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New Rulings On Tenants Of Sponsor - N.Y. Times

Posted by Mark Smith on May 31, 1999 at 02:44:18:

From The New York Times, Real Estate, May 30, 1999. Please note that other sources indicate that the Paikoff case has been settled and the decision is no longer being appealed.

New Rulings On Tenants Of Sponsor
by Jay Romano

Two subjects previously addressed in this column one that affects many rental tenants in New York City co-op and condominium buildings and another that will change the way buyers and sellers of real estate in Westchester County do business with one another and their brokers are now in need of updating.

The first has been affected by two recent Housing Court cases that are at odds with a controversial 1998 ruling by Judge Marc Finkelstein in an eviction case in Housing Court in Brooklyn known as Paikoff v. Harris.

The 1998 case involved an eviction proceeding against a rental tenant in a six-unit co-op in Park Slope. The tenant, who rented his apartment from the co-op's sponsor nearly five years after the conversion had taken place, contested the sponsor's decision to decline to renew his lease after it expired.

The tenant argued that he was covered by the Martin Act a section of the state's General Business Law that protects nonpurchasing tenants in co-op or condominium conversions from eviction except for cause.

Since the Martin Act was widely believed to apply only to tenants who occupied their apartments at the time of conversion, lawyers for co-ops and condominiums were stunned when Judge Finkelstein extended Martin Act protection to the tenant even though the rental occurred long after the conversion.

Arthur I. Weinstein, a Manhattan co-op and condominium lawyer, said at the time that the implications of the decision could be "enormous" and that it could render "thousands of apartments in hundreds of buildings virtually unsalable" by giving protected status to tenants who rented from sponsors subsequent to conversion.

Joel E. Miller, a Queens lawyer who specializes in co-ops and condominiums, said t

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