Real Estate Law
New York Real Estate Litigation Attorneys
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- Construction Litigation: It is best to seek the advice of an attorney before signing a large construction contract, but many clients wait to retain counsel until litigation is imminent. In such cases, it helps to engage a lawyer before a contract is terminated to put your position in writing and ensure you comply with the contract's provisions. Where possible, an effort should be made to settle the dispute on reasonable terms. If the adversary is not willing to be reasonable, you need a lawyer willing to litigate the case all the way to trial if necessary. By retaining a law firm with extensive experience in construction litigation, you maximize the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome through settlement or litigation.
- Real Estate Sales Contract Disputes: There is a great period of uncertainty in each real estate sales contract between contract signing and closing. There are typically numerous conditions that need to be fulfilled, and contingencies that may allow the real estate purchaser to rescind the contract and obtain a refund of the deposit. A buyer or seller will often seek to avoid the contract based on alleged misrepresentations, non-fulfillment of conditions or other factors. Our real estate attorneys can defend you in litigation or compel enforcement of your rights under the contract.
- Commercial Leases: The firm's attorneys are experienced in drafting and negotiating commercial leases, and litigating disputes that arise under commercial leases. Most commercial leases in New York City are based on a form promulgated by the Real Estate Board of New York, supplemented by a rider with deal-specific provisions. From the lessee's perspective, a good commercial lease should have a sufficient duration to recoup your investment, and a "good guy clause" to ensure that if your business cannot meet its financial obligations, you can surrender possession without incurring personal liability.
- Mortgage and Lien foreclosures: The firm's attorneys can bring foreclosure actions against real estate that is encumbered by mechanic's liens, tax liens, mortgages and judgments. Mortgage foreclosures in New York are governed by New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Art. 13. Lien Foreclosures are governed by New York Lien Law Article 3. Filing a lien or recording a mortgage is just the first step, and is often not enough to secure payment. Our lawyers can bring an action to foreclose upon a mechanic's lien or mortgage and force the sale of the property if the owner fails to issue payment.
- Vacating Mechanic's Liens: The New York Lien Law provides a number of mechanisms to vacate a mechanic's lien. If you have a bonding line with a surety, the easiest way to discharge a mechanic's lien is to file a lien discharge bond pursuant to Lien Law 19(4). If you do not have a bonding line, you can deposit money into court pursuant to Lien Law 20. In either case, if the lien holder fails to commence a lien foreclosure action, the lien will expire and litigation will be unnecessary. To expedite the process, you can serve the lienor with a demand to foreclose pursuant to Lien Law 59. If the lienor then fails to commence an action within 30 days, the lien will be vacated. Finally, you can move to summarily discharge a mechanic's lien pursuant to Lien Law 19(6) if the lien is defective on its face.
- Insurance Coverage Litigation: Most lawsuits commenced against owners of real estate are covered by general liability insurance. However, insurers often disclaim coverage based on late notice of claim and exclusions in insurance policies. In such cases, our attorneys can commence declaratory judgment actions to resolve insurance coverage disputes and compel defense and indemnification under the insurance policy. Even if the insurer may not be liable for the underlying claim, insurers have a broad duty to defend you that goes beyond the duty to indemnify. While the dispute over insurance coverage is pending, we can defend you from the underlying claim and assert claims against other parties that may be liable.
- Warranties and Construction Defects: Real estate sales contracts and construction contracts in New York frequently include warranties. New York Real Property Law § 462 also imposes obligations on sellers of real estate to make certain disclosures. However, once the seller or contractor has been paid, it can be hard to enforce a warranty without litigation. Particularly with condominium developments, the sponsor often disappears after the last unit is sold and enforcement of contract rights may require litigation. Where warranties are breached or construction defects are concealed, our attorneys can compel the breaching party to honor warranties and correct defects through litigation or the threat of litigation.
- Access to Adjoining Property: In New York, it is common for contractors to need access to adjoining properties to make necessary improvements and repairs, such as underpinning of foundations and installation of temporary scaffolding. This is typically done by securing the neighbor's permission and negotiating a license to access their property. However, where adjacent property owners are unwilling to grant a license, New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law § 881 provides a summary proceeding whereby the contractor can obtain a court-ordered license to access adjoining property.
- Actions for Partition: Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Art. 9 provides that one who holds an interest in real property as a tenant in common may bring an action against other tenants in common for the partition or sale of the property. A person seeking a court ordered sale without the consent of co-owners must prove that a physical partition would be impractical. The feasibility of partition generally depends upon the dimensions and zoning of the property. The partition of real estate in New York can be complicated, and requires the assistance of an experienced real estate lawyer.
- Arbitration and Mediation: In New York, arbitration and mediation clauses are commonly found in construction contracts, sales contracts and commercial leases. Arbitration is faster and more predictable than litigation, but can involve substantial upfront costs. These costs are typically paid by the claimant initially, subject to possible shifting in the arbitration award. Our attorneys have experience representing litigants in arbitration, compelling arbitration and enforcing arbitration awards.