-a(d)(2)(a)(ii). The Appellate Division confirmed the determination. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the agency properly interpreted New York City Charter 1049-a(d)(2)(b) to require only one attempt at personal service of an NOV at the premises prior to resorting to the affix and mail procedure; and (2) thus, the seven NOVs that were reviewed in the administrative hearings were properly served. View "Mestecky v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought this hybrid N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding and a declaratory judgment action seeking to enjoin the proposed development of parkland in Queens. The proposed development, called Willets West, involved the construction of a shopping mall and movie theater where Shea Stadium once stood. Plaintiffs alleged that because the development was located within parkland, the public trust doctrine required legislative authorization. Supreme Court denied the petition. The Appellate Division reversed and granted the petition to the extent of declaring that construction of the development on city parkland without the authorization of the state legislature violated the public trust doctrine. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the statutory language and legislative history demonstrated that the legislature did not grant the City the authority to contract a development such as Willets West in Flushing Meadows Park. View "Avella v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) placed liens upon property for reimbursement of relocation expenses pursuant to Administrative Code 26-305. The two petitioners in these consolidated appeals filed petitions seeking to summarily vacate the liens, alleging that the liens were invalid. Supreme Court dismissed the petitions, concluding that summary discharge was inappropriate because determination of the lien’s underlying validity was a matter for a foreclosure trial. Both judgments were appealed. In one case, the Appellate Division reversed, holding that the notice of lien was facially invalid and should be discharged because the notice of lien sought an unreasonable amount of expenses. The Court of Appeals reversed in that case and affirmed in the other case, holding that the liens filed by HPD here were facially valid, and so summary discharge was not appropriate. View "Rivera v. Department of Housing Preservation & Development of the City of New York" on Justia Law

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The case stemmed from a dispute over property subject to the terms of a will executed by a now-deceased member of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation (the Nation). Judge Robert Noonan, a county court and surrogate’s court judge, presided over the proceedings seeking to probate the will in the surrogate’s court. The Nation commenced a N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding in the Appellate Division seeking to prohibit the judge or any future surrogate in the estate proceeding from exercising jurisdiction over the case. The Appellate Division dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the proceeding must originate in Supreme Court. At issue on appeal was whether the proceeding must originate in Supreme Court because Judge Noonan’s position as Surrogate was not one listed in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 506(b)(1), which limits article 78 proceedings that may be commenced in the Appellate Division to those against County Court Judges and Supreme Court Justices, or whether Judge Noonan’s position as a county court judge required that the proceeding be commenced in the Appellate Division. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, where Judge Noonan was acting as Surrogate with respect to the probate of the will, the Nation’s suit challenging those actions should have been brought in Supreme Court. View "Tonawanda Seneca Nation v. Noonan" on Justia Law

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The owner commenced tax certiorari proceedings against the City of Rye, challenging assessments for tax years 2002-2010. for Lot 9 and Lot 10. Lot 10 is within the Rye City School District. Lot 9, which the owner believed to be within that district, actually lies within Rye Neck Union School District. Under RPTL 708, within 10 days of service of the notice and petition on a municipality in a tax certiorari proceeding, a petitioner must mail a copy of those documents to the superintendent of schools of any district within which the assessed property is located. The owner did not comply with that requirements before reaching an agreement with the City. Before that tentative settlement was finalized, the owner recognized its error, notified the Rye District, mailed the petition and notice, and sought the Rye District's consent to settle. The District instead intervened. The court dismissed the petitions with prejudice for failure to comply with RPTL 708. The Appellate Division clarified that dismissal pertained to Lot 9, noting that the action may not be recommenced under CPLR 205(a). The Court of Appeals affirmed. A petitioner who ignores the RPTL 708 mailing requirements and denies a school district the opportunity to economically address a tax certiorari proceeding is not permitted to recommence a proceeding dismissed based upon such noncompliance; to do so would undermine the goals that prompted amendments to RPTL 708. View "Westchester Joint Water Works v Assessor of City of Rye" on Justia Law

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A condominium board commenced a foreclosure action on a condominium unit to recover unpaid common charges owed by the previous unit owner. Two mortgages were consolidated into a single mortgage lien years before the condominium board filed its common charges lien. Plaintiff, the winning bidder in the foreclosure action, commenced this action seeking a judgment declaring that the second mortgage was subordinate to the subsequently recorded common charges lien and was therefore extinguished by the condominium board’s successful action. Supreme Court declared that the consolidation agreement was the first mortgage of record and that Plaintiff purchased the unit subject to the consolidated mortgage. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the consolidated mortgage qualifies as the first mortgage of record under N.Y. Real Prop. Law 9-B. View "Plotch v. Citibank, N.A." on Justia Law