Property tax group sues NYC and NY State

An acting Manhattan Supreme Court, Justice Gerald Lebovits denied NYC and New York State’s Governments motion to dismiss a lawsuit by group of renters and property owners called Tax Equity Now NY.

The group filed the lawsuit in April 2017, alleging that New York City’s property-tax system discriminates against low-income homeowners and landlords. The organization includes the Rent Stabilization Association, prominent landlords and social welfare groups such as the NAACP and the Black Institute.

Justice Gerald Lebovits denied the de Blasio administration’s motion to dismiss, but left the State off the hook, finding the group has standing to bring the suit against the City.

They claimed it violated the equal protection clause, Fair Housing Act, and state property tax laws.

The group is being allowed to move forward with all 16 of their claims against the city, including that its property tax system violates the FHA because it disproportionately affects minority neighborhoods and perpetuates racial discrimination in housing.

In the suit, filed in 2017, Tax Equity NY argues the property tax system tends to undervalue condominiums and cooperatives compared with rental apartments, causing more financial hardship for renters in the form of higher property taxes for landlords that are passed along to the tenants.

In a press release, Martha Stark, director of policy for Tax Equity Now wrote “We filed our suit because the current system unfairly burdens homeowners in lower-income and minority communities, primarily in the outer boroughs.”



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Shopping for a new home can be complicated and stressful. Frequently, over the last 30 years, working as a real estate attorney, people have asked me:  “Hey, Jeff, where do I  start?”

The first question I ask is,  How much can you afford to spend? This is a two-part question:  How much cash do you have available for a down payment and how much of your income can you afford for a monthly house payment.

That payment will generally include the mortgage payment plus taxes and insurance payments.   The answer will obviously depend on what your other monthly expenses and obligations may be.

My first piece of advice is to begin by gathering as much relevant information, beginning with determining the cost of borrowing. That is why I recommend you begin by talking to a mortgage broker.  He/she can look at your income level, current expenses and give you a good idea of how large a mortgage you can comfortably handle.  That is why I suggest you call an independent mortgage broker.  One broker I highly recommend is Scott Lanoff. I have known Scott for over twenty (20) years.  He is honest, smart and his consultation is free.  Give Scott 20 minutes and he will be able to tell you how much house you can afford and what the monthly cost will be.  Check out his website at

If you have any further questions, call me  (212) 693-3737, Jeff Weinstein.

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“Property Brothers” stars endured debt and bankruptcy

In a new memoir by twin brothers, Johnathan and Drew Scott, who star in the HGTV show  “Property Brothers,” they tell of the hard road they had to drive before they landed their popular TV show.

Johnathan was an aspiring magician until his supplies and equipment were stolen and he wound up declaring bankruptcy. His real estate broker brother Drew wound up $100,000 in debt trying to become an actor.

Drew was taking acting classes in Vancouver and as he told People Magazine

We had been doing real estate for some time, but I missed my passion, acting…I went to Vancouver to pursue that, and I was taking acting courses, networking and doing all the things I had to do to make sure that I was being seen. “In the end, that experience was really important because it created the buzz for our first auditions,” he says, “which got us on TV and made it worth it.”

The two say their book is brutally honest and nothing is left out, the the good and the bad are included. The memoir, “It Takes Two: Our Story,” will be released on Sept. 5th and will be accompanied by a book launch in Engelwood, N.J.

The brothers are now two of HGTV’s biggest stars. On their show, Property Brothers,  they help people buy and renovate houses that need work, while working within their clients’ budgets.

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Is Haunted House A “Defect” Under The Property Disclosure Law

Under the New York Property Condition Disclosure Act (PCDA) (N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 460-467), a seller of real property must disclose any hidden defects relating to that property to the buyer. Failure to inform the buyer about such latent material defects could result in unlimited post-closing liability upon the seller, even if the seller was unaware of those defects.

For example, if after the sale, the buyer finds leaks in the piping, which the seller had not revealed, then the seller would be held liable to cure that defect. Due to this onerous provision in the law, a seller may ‘opt-out’ of the disclosure requirement by agreeing to pay the buyer a one-time waiver fee of $500.

Over the years, people have been trying the expand the scope of the term ‘material defects’. In Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254 (SC New York 1991) the court dealt with the question of duty to disclose that a house was haunted. The buyers claimed a ‘haunted house’ was a material defect and sued for damages.

The court stated that a buyer may not pursue a legal remedy for fraudulent misrepresentation against the seller on the grounds that the premises is haunted. New York law fails to recognize the calculus for placing a value on ‘haunted houses.’ Any remedy for damages incurred as a result of the seller’s mere silence was denied.

However, the court held that reports of hauntings had lowered the resale value of the house, and held that while caveat emptor prevented an action for monetary liability, it did not prevent the equitable remedy of recission.

To conclude, New York law does not recognize a haunted house as a material defect upon the property. But the courts left the squeaking door open, to allow a rescission of the contract because the house was haunted, as a remedy in equity.

If you you have any queries relating to real estate planning, please contact the office of Jeffrey Weinstein at 212-693-3737.

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You may think the answer is obvious. But the correct answer is
“It depends.” It depends on the year purchased. If the co-op
apartment was purchased by a married couple before 1986,
the law MAY treat the property as personal.

Subsequent to 1996 the law was revised to treat co-ops as
real property with respect to co-op apartments.

This means that prior to 1996, there was no presumption that
a co-op purchased by married couples was jointly held as
tenants-by-the-entirety. If the stock and lease does not
specifically state that the property is being held as joint
tenants with the right of survivorship, it is deem to be
separate property, just like any other personal property.

How does this become an estate issue?

If the co-op was acquired before 1996, and the stock was not
subsequently reissued to the married couple, the decadents
interest in the property does not automatically transfer to
the surviving spouse. If it was the parties intention to
convey the decedent’s share of the co-op to the surviving
spouse, this must be:
(1) stated in the Will, (2) change the stock certificate
to read: Joint tenants with the right of survivorship.
For your protection and to avoid surprises
give me a call at 212 693-3737 or call your estate planner.

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