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News / 02.25.20 /Jacob E. Amir

Buyer deemed not “able” to purchase where seller fails to obtain short sale approval from seller’s bank

Buyers seeking to enforce their contractual rights by an action for “specific performance” to compel the sale of real property have to demonstrate that they are “ready, willing and able” to acquire the property. Apparently, the determination whether a buyer is “able” to complete the purchase does not refer simply to the buyer’s capabilities, but …

News / 02.25.20 /Jacob E. Amir

Tort and contract claims against Coop Board Member survive pre-answer dismissal motion

Members of a cooperative’s board of directors enjoy the protections of both the corporate shield and the business judgment rule, such that they may not be held personally liable for property damage or personal injury when a claim is made in connection with actions taken by directors in their official capacity as board members. But …

News / 01.21.20 /Jacob E. Amir

In Leasing or Purchasing Real Estate from a Not-for-Profit, the Purchase Money Mortgage is Probably Not an Option

As a New York Times article from last October[1] described, religious institutions strapped for operating funds or wishing to utilize their real property as investment vehicles can enter into sales or long-term lease agreements with developers. However, New York State Religious Corporation Law requires religious institutions to obtain judicial and/or New York State Attorney General …

News / 11.15.19 /Jacob E. Amir

Criminality for Corporate Lien Law Diversion

Lien Law Section 79 criminalizes the diversion of trust funds from the purpose created by the trust. In layman’s terms, that basically means that a contractor who receives payments from a property owner for a project must use the payments for the purposes intended under the project (e.g., labor, subcontractors, vendors, etc.). Diverting those funds …

News / 10.17.19 /Jacob E. Amir

Contractors may have at least one way to sue members of limited liability companies personally for renovation work provided to the LLC

Members of New York State limited liability companies often form their entities with two thoughts in mind: an LLC provides favorable tax structuring and protection from personal liability. To the joy of contractors and chagrin of LLC members, that protection may not shield LLC members from claims of unjust enrichment, as a recent case in …

News / 08.22.19 /Jacob E. Amir

Subcontractors, Prevailing Wages and the Construction Fair Play Act

Jacob Amir contributed an article in Cornerstone, the semi-annual publication of the Associated General Contractors, New York State, a leading trade association representing contractors and related companies in the building and highway construction industry.

News / 11.28.18 /Jacob E. Amir

Don’t rely strictly on a title report for disclosure of recorded zoning declarations affecting real property

A recent decision from the Suffolk County Supreme Court reiterated that zoning ordinances are not “defects” in title covered under policies of title insurance. Purchasers and developers are reminded to do their own due diligence, and go beyond the title report, to understand what existing and recorded zoning limitations might affect their prospective property interest.

News / 08.06.18 /Jacob E. Amir

Defining “Substantial Completion” for Lien Law and Contract Purposes

Jacob Amir contributed an article in Cornerstone, the semi-annual publication of the Associated General Contractors, New York State, a leading trade association representing contractors and related companies in the building and highway construction industry. Jacob’s article addresses the importance of defining “substantial completion” for purposes of Lien Law and general contract claims brought on behalf of contractors.

News / 07.18.18 /Jacob E. Amir

Expiration of tenant’s license issued under the New York Conservation Law permits owner to remove tenant for engaging in “illegal activity” under the Real Property Law

Lease agreements typically contain a provision whereby the agreement is deemed breached and the tenant may be evicted for engaging in “illegal activities.” Eviction based upon an illegal activity is also codified in New York Real Property Law § 231(1), which sets forth that a lease agreement becomes void where an occupant or lessee uses a premises for any “illegal trade, manufacture or other business”, thereupon permitting the owner to seek an eviction.

News / 05.16.18 /Jacob E. Amir

Tenant deemed successful party in landlord’s “action to recover possession” seeking to reform lease to exclude tenant’s use of backyard of demised premises

Standard lease agreements include a provision that the successful party is entitled to recover attorneys’ fees and costs incurred on any action or proceeding brought for non-payment of rent or recovery of possession of the subject premises. Where the contract limits the attorneys’ fees provision for the benefit of the landlord (e.g., that landlord is entitled to recover), the law gives the tenant a reciprocal right to recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs if the tenant is successful in the action.

News / 04.19.18 /Jacob E. Amir

Court Rules that Non-Participating Brokers Do Not Owe a Fiduciary Duty to a Brokerage Firm’s Client

It is well-established that real estate brokers owe a fiduciary duty of loyalty and to act in the best interest of their clients. Where the brokerage firm is comprised of several brokers, the client may naturally assume that both the listing broker, and the firm at large, will work in the best interest of the client’s needs and desires. A recent decision from the Westchester County Supreme Court warns clients against making this assumption.

News / 02.16.18 /Jacob E. Amir

Attorney’s fees, an offer for liquidated damages and the “prevailing party” under a commercial lease dispute

Lease agreements may contain an attorneys’ fee provision whereby the “prevailing party” is entitled to recover attorney’s fees. When owner and tenant settle their disputes before trial, that provision is waived or factored into the terms of settlement. Additionally, the civil rules allow a defendant to offer a liquidated amount as damages in the event plaintiff prevails on liability (i.e., all plaintiff has to do is prove liability). If plaintiff rejects the offer and recovers an amount less than what defendant offered, the defendant is entitled to recover attorney’s fees for the damages portion of trial.