Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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In this case involving injuries Plaintiff received from the condition of demised premises the Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming Supreme Court's order holding that Defendants, owners of the property, were out-of-possession landlords and were entitled to the protection of the general rule that such landlords will not be liable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions on the leased premises. In Putnam v. Stout, 38 N.Y.2d 607 (1976), the Court of Appeals recognized a limited exception to the rule that an out-of-possession landlord is not liable for injuries resulting from the condition of the demised premises where the landlord covenants in the lease or otherwise to keep the land in repair. At issue in this case was whether the exception recognized in Putnam applied to a regulatory agreement between Defendants and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, as guarantor of the mortgage on Defendants' premises. The Court of Appeals held that the exception to the general rule set forth in Putnam was inapplicable to the regulatory agreement at issue in this case and that the general rule that the landlord was not liable for conditions upon the land after the transfer of possession applied. View "Henry v. Hamilton Equities, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division reversing Supreme Court's order denying Defendants' motion for summary judgment and rejecting their arguments that out-of-possession landowners are not liable for personal injuries based on negligent sidewalk maintenance where, under lease terms, the lessee agreed to maintain the abutting sidewalks, holding that Defendants were not entitled to summary judgment due solely to the owners' out-of-possession status. Plaintiff sued owners of property in New York City for personal injuries arising from Plaintiff's slip and fall on the ice that had accumulated on the sidewalk abutting the property. The Appellate Division reversed Supreme Court and granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis that the out-of-possession landowners had no contractual obligation to maintain sidewalks. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) section 7-210 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York makes no exception to the general rule that real property owners have a nondelegable duty to maintain City sidewalks abutting their land in a reasonably safe condition; and (2) therefore, Defendants were subject to the nondelegable duty imposed by section 7-210, exposing them to potential liability for injuries allegedly caused by their failure to properly remove snow and ice from the sidewalks abutting their property. View "Xiang Fu He v. Troon Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division modifying Supreme Court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' amended class action complaint by denying the part of the motion seeking dismissal of the class action claims against Defendants except to the extent those allegations addressed the cause of action for violation of N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law 349, holding that the claims for class relief should not have been dismissed without a judicial determination as to whether the prerequisites of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 902 had been satisfied. Plaintiffs, current and former tenants in buildings within multiple apartment buildings, alleged that individual corporate defendants that owned various buildings at issue were owned or controlled by a single holding company and that Defendants, in an effort to extract additional value from the properties, engaged in improper and illegal conduct" by, among other things, inflating rents above the amounts Defendant were legally permitted to charge. Before an answer was filed, Supreme Court dismissed the complaint, concluding that there was no basis for class relief. The Appellate Division modified Supreme Court's order, concluding that dismissal at this stage was premature. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that dismissal of class claims based on allegations of a methodical attempt to illegally inflate rents was premature. View "Maddicks v Big City Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals accepted a question certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals and answered that if an entered divorce judgment grants a spouse an interest in real property pursuant to N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law 236, and the spouse does not docket the divorce judgment in the county where the property is located, the spouse's interest is not subject to attachment by a subsequent judgment creditor that has docketed its judgment and seeks to execute against the property. A judgment creditor sought to execute against property that, in a divorce settlement, was to be sold and Wife was to receive a portion of the proceeds. The judgment creditor argued that, because it docketed its judgment before Wife docketed her judgment of divorce, the creditor had priority over Wife with respect to the property. The federal district court concluded that the judgment of divorce did not transform Wife into a judgment creditor of Husband but, rather, worked an equitable distribution of their marital assets. The federal court of appeals certified a question of law to the Court of Appeals, which held that the divorce judgment did not render Wife a judgment creditor of Husband, and therefore, Wife was not subject to the docketing requirements of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 5203. View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division reversing the judgment of Supreme Court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, individual tenants of rented apartments owned by Defendants, on their complaint seeking a declaration that their apartments were subject to rent stabilization, holding that apartments in buildings receiving tax benefits pursuant to N.Y. Real Prop. Tax law (RPTL) 421-g are not subject to luxury deregulation. Plaintiffs' apartments were located in building receiving tax benefits subject to RPTL 421-g. Defendants argued that Plaintiffs' apartments were exempt from rent regulation under the luxury deregulation provisions added to the Rent Stabilization Law (RSL), Administrative Code of City of New York 26-504.1, as part of the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1993. The Appellate Division agreed and granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment to the extent of declaring that Plaintiffs' apartments were properly deregulated and were not subject to rent stabilization. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiffs' apartments were not subject to the luxury deregulation provisions of the RSL. View "Kuzmich v. 50 Murray St. Acquisition LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division granting Respondents' motion to dismiss Petitioner's petitions challenging real property assessments, holding that Petitioner lacked standing to bring an action seeking judicial review of property tax assessments under N.Y. Real Prop. Law (RPTL) 7 because Petitioner was a non-owner with no legal authorization or obligation to pay the real property taxes and, therefore, was not an aggrieved party with in the meaning of RPTL 7. Petitioner was a family-owned corporation that operated a restaurant on the property at issue. The real property was owned by two individuals. For four tax years Petitioner filed administrative grievance complaints challenging the real property assessments. The board of assessment review confirmed the tax assessments. Thereafter, Petitioner commenced tax certiorari proceedings pursuant to RPTL article 7. Supreme Court denied Respondents' motion to dismiss the petitions. The Appellate Division reversed and granted Respondents' motions to dismiss, concluding that, while Petitioner had standing as an aggrieved party, Petitioner failed to satisfy a condition precedent to the filing of the petitions. The Court of Appeals affirmed on other grounds, holding that Petitioner lacked standing. View "Larchmont Pancake House v. Board of Assessors" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that N.Y. Real Prop. Law 339-y(4) allows a standing authorization issued by a condominium unit owner to confer authority upon a condominium board of managers to act on behalf of that owner for the tax year in which that authorization was issued and in all subsequent tax years. At issue were various tax assessments made with respect to property that consisted of individually-owned condominium units. The condominium units were assessed for four tax years during which Petitioner, the condominium board of managers, acting as the agent for individual owners, filed a grievance complaint with Respondents with respect to those assessments. Respondents denied the complaints. Acting as agent for each of the unit owners, Petitioner filed one petition for each of the tax years, alleging that Respondents had incorrectly assessed the units. Supreme Court ruled that the only unit owners who would receive a refund would be those who subscribed to a separate authorization for each of the separate tax years at issue. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that where an owner subscribes to a standing agency authorization conferring authority on a board of managers to act on behalf of that owner, section 339-y(4) allows that authorization to remain effective until it is cancelled or retracted. View "Eastbrooke Condominium v. Ainsworth" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the decision of Supreme Court annulling the decision of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to approve the redevelopment of 346 Broadway, a historic building that the LPC previously designated as a landmark, holding that the LPC's decision was not irrational or affected by errors of law. If an application seeks to alter or demolish a landmark, the LPC must issue a certificate of appropriateness (COA) before the proposed work can begin. In this case, a developer seeking to convert the 346 Broadway into private residences sought a COA from the LPC. The LPC approved the proposal. Supreme Court annulled the COA, The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division erred in concluding that the LPC acted with "no rational basis" and that the LPC's decisions were not affected by an error of law. View "Save America's Clocks, Inc. v City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of Supreme Court dismissing this action filed by the trustee (Trustee) of three residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) alleging violations of representations and warranties regarding the quality of loans contained in the respective securitization trust instruments, holding that the Trustee’s untimely-filed complaint cannot relate back under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 203(f) to a certificate holder’s previously filed action. Defendant served as seller and sponsor of three RMBS securitization trusts, each governed by a separate pooling and servicing agreement. A certificate holder later filed a notice claiming violations of the representations and warranties for each of the trusts. After the limitations period elapsed, the Trustee filed this complaint. Supreme Court dismissed the action with prejudice. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the complaint was time-barred and that the Trustee could not rely on the prior action because the certificate holder lacked standing to sues. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the certificate holder’s action was subject to dismissal, and there was no valid pre-existing action to which a claim in a subsequent amended pleading may relate back. View "U.S. Bank National Ass’n v. DLJ Mortgage Capital, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division determining that certain telecommunications equipment was taxable property pursuant to N.Y. Real Prop. Tax Law (RPTL) 102(12)(i), holding that the Appellate Division properly found that the equipment was taxable under the statute. The equipment at issue was certain large cellular data transmission equipment owed by T-Mobile Northeast, LLC and mounted to the exterior of buildings throughout T-Mobile’s service area in Mount Vernon. T-Mobile brought this hybrid declaratory judgment action and N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding seeking a declaration that the property was not taxable. Supreme Court dismissed the proceeding, holding that the property was taxable under the RPTL. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that T-Mobile’s arguments on appeal lacked merit. View "T-Mobile Northeast, LLC v. DeBellis" on Justia Law