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New York Real Estate Law Blog

Who is responsible for repairs needed on a commercial rental?

In residential real estate law, issues regarding repairs and maintenance to the property are relatively simple and straightforward. For the vast majority of cases, the landlord is responsible for all major maintenance and repairs. Typically, there is a requirement that the tenant inform the landlord of necessary work in a timely manner.

Tenants may have to pay for maintenance or repairs if they are responsible for any of the damage. However, barring damage that results from negligence regarding reporting on the behalf of the tenant or abuse of the premises by a tenant, the landlord will be the one paying for issues that arise.

What should you look for when investing in an apartment building?

Apartment buildings, or "multifamily units," are often great investment opportunities for people looking to get into the commercial real estate market.

They can also be real duds. Residents in today's market are highly demanding, and they know what they want. Before you throw your hard-earned money into a real estate venture involving an apartment building, take a good look at what the place has to offer potential tenants.

Good fences and good neighbors: How to avoid a fight over a fence

The proverb "Good fences make good neighbors" is often true -- and a fence that's badly in need of repairs or an eyesore can spark some ugly disputes between otherwise reasonable neighbors. That's especially possible when a fence is parked right on a boundary line.

When a fence sits right on a boundary line between your property and a neighbor's, New York law is actually a little unclear about who is responsible.

The difference between warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds

The deed to a piece of property is a fairly simple piece of paper -- but it's very important. It's what's actually used to convey ownership of a piece of property from one person to another.

The most common type of deed that is used for this process is called a warranty deed. It's often used when property is being bought and sold.

How do you find that below-market real estate investment gem?

Commercial real estate investments can be a great way to grow your wealth over time. However, finding the right investment property can be tricky, especially when the market is good for sellers.

However, there are some methods you can use to find those below-market investment properties out there:

  1. Use the tools on real estate sites. Trulia and Zillow, for example, will send you alerts when a property goes on the market with the characteristics you are seeking.
  2. Investigate "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO) properties. Usually, these owners are hoping for a quick sale, so they might be open to negotiations that favor you.
  3. Search for specific keywords. A property in prime condition is going to go for a prime rate. Look for words like "investor special" and "needs work" to find properties that need a little help to realize their potential.
  4. Get on social media. Facebook and other social sites have investor groups in many different areas of the country. You can often find someone looking to unload a property or two.
  5. Look at online auctions. Online auctions are also a great place to learn more about a market. Just watching how a market is going and what bidding is like can often tell you a great deal.
  6. Consider foreclosure and pre-foreclosure sales. Even in good economic times, a property owner can run into financial trouble and leave you with an open opportunity.

Did a former business partner steal your ideas or customers?

In some ways, a business partnership is much like a romantic relationship. People tend to idealize others prior to entering into a business relationship. They may experience admiration, jealousy or any other of a number of emotions related to their new business partner.

Over time, as with a romance, reality sets in and overpowers the idealized image. You may begin to argue, or you may even realize that you have conflicting concepts for what you want from the business. Dissolving a partnership is never easy, but as in marriage, it is often necessary to end a formal business relationship.

Skipping the permit for renovations: Why it's a problem

Why should you have to get a permit to do renovations on your own home?

That's the reaction a lot of homeowners have when they find out they need a permit to remodel some part of their residence. Many homeowners will skip the permit, if they can for a number of reasons:

  • Permits are expensive. Anything you can do to eliminate a few costs when you're remodeling starts to look like an attractive option.
  • City codes can be annoying (and costly) to meet. Getting a permit can open a Pandora's Box of problems.
  • Permits can be difficult to obtain. You have to apply for one and wait for an approval. That may or may not require an inspection that will slow up your whole project.
  • The city will know you are making improvements. That could add to your house taxes in the future. Keeping renovations out of sight is one way to avoid letting the city know they need to reassess your property's value.

Can you back out of a house deal?

What happens when the "house of your dreams" suddenly seems like a nightmare proposition, and you just want to back out of the deal you made to buy it?

Maybe you found out something about the neighbors after you made your offer that causes you to cringe. Maybe you suddenly got a great job offer in another state. Whatever the reason, getting out of a house deal is often a lot more possible than most people realize.

Do you need an exclusive use clause in your commercial lease?

Owning a business can be tremendously rewarding -- and stressful. No matter how good your products or services are, there are a lot of different factors that can affect the health of your business in negative ways. You constantly have to look ahead and anticipate problems so that you can try to prevent them.

That's where exclusive use clauses in commercial leases come in. They're specifically designed in anticipation of potential problems that you may have not with your landlord -- but other tenants.

What happens when an apartment building 'goes condo?'

If you live in a rental unit in an urban area that's gentrifying, you may have heard of other buildings "going condo," after new management gets involved, much to the dismay of existing tenants.

It's important to understand the process that turns an apartment building into condominiums and renters into potential owners before it happens -- in case it happens to you. There's a series of steps that have to be followed:

  • The developer submits what is known as the "red herring" to the attorney general's office. This is the developer's detailed plans for the building.
  • The attorney general's office will hold onto the plans for four months to give interested parties time to review the red herring.
  • The attorney general's office will go through the red herring with a fine-tooth comb and hammer out any kinks in the plans with the developer.
  • The revised plans, known as the "black book," will be submitted for filing.

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