Case Notes

Case Notes provides insight on one particularly relevant co-op or condo case—clearly explaining what happened, why it’s important, and what lessons can be learned within.

285 results
First published: Aug 2022
Wyche v. Haywood-Diaz

TAKEAWAY For shareholders who are disgruntled with the current board and want a new election, there are mechanisms for doing so. But if it’s not according to your co-op’s bylaws or New York’s Business Corporation Law, be warned. A court of law will not recognize the election, you will have spent an enormous amount of time (and potentially legal fees), and the old board will remain in place.

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First published: Aug 2022
67-69 St. Nicholas Ave. Hous. Dev. Fund Corp. V. Green

TAKEAWAY This case is a cautionary tale. Individuals who serve as members of a cooperative board owe a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the corporation. The record in this case shows that the defendant, Siwana Green, together with at least one relative who also served on the board until they were voted out in 2018, succeeded at enriching themselves while failing to ensure that the co-op paid the City of New York more than $1 million for real estate taxes and water charges, resulting in a foreclosure proceeding and leaving the building in dire financial straits.

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First published: Jul 2022
Who Pays the Piper

This case is a stark reminder to condominiums that many of their bylaws do not provide the right for the condominium to recover attorney’s fees when a unit owner defaults on a non-monetary obligation. Boards should look to amend these provisions to allow for legal fee recovery since there are many common situations where a condominium board is forced to bring action to enjoin a non-monetary default (unauthorized alterations, illegal use, unreasonable noise, and short-term rentals are just a few).

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First published: Jul 2022
David vs. Goliath

This case illustrates why property damage claims usually go to trial if they’re not settled. The cause and scope of damage is a factual question. The plaintiff makes fact-based arguments to show how the other party caused the damage, and the defendant makes fact-based claims why they were not responsible for the damage. Unless the court deems that one party had no legal duty (or had an unbreakable legal duty) to the other, or the evidence on one side is overwhelming, the court will usually elect to have a jury (or the court) weigh the credibility of the competing claimants at a trial, rather than making a judgment based on depositions and documents alone. These cases can last for several years, draining the resources of a condominium or co-op and negatively affecting owners’ ability to sell or obtain mortgages in the interim. Even though many of these claims have a basis in fact, boards need to weigh the unintended consequences on the community before making them.

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First published: Jul 2022
Bd. Of Mgrs. Of 207-209 E. 120th St. Condo. V. Dougan

TAKEAWAY This case is a stark reminder to condominiums that many of their bylaws do not provide the right for the condominium to recover attorney’s fees when a unit owner defaults on a non-monetary obligation. Boards should look to amend these provisions to allow for legal fee recovery since there are many common situations where a condominium board is forced to bring action to enjoin a non-monetary default (unauthorized alterations, illegal use, unreasonable noise, and short-term rentals are just a few).

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First published: Jul 2022
295 Greenwich Court Condominium, LLC. V. Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.

This case illustrates why property damage claims usually go to trial if they’re not settled. The cause and scope of damage is a factual question. The plaintiff makes fact-based arguments to show how the other party caused the damage, and the defendant makes fact-based claims why they were not responsible for the damage. Unless the court deems that one party had no legal duty (or had an unbreakable legal duty) to the other, or the evidence on one side is overwhelming, the court will usually elect to have a jury (or the court) weigh the credibility of the competing claimants at a trial, rather than making a judgment based on depositions and documents alone. These cases can last for several years, draining the resources of a condominium or co-op and negatively affecting owners’ ability to sell or obtain mortgages in the interim. Even though many of these claims have a basis in fact, boards need to weigh the unintended consequences on the community before making them.

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First published: Jul 2022
Bd. Of Mgrs. Of 207-209 E. 120th St. Condo. V. Dougan

This case is a stark reminder to condominiums that many of their bylaws do not provide the right for the condominium to recover attorney’s fees when a unit owner defaults on a non-monetary obligation. Boards should look to amend these provisions to allow for legal fee recovery since there are many common situations where a condominium board is forced to bring action to enjoin a non-monetary default (unauthorized alterations, illegal use, unreasonable noise, and short-term rentals are just a few).

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First published: Jun 2022
Yoonoak Kang V. Douglas Elliman Property Management

Managing agents are often treated like pin cushions, and over the last several years their jobs have been made even harder with increasing city regulations on everything from caps on gas stoves to sorting out who is and isn’t eligible to receive tax abatements. Here, the managing agent did nothing wrong, but had to incur the time and aggravation to deal with a disgruntled owner whose records were unclear regarding the location of her primary residence.

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First published: Jun 2022
Tax Abatement Tangle

Managing agents are often treated like pin cushions, and over the last several years their jobs have been made even harder with increasing city regulations on everything from caps on gas stoves to sorting out who is and isn’t eligible to receive tax abatements. Here, the managing agent did nothing wrong, but had to incur the time and aggravation to deal with a disgruntled owner whose records were unclear regarding the location of her primary residence.

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First published: Jun 2022
A Dog Fight: Commercial Board vs Residential Board

Ouch, two big lessons. One, do not ignore a lawsuit. Your first call upon learning of a lawsuit must be to an attorney, there will be time to try to settle it later. Two, don’t present the court with a story that can be refuted by your own emails. The court’s decision bristles with umbrage at the demonstrably misleading statements of the defendant, and the individual is lucky the court was satisfied with denying the motion. The court might have issued sanctions.

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