REAL ESTATE LITIGATION

Ready To Take Swift Action 

 

The Wenig Saltiel team has extensive experience representing owners of real property, contractors, Receivers and 7A Administrators in a wide range of real estate related litigation.

 

Common litigation areas include:

Mechanic’s Liens – Contractors and Property Owners

This area of law is very complex. It is crucial for contractors or homeowners who seek to enforce mechanic’s lien to consult an attorney who is experienced in this area. We can help you resolve:

  • Collections of unpaid for contractors.

  • Breach of construction or home improvement contracts.

  • Filing and enforcing mechanic's liens.

  • Discharge and cancellation of mechanic’s liens filed against homes.

Experienced contractors know that filing a mechanic’s lien can be a very effective way of collecting unpaid sums for materials and services rendered. However, the New York State Lien Law sets very strict timetables for the filing and enforcement of a mechanic’s lien. These timetables vary according to the type of property against which the mechanic’s lien is filed, and the failure to strictly abide by these timetables can be fatal for the effective use of a mechanic’s lien as an enforcement remedy.

It should be noted that Lien Law §39-a treats the willful exaggeration of sums owed on a mechanic’s lien very harshly.  Contractors who make the mistake of exaggerating the amounts owed on their mechanic’s lien may be liable for the following:

  • Money damages equal to that which the Court finds the mechanic’s lien to be willfully exaggerated.

  • Any premium for the purchase of a bond to discharge the lien during the course of the litigation.

  • Reasonable attorney’s fees.

Wenig Saltiel’s team of attorneys has the expertise to effectively assist with both enforcing and defending against mechanic’s liens.

DHCR Proceedings

New York State Homes and Community Renewal (more commonly known as DHCR) is a state agency responsible for administering the laws related to rent stabilized and rent controlled housing in New York. Wenig Saltiel LLP represents the interests of both landlords and tenants in relation to the laws administered by DHCR.

Wenig Saltiel’s team of attorneys has the expertise to deal with administrative proceedings including:

  • Challenges to the rent regulatory status of an apartment – i.e. whether or not a unit was properly deregulated or withdrawn from the rental market.

  • Complaints regarding rent overcharge claims and for the determination of the maximum legal regulated rent for a housing unit.

  • Owner/landlords’ petitions for rent increases based on a “Major Capital Improvement” (MCI) or an “Individual Apartment Improvement” (IAI).

  • Rent reductions based on tenants’ complaints for decreased essential services in their housing unit.

  • Complaints regarding the failure of a landlord or tenant to renew a rent stabilized tenancy as required by applicable law.

  • “Petitions for Administrative Reviews” (“PAR”) to challenge a decision or order of DHCR based on an error of law and/or fact.

  • Article 78 Proceedings to challenge DHCR decisions on a PAR.

  • Representing landlord or tenants in harassment proceedings claiming that the owner engaged in actions intended to force out tenant from a rent stabilized or rent controlled apartment.

HP Proceedings

Tenants or the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) may bring HP Proceedings in Landlord/Tenant Court against a landlord not only for poor living conditions but also for alleged instances of harassment. HPD is a party to these proceedings, and has the power to issue violations and fines to non-compliant landlords. These fines can easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars or more, and Housing Court can, and has, imprisoned landlords for failure to comply with orders to make repairs.

Significantly, the scope of activity that constitutes harassment in the landlord/tenant context has become increasingly expansive to include any act or omission by or on behalf of an owner that causes a person to vacate such dwelling unit or to surrender or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy including the following:

  • Using force or making threats that force will be used against a tenant.

  • Repeated interruptions or discontinuances of essential services.

  • Commencing repeated baseless or frivolous court proceedings against a tenant.

  • Removing the entrance door to an apartment or removing, plugging or otherwise rendering the lock on such entrance door inoperable; or changing the lock on such door without supplying a key to the new lock.

  • Contacting a tenant to offer money to induce such person to vacate an apartment or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy.

  • Threatening any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of an apartment based on such person's actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, caregiver status, uniformed service, sexual orientation, alienage or citizenship status, status as a victim of domestic violence, status as a victim of sex offenses or stalking, lawful source of income or because children are, may be or would be residing in such dwelling unit.

  • Requesting identifying documentation for any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of an apartment that would disclose the citizenship status of such person, when such person has provided the owner with a current form of government-issued personal identification.

Wenig Saltiel’s team of attorneys has broad experience defending landlords to minimize or eliminate their exposure to fines as well as advocating for tenants to ensure that repairs are expeditiously performed in the context of HP Proceedings.

Certificate of No Harassment (CONH)

A new law was enacted in 2018 intended to protect tenants from harassment when a landlord seeks a building permit for major work, including demolition and renovation. Before a landlord can obtain the building permit, the landlord must first obtain a Certificate of No Harassment (CONH) from DHPD that clearly exhibits that the landlord has not harassed tenants or former tenants. This new law now requires DHPD to process thousands of more applications than in prior years, causing a significant backlog of up to one year or more in obtaining the CONH. This delay translates into building owners not being able to obtain building permits for extended periods of time, which prevents them from timely performing work on the building, and often in situations where the Court has ordered repairs to be done within 30 or 90 days. Our clients look to our track record of unparalleled ingenuity in order to satisfy the seemingly impossible requirements of this new law.

SUCCESSES

 
 
 
 

Saving the apartments of over 20 tenants by establishing that their tenancies were subject to rent stabilization after being told they were not for more than 30 years.

Vacated a previous finding of DHCR which deregulated a rent controlled apartment which was occupied by the tenant for over 60 years.

Successfully overturned a Housing Court decision and evicted a rent stabilized tenant by establishing that a landlord could not have been deemed to have waived the protections of the Plumbing Code which prohibited the illegal connection of a washing machine. 

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