Real Cases in Real Estate by Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – July 25th, 2011 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate by Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – July 25th, 2011 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate is a weekly update on real estate law, with legal principles illustrated and explained by lawsuits from around the country. The topics are wide-ranging for appeal to a broad spectrum of readers including lawyers, homeowners, investors and the general public. Andrea Lee Negroni, a Washington DC attorney and legal writer with 25 years of experience in financial services and mortgage law, contributes the case summaries.

Followers of Real Cases in Real Estate will learn and be entertained by lawsuits involving nuisance, trespass, zoning violations, deed restrictions, title insurance, public utilities, mechanics liens, construction defects, adverse possession, foreclosure and eviction, divorce and marital property rights, tenants' rights, and more. Real Cases in Real Estate uncovers the unpredictable, amusing, and sometimes outrageous disputes between next-door neighbors, contractors and homeowners, condo boards and residents, real estate brokers and homebuyers, and zoning administrators and developers.

Each fully cited case summary highlights the essential law of the case and explains the principal legal theories and concepts relevant to the outcome. Plain language treatment makes Real Cases in Real Estate accessible to lawyers and laymen alike.

Whether you follow real estate law professionally or as a hobby, you'll find something new and useful every week in Real Cases in Real Estate.

Updates for the Week of July 25th, 2011

New York Apartment Manager is Not Liable to Tenant for Damage to Personal Property Resulting From Bedbug Infestation.

James Joseph sued the managing agent of his apartment building in a New York small claims court, claiming he lost $5,000 worth of personal property as the result of an infestation of bedbugs in his apartment. The court awarded Joseph $3,342 in damages; the manager appealed.

The Supreme Court reversed the award, because "in an action based on a landlord's breach of the implied warranty of habitability, consequential damages, such as for property damage, are not recoverable" in New York. Moreover, the tenant sued the manager, not the building owner.

The New York Multiple Dwelling Law requires the owner of a multiple dwelling to keep the lot, roofs, yards, courts, passages, and alleys free from vermin, dirt, filth, garbage, and any "other thing or matter dangerous to life or health." While the court does not discuss whether bedbugs are dangerous to life or health, most people would agree they are "vermin." However, the interior of an apartment doesn't easily fit into the definition of "lot, roofs, yards, courts, passages and alleys." 

The appellate court found that the tenant had not provided enough evidence that the manager failed to act with diligence after his complaints about the bedbugs, and reversed the award to the tenant with instructions to dismiss the case.

Joseph v. Apartment Mgt. Assoc., LLC, 2011 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 836 (N.Y. App. Term 2011) [enhanced version available to subscribers]

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