The Daily Dirt: Would good cause eviction apply to condos and co-ops?

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

TRD NEW YORK /
Feb.February 27, 2020 03:50 PM
From left: Alvin Schein, Julia Salazar, and Margery Weinstein

From left: Alvin Schein, Julia Salazar, and Margery Weinstein

In case landlords weren’t already worried about good cause eviction, attorneys are now sounding the alarm on its potential impact on condos and co-ops.

Real estate attorneys are concerned that the bill — which bars eviction of tenants due to “unreasonable rent increases” — doesn’t exempt condos and co-ops.

Seiden & Schein’s Alvin Schein said this would effectively “wipe out” these type of rentals because owners and condo and co-op boards do not want to risk being stuck with “permanent tenants.” He noted that the measure would also deter prospective condo buyers.

“Developers who are selling their condos now would be in serious trouble because the value of their assets would drop” if the bill became law, Schein said.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Julia Salazar, said condos and co-ops are not covered by good cause. She noted that condos are “by definition individually owned and occupied by the owners” and co-ops are collectively owned. She also pointed to language in the bill that excludes instances where a “sublessor seeks in good faith to recover possession of such housing accommodation for his or her own personal use and occupancy.”

But real estate attorneys aren’t comforted by anything other than an explicit exemption.

“There is no carve-out unless the bill says there’s a carve-out,” said Margery Weinstein, a partner at Ganfer Shore Leeds & Zauderer who focuses on condo and co-op deals.

Their concern that a bill will have unintended consequences is perhaps understandable. The brokerage world was recently blindsided by the Department of State’s interpretation of the new rent law to mean that tenants no longer have to pay fees for rental brokers hired by landlords. Since the passage of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, state officials have also mulled potential changes. Late last year, Queens legislators proposed a bill to ensure that its provisions do not apply to proprietary leases, which buyers sign after acquiring shares in a co-op building.

Ilan Bracha has sold his struggling Keller Williams NYC.

Bracha and his business partner, Haim Binstock, transferred ownership of the brokerage to Austin-based Keller Williams Realty International, which then awarded the company to Richard Amato, E.B. Solomont reports.

Amato, who already owns several other Keller Williams offices in Nassau County, plans to merge Keller Williams’ two Manhattan outposts, in Midtown and Tribeca, which were run as separate businesses. The consolidated entity, Keller Williams New York City, will be run by Mark Chin, who was CEO of Keller Williams Tribeca.

“We’re unifying all of the Manhattan brokerage under this new brand,” Chin said. “Even StreetEasy couldn’t tell the difference between us.”

After launching in 2011, KWNYC grew quickly, eventually reaching 900 agents. But a slowdown in the residential market hit in 2018 and the brokerage cycled through leaders who jumped to other firms. In August, the firm also moved to a smaller office, leaving its Midtown space for a WeWork location at 575 Fifth Avenue. The move was followed by a lawsuit filed by Dow Jones against Keller Williams Midtown, seeking $2.36 million in unpaid rent and damages.

What we’re thinking about: What will the Olnick Organization decide to do with its Lenox Terrace project? Send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Wednesday was for a condo at 53 West 53rd Street in Midtown, at $11 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing was for a self-storage building at 5002 Second Avenue in Sunset Park, at $48.8 million.

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was for a 96,502-square-foot residential building at 1740 Andrews Avenue in Morris Heights. Volunteers of America filed the permit application.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 525 Park Avenue in Lenox Hill, at $16.5 million. Berkshire Hathaway’s A. Laurance Kaiser IV has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

Bill de Blasio legally changed his name not once, but twice! Born Warren Wilhelm, Jr., the mayor first changed his last name to his mother’s maiden name, de Blasio. Before running for City Council, he dropped Warren and became Bill. This has come up periodically (you may recall mayoral hopeful Bo Dietl had a thing or two to say about the name change). Thank you to Jerome Dineen for reminding us of this piece of political history.

Elsewhere in New York

— A 64-year-old man was pushed onto the subway tracks at Union Square by a stranger who he had asked to quiet down, the New York Post reports. The man who was pushed suffered a cut to the hand but was safely brought back up to the platform.

— First lady Chirlane McCray is mulling a run for Brooklyn borough president, Politico New York reports. “The truth is I have not announced that I’m running for Brooklyn borough president. I am thinking about it,” she said in an interview on PIX 11.

— The F train tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn will shut down on nights and weekends next year for up to $100 million in repairs, the City reports. The tunnel is the last of nine Sandy-damaged subway tunnels to be renovated.


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