Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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The Court of Appeals held that the construction of approximately twenty-seven miles of Class II community connector trails designed for snowmobile use in the Forest Preserve violated the "forever wild" provision of N.Y. Const. art. XIV, 1 and, therefore, could not be accomplished other than by constitutional amendment.The Forest Preserve is located within the Adirondack Park. In 2006, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation prepared a plan with the goal of creating a system of snowmobile trails between communities in the Adirondack Park. Plaintiff commenced this action alleging that construction of the trails violated article XIV, 1 of the New York Constitution. Supreme Court held that the construction was constitutional. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the planned Class II trails were constitutionally forbidden. View "Protect the Adirondacks! Inc. v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation" on Justia Law

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In this appeal involving a foreclosure action commenced in federal court, the Court of Appeals answered two questions posed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit implicating what a lender must do to comply with N.Y. Real Prop. Act. & Proc. Law (RPAPL) 1304 and 1306.The Court of Appeals answered (1) where a presumption of mailing and receipt arises from evidence in the form of a standard office mailing procedure a borrower can rebut a lender's proof of compliance with RPAPL 1304 with proof of a material deviation from the ordinary practice that calls into doubt whether the notice was properly mailed; and (2) with respect to an RPAPL 1306 filing, the statute does not require the inclusion of information about each individual liable on the loan, and information about only one borrower is sufficient. View "CIT Bank N.A. v. Schiffman" on Justia Law

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In these four appeals turning on the timeliness of a mortgage foreclosure claim and involving the intersection of contracts affecting real property ownership and the application of the statute of limitations, the Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division order in each case must be reversed.In two cases, the issue was when the maturity of the debt was accelerated, commencing the six-year statute of limitations period. The remaining issues in the other cases turned on whether the noteholder's voluntary discontinuance of a prior foreclosure action revoked acceleration of the debt, thus reinstating the borrower's right under contract to repay the loan in installments. The Court of Appeals held (1) in the first case, the default letter in question did not accelerate the debt; (2) in the second case, two complaints in prior discontinued foreclosure actions that failed to reference the pertinent loan were not sufficient to constitute a valid acceleration; and (3) as to the remaining issues, where the maturity of the debt has been validly accelerated by commencement of a foreclosure action, the noteholder's voluntary withdrawal of that action revokes the election to accelerate. View "Freedom Mortgage Corp. v. Engel" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals concluded that the Town of Irondequoit and the Town of Brighton were entitled to relief on their claims challenging the determination of Monroe County that it would not credit unpaid property maintenance and demolition charges, holding that the County was required to credit the maintenance and demolition charges.The Towns adopted local town code provisions authorizing the imposition of property maintenance and demolition requirements on real property owners providing for reimbursement of any maintenance and demolition costs incurred by the towns. The County later issued a memorandum stating that it would no longer guarantee the maintenance and demolition charges. The Towns then initiated this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding and declaratory judgment action seeking to annul the County's determination. Supreme Court granted relief to the towns, concluding that the charges were unpaid taxes that the County was required to credit. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division and, as so modified, affirmed, holding that the charges at issue must be credited pursuant N.Y. Real Prop. Tax Law 936. View "Town of Irondequoit v. County of Monroe" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the Board of Standards and Appeals of the City of New York (BSA) interpreting the definition of open space within the meaning of the New York City Zoning Resolution to encompass rooftop gardens accessible to a single building's residents as long as the residents of each building on the zoning lot receive at least a proportionate share of open space, holding that the BSA's determination was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law.Plaintiff commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding asserting that BSA's interpretation of open space had no legal basis under the Zoning Resolution. Supreme Court denied the petition. The Appellate Division reversed, determining that the definition of open space unambiguously required that open space be accessible to the residents of every building on a zoning lot. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the BSA's application of the definition of open space to multi-owner zoning lots was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law. View "Peyton v. New York City Board of Standards & Appeals" on Justia Law

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In these four appeals presenting a common issue under the Rent Stabilization Law (RSL) the Court of Appeals held that the new overcharge calculation provisions set forth in part F, section 7 of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA) does not apply to these appeals and that these appeals must be resolved under the law in effect at the time the overcharges occurred.Each of these cases involved an apartment that was treated as deregulated consistent with then-prevailing Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) regulations before the Court of Appeals rejected that guidance in Roberts v. Tishman Speyer Properties, L.P., 13 NY3d 270 (2009). After the Court of Appeals decided Roberts, the tenants commenced overcharge claims under the RSL. At issue in these cases - sent to the Court of Appeals by leave of the Appellate Division before enactment of the HSTPA - was how to calculate the legal regulated rent in order to determine whether a recoverable overcharge occurred. The Court of Appeals held (1) the overcharge calculation and treble damages provision in part F of the HSTPA may not be applied retroactively; and (2) therefore, these claims must be resolved pursuant to the law in effect when the purported overcharges occurred. View "Regina Metropolitan Co. v. New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal" on Justia Law

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In these appeals stemming from two residential mortgage-back securities (RMBS) transactions the Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division reversing the judgment of Supreme Court and granting Defendants' motions to dismiss the complaints alleging breaches of representations and warranties made in underlying mortgage loans, holding that Plaintiff's causes of action accrued in California, and Plaintiff's actions were untimely pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 202.Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's actions, contending that pursuant to section 202 Plaintiff's causes of action accrued in California and were therefore untimely. Plaintiff conceded that it was a resident of California but argued that the court should apply a multi-factor analysis to determine where the cause of action accrued. Supreme Court denied Defendants' motions to dismiss, noting that the parties had chosen New York substantive law to govern their rights. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) this Court declines to apply the multi-factor test urged by Plaintiff and instead relies on the general rule that when an economic injury has occurred the place of injury is usually where the plaintiff residents; and (2) where Plaintiff is a resident of California, to satisfy section 202 Plaintiff's actions must be timely under California's statute of limitations. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Barclays Bank PLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division's order affirming Supreme Court's dismissal of Plaintiff's action brought under N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. Law 1504(1) to discharge a mortgage on grounds that the statute of limitations on Defendant's foreclosure claim had expired, holding that Defendant's claims were not time barred.Under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 204(a), New York law tolls the statute of limitations where the "commencement of an action has been stayed by a court or by statutory prohibition." At issue was whether the bankruptcy stay of any judicial proceedings against a debtor upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition qualifies as a "statutory prohibition" under section 204(a). Defendant filed two foreclosure actions against Plaintiff, Plaintiff filed two bankruptcy petitions, and automatic bankruptcy stays were imposed. Plaintiff brought this action asserting that the statute of limitations on Defendant's foreclosure claim had expired. Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that the statute of limitations had not expired because it was tolled while the bankruptcy stay was in effect. Supreme Court dismissed, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the bankruptcy stay is a "statutory prohibition" within the ambit of the New York tolling statute; and (2) Defendant's claims were not time barred when Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. View "Lubonty v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming a Supreme Court judgment enjoining a three-day music and camping festival on Landowner's rural property in the Town of Delaware, holding that the challenged provisions of local zoning laws did not unconstitutionally restrict Landowner's First Amendment rights and were not void for vagueness.Landowner planned to sponsor on his sixty-eight-acre property a three-day event during which attendees would camp on the property and view live outdoor music performances. The Town commenced this action seeking an injunction against the event, alleging it was prohibited by the Town's Zoning Law. Supreme Court granted the Town's motion for summary judgment and permanently enjoined Landowner from holding the festival on his property. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that that relevant Zoning Law provisions were content-neutral time, place, and manner restrictions compatible with the First Amendment. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the zoning provisions at issue satisfied the intermediate scrutiny test for content-neutral time, place and manner restrictions and survived Defendant's overbreadth challenge; and (2) Landowner's facial and as-applied void for vagueness challenges likewise failed. View "Town of Delaware v. Leifer" 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