Only tenants have certain rights in unlivable unit

After Sandy struck, residents of 88 Greenwich St. in the Financial District originally were told it would be four months before they could go home.

There is a section of property law that declares tenants’ right to live in conditions not dangerous, hazardous or detrimental to their life, health or safety.

Under the “warranty of habitability,” tenants have the right to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment.

Under the warranty — in other words, guarantee — a unit must provide heat or hot water on a regular basis.  Other issues include, leaks, mold, broken plumbing, elevator service in high-rise building and insect infestation.

It is up to the landlord to remediate conditions that make a rental unit unlivable, no matter the cause.  If a landlord fails to act, the warranty of habitability provides tenants with the opportunity to obtain financial relief in one of three ways. Continue reading

Many sip from well of homes that sell

(flickr photo by f_shields)

When residential property changes hands, not only do the seller, listing broker and selling broker collect coin.  The number of individuals and businesses involved ranges from appraisers to window washers.

Among the others who commonly derive direct benefit from the transaction, many of them more often outside Manhattan, are termite, radon and home inspectors; mortgage companies; loan officers; lender support staff; underwriters; home warranty companies; law firms; lawyers; legal assistants; and settlement companies.

Let’s not forget Continue reading

Can everybody just get along?

(Flickr photo by James Cridland)

In times of economic distress, it’s natural for folks to consider optional housing possibilities.

Communal living is, of course, an age-old system that has, however, tended to lose its appeal among those who have experimented with it in this country.  Yet kibbutzim do seem to work pretty well in Israel.

Here, it is easy to imagine that collective homeownership could catch on as the solution to prices that remain out of reach for many of us.  However, such arrangements are not without their complexities, as Phoebe Chongchua reminds readers in Realty Times.

Questions that must be considered carefully include the following:

  • In the case of two couples in a household, what happens if there should be a divorce?
  • What if someone doesn’t keep up with monthly payments?  And what if someone just wants to drop out?
  • How will responsibilities as mundane as taking out the garbage or as material as paying the bills be divided?  And how will adherence to those responsibilities be enforced?
  • Since living full time with others is way different from a vacation with them, what assurance do the participants have that they will be able to stand each other month after month?

It is wise for those exploring the possibility of collective ownership to discuss their vision for the endeavor exhaustively and to understand what an enormous effort will be necessary for a harmonious relationship to survive close quarters.

For anyone diving into the choppy waters of collective ownership, nothing will be more important than working with a lawyer to draft an agreement that covers the full range of imaginable circumstances such as the possibilities that I’ve barely touched upon in the bullet points above.

I’ve seen often enough how hard it can be for one committed couple to agree on the new home they seek for themselves.  To have more individuals involved has to make even that process more difficult by whole magnitudes, never mind all the other areas of potential disagreement that are bound to follow.

Although any tradeoffs of collective homeownership may, for some, prove to be a better option than spending too much of their income on rent or mortgage payments, the participants certainly need to go down that road not with starry eyes but with hard-nosed analysis.

Frankly, I’m pretty cynical about the odds of success.

Next: A cup runneth. . . (No Weekly Roundup until April 5)

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

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When pricing low, think through some outcomes

In a seller’s or even balanced market, one strategy to get the best price is to offer the property below its estimated market value.

The idea is that a low asking price will engender competitive bidding, otherwise known by a term I don’t much like — a bidding war.

However, wise is the seller who Continue reading

Out and About: Divinity is in the Details

Next Out and About April 8

Front door of apartment on Riverside Drive.

Front door of apartment on Riverside Drive.

Sometimes, it is not the layout, spaciousness or fine finishes that sell an apartment, not the overall characteristics.  Instead, it can be details that capture a prospective buyer’s imagination.

Such might be the case of a three-bedroom, two-bath condo on Riverside Drive in the low 90s.

The 2,600-sf corner unit has superlative views of the Hudson River through oversize windows from most rooms, including the improbably large kitchen, an exceptional amount of floor-to-ceiling mahogany woodwork and numerous other original features.

What first got me was Continue reading

Don’t sign contract without financing contingency

Weekly Roundups will resume starting April 5

Lawyers start with a boiler-plate contracts, but the terms they add provide essential protections.

Lawyers start with boiler-plate contracts, and the terms that they add are intended to provide essential protections.

In this nascent world of restrictive credit standards, anyone buying a new home needs to expect the expected.

When it comes not only to getting mortgage approval but also to getting promised funds, buyers can count on roadblocks that could delay or even prevent settlement.

That is why it is essential for their attorneys to include appropriate financing contingency clauses in the contracts.  Those clauses allow buyers to have their deposits returned in the event that lenders don’t finally provide the money to close.

Considering that the usual deposit of 10 percent of the purchase price — $40,000 on just the $400,000 purchase of a studio apartment — is a substantial sum, contingency clauses are not to be taken lightly.

Notes Forest Hills lawyer Ryan J. Walsh, whose explanation I’ll paraphrase liberally below, there are three major contingencies that can protect a buyer: Continue reading

Boy Scouts have right idea for showing property

Larry Agranoff was bitten by a dog when showing a house one day, and he had to have emergency surgery.

According to a post published by the Larry and Sheila real estate team, who cover Long Island’s North Shore, there were 11 other mishaps involving showings by them alone.  In their words, verbatim, they included the following:

Continue reading

Queens properties fetch $3 million in city auction

29-25 Ericcson St., East Elmhurst, went for $510,000 on Wednesday.

At Wednesday’s auction by Queens Public Adminstrator Linda M. Rosenblatt, successful bids on 10 properties totaled $2.957 million.  Three other properties were withdrawn prior to the estate sale.

Here are the results: Continue reading

Appraiser values below-grade space as amenity

Apartment at grade on Upper West Side is typical of units in other buildings.

Apartment at grade on Upper West Side is typical of units in other buildings.

One of the hardest components when trying to price an apartment going on the market is space at ground level or below it.

Jonathan Miller, the inimitable CEO of the Miller Samuel appraisal firm, has published a blog post that makes the challenging task understandable.

Inside of the same co-op shown at right.

Inside view of the same co-op at front of the building in photo at left.

He writes convincingly about the definition of spaces ranging from “at grade” (ground level) to “sub-cellar” (below the cellar, which itself is below the basement) and approaches for considering square footage as well as value.  Continue reading

There are sellers who can’t handle the pressure

(flickr photo by massdistraction)

The pressure on buyers making an offer or waiting for a seller’s response often can cause them to lose sleep.

What they may well forget is how intense the pressure can be on a seller as well, whether hoping for a good offer or deciding on accepting one that already has been made.

A recent experience underscored the point, which centered on Continue reading