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New York Real Estate Law Explained by Experienced Attorneys

Real estate is the biggest investment many individuals make throughout the course of their life. Whether you are buying or selling a single family home, are renting a property, or are leasing a property, there is a significant amount of money involved in the transaction. Real estate transactions also typically involving signing your name to a legally binding contract that imposes both rights and obligations.

With money at stake and with strict laws enforcing real estate contracts, it is imperative that you have the right legal representative to help you with all of the transactions you enter into in connection with residential real estate in New York.  

Involving an attorney early in the process of a real estate transaction can help you to avoid pitfalls and problems that could be costly. And, if problems do arise, getting help from a real estate lawyer in New York who has litigation experience becomes absolutely imperative.

New York real estate lawyer

In New York, you’ll also need an attorney to close any real estate transaction you enter into that involves buying or selling property. An attorney will oversee and facilitate the closing process and the settlement, taking care of technical details including preparing paperwork, facilitating a title search, recording the title and deed that serves as the official record of ownership, and taking the steps necessary so a new owner can take possession of property.

Attorney Roman Kuzmin, Esq. can provide invaluable help with all of your real estate issues. When you need advice from an experienced NYC residential real estate lawyer who can help you to negotiate contracts, respond to disputes, close your real estate transaction or handle any other legal issues related to properties in the state of New York, we are the firm to turn to.

Give us a call today to find out more about the legal advice and assistance you can obtain from a compassionate and knowledgeable member of our legal team.

Real Estate Contracts in New York

Contracts involving real property in New York typically must be written agreements in order to provide protection to buyers, sellers, landlords, and renters.

Leases are governed by contractual agreements between tenants and landlords, while the terms of a sale of a property are governed by purchase and seller agreements. There are also laws in New York that help to establish the requirements and rights of parties to real estate transactions.

For example, there are laws related to seller disclosures when a property is sold and there are laws governing the obligations of landlords offering residential rental properties that mandate landlords follow a specific process for eviction before removing a tenant from a property.

When a contract is created between parties entering into a real estate transaction, that contract becomes legally binding for all those involved in the transaction. If the contract is breached, the non-breaching party can file a lawsuit for damages.

In some cases, specific performance is ordered, which means that the court orders the parties to comply with their contractual obligations. If a seller backed out of a home sale, for example, the court could order the seller to sell the home.

In most cases, monetary damages are the appropriate remedy when a contract is breached.

Because contracts are binding and enforceable, it is imperative that any party to a residential real estate contract ensure the agreement is sufficiently protective of his or her interests. Drafting a fair contract that protects your rights is a process that you should have the right help with from day one. A New York real estate attorney can help with this process.

While there are standard form contracts, such as standard lease agreements or purchase and sale agreement for residential real estate transactions, these contracts may not always be the best starting point for your particular transaction. You need to think carefully about what will form the basis of your contract, what clauses your contract will contain, and how you will ensure that your investment is protected by a contract.

As a residential real estate contract is created, many different clauses could be included in the agreement. A sale could be made contingent upon certain conditions being met, such as an inspection being passed or a buyer being able to close by a certain date. Agreements will need to be reached on a final purchase price, on exactly what rights will transfer in the sale, and on who will be responsible for which costs of closing. All of this needs to be negotiated before a contract is drafted or signed.

Once a contract has been prepared, it’s important to ensure the language is clear, the relevant legal issues are addressed, and the contract protects your interests. You should never sign a real estate contract that an attorney has not reviewed for you, whether you are buying, selling, or renting.

Attorney Roman Kuzmin can help with all of your residential real estate contract issues including:

  • Negotiating, drafting, and reviewing all types of real estate contracts
  • Negotiating, drafting, and reviewing purchase and sales agreements
  • Negotiating, drafting, an reviewing lease agreements
  • Breach of title cases

These are just some of the many issues our legal team can help with in connection with residential real estate law. If you will be entering into a real estate transaction of any type, don’t sign your name to any agreement or begin negotiations on any contract until you have reached out to a NYC real estate lawyer at our firm.

Real Estate Closings

Roman Kuzmin is also here and ready to help with real estate closings. Closings are the formal process in which settlement occurs; the buyer pays the seller for any outstanding costs that are due; closing costs are paid including transfer taxes and financing fees; and the new deed is prepared and recorded.

Closings typically take place in the office of an attorney and a lawyer plays an integral role in the process.

Entering a New York real estate closing

Attorneys can help to facilitate title searches to make sure there are no encumbrances on the property, which is essential to ensure no last minute liens were placed on the property that could become the responsibility of the buyer when the transaction has been completed.

Real estate counsel can also prepare closing paperwork, prepare the new title and deed, advise you on how to take ownership of the property, and record the deed with the municipality where the property is located.

You will need a lawyer to oversee this process and to make sure that all of the documents are correct, accurate, and filed in accordance with the law so there is an updated record of a property’s new owner.

Your Rights as a Buyer, Seller, Landlord, and Tenant

It is important to understand exactly how New York laws work to protect real estate owners and to ensure that piece of real estate has a clear owner.

Real estate ownership is tracked through deeds, which record who has title to a property. Whomever has title to a property owns a legal interest in that property.

As a result, when you buy a property, you take title to it. The change in ownership must be officially recorded in public record books, which keep a record of who the official owner of the property.

Each piece of property is actually a bundle of rights. When you purchase property, for example, you may get the right of ownership of the property but you may not always get exclusive rights to use the property. If there is an easement on the property allowing your neighbor to use the driveway, for example, you still own and can use the driveway but you cannot prevent your neighbor from also using the property as well.

An owner’s property rights may also not cover oil and gas that is found underneath the property, or there may be deed restrictions on the property that impose limitations upon what can be done with that particular piece of property. If a property is mortgaged, the bank holding the mortgage note also may have a lien on the property, which indicates that the bank has a possessory interest in the property along with the owner.

No owner can transfer more rights to the property than that owner has. If you own property with an easement on it and you sell the property, you cannot sell the property unencumbered – the easement must go along with the property and the new owner could not suddenly prevent a neighbor from using the driveway if an easement allows him to.

Because it is imperative that every property owner understand exactly what rights he or she has to the property, a title search is conducted when property is sold. If there are encumbrances on the title, such as liens or easements, then these issues should be found in the title search. The new owner can decide if he wants to take the bundle of ownership he is purchasing – along with the limitations.

Because problems can arise that can be quite costly or difficult to resolve, such as a tax lien on the property worth thousands of dollars or a question about how much of the land the owner currently owns, those who take title to a property want to ensure they are protected if claims on the property arise later. As a result, most property purchasers will typically buy title insurance – and mortgage lenders generally require this if a property owner is using a mortgage to buy a property.

The buyer will typically pay for title insurance, and then if an unexpected problem comes up, the insurer has to pay for losses. If it turns out there were liens on the property that were not discovered, for example, the insurer would have to pay for the costs associated with removing those liens if a property owner purchased title insurance.

A New York real estate lawyer can provide assistance in understanding the bundle of rights that you are buying when you purchase property. An attorney can help with:

  • Title examinations: This is a title search in which an assessment is made regarding whether the property comes with clean title or there are encumbrances on the title.
  • Title issues: When problems arise and unexpected claims are made on the property, an attorney can provide assistance.
  • Quiet title actions: If there are questions about whether a property has clean title or are there are encumbrances, a quiet title action may be necessary. This would involve requesting that a court clear up issues related to who is the official owner of the property and what bundle of rights that property owner has.
  • Legal issues related to easements and encroachments: Easements give someone else a legal interest in a property. If someone encroaches on the property and action is not taken, eventually that person could end up getting an easement over time.
  • Boundary disputes: There are often questions regarding where a property boundary is and who owns a given part of land.
  • Disputes regarding creeds, covenants, and restrictions (CC&Rs). When a property is part of a neighborhood association, or when there are deed restrictions on the property limiting the rights of owners, tension and conflict can arise. An experienced attorney can provide assistance when these disputes are resolved through mediation, arbitration, or litigation.

These are just some of the many different issues that an experienced attorney can help with in connection with enforcing and protecting your rights as the owner of residential real estate.

Co-Op and Condo Board Issues

Many condo and co-op buildings are sold in New York, and these create some additional legal issues. In condominium buildings, there are generally common areas which must be jointly maintained and managed by residents.

Both indoor and common areas can exist in condo buildings, and there must be policies in place to ensure that there are plans for how common areas will be managed and maintained.

Co-op in New York

Co-ops also present their own complexity as a result of the co-ownership structure and the necessity of joint decision-making and management among the different owners of units within the co-op building.

Because joint decisions must be made in condos and co-ops, typically a group of individuals must be put in charge of raising and addressing issues, and policies must be put in place regarding how common decisions will be made. Condo boards or co-op boards are usually used for the management of common spaces and the establishment of policies related to addressing issues affecting all condo or co-op owners.

A New York residential real estate lawyer can provide representation to condo boards and co-op boards who require assistance with a variety of legal issues including establishing bylaws and pursuing legal action against residents who fail to comply with legal obligations. An attorney can also represent condo or co-op owners who become involved in conflict with board members.

Problems in New York Real Estate Transactions

When individuals enter into real estate transactions and get legal help, hopefully the key legal issues can be addressed in advance so problems and conflicts do not arise. Unfortunately, conflicts do arise and can be costly and difficult to address.

Many different types of problems can arise in real estate transactions including:

Breach of contract

When any party fails to fulfill contractual obligations, a breach of contract occurs. The remedy will depend upon whether the breach was a material breach – which means it undermines the very purpose of the contract – or whether the breach was a non material breach. Different parties to a transaction may also desire different types of remedies, with some preferring a monetary remedy and others pursuing a court order that the transaction be completed.  An experienced attorney can provide help pursuing a breach of contract claim or defending against a claim that a contract has been breached.

Title issues

If disputes arise regarding who is the official owner of a property, what rights that owner has, and what encumbrances there are on property, a real estate attorney can provide assistance. A quiet title action could be brought to resolve the questions regarding who is the official owner and what his rights are. Court proceedings could also be initiated in order to prevent an encroachment through an injunction, or a petitioner could ask the court to require a property owner to allow access when there is an easement in place.

Resolving title issues is a high-stakes legal matter because questions about ownership rights can have a profound impact on property values. It is imperative that when a dispute over title arises, NY real estate lawyers be consulted for help.

Flooding and landslides

In recent years, major weather events have caused significant problems for homeowners. When flooding and landslides occur, questions can arise regarding who is liable for costs associated with repairs or costs associated with financial loss when a property is destroyed.

Legal issues may arise with respect to whether a seller property disclosed the risks to a purchaser.

Because flooding may not be covered by homeowners’ insurance, and there can be disputes regarding the specific cause of the damage, a conflict could also arise in connection with insurance coverage.

Questions about construction quality and safety could lead to conflict as well.

Our NYC real estate attorneys with experience handling claims related to flooding, landslides, and other disasters can provide the type of invaluable advice necessary to resolve legal issues when a home has been affected by a disaster.

Homeowners association & CC&R Disputes

Creeds, covenants and restrictions can impose significant obligations and limitations on property owners, which inevitably leads to conflict.

Many deed restrictions govern every aspect of what a home can look like, down to what type of landscaping a homeowner is required to plant and whether garage doors can be left open or boats stored in driveways. Many CC&R agreements also require property owners to pay association dues or fees, and allow penalties to be imposed of restrictions are violated or if fees are not paid on time.

CC&R dispute in NY

Under these circumstances when there are restrictive covenants in place, conflict can arise in connection to issues including whether a remodel will be permitted, whether a homeowner is allowed to build a tree house or display certain law ornaments, or whether a homeowner’s outdoor décor is in compliance with neighborhood rules and regulations. There have been lengthy court cases over flags that were too large, lawn ornaments that caused conflict, and a wide variety of other issues.

Property owners need to ensure they understand their rights and have the proper representation when a conflict arises with a neighborhood association. Associations also need assistance if they wish to pursue legal action as a result of violations.

Boundary disputes

Conflicts can sometimes arise regarding who owns a particular area of land.

While a survey should be conducted before a property is sold to establish property boundaries, big problems can arise when land is sold for the first time in a long time and there are limited records associated with exactly what the boundaries are.

If a neighbor has encroached on a boundary decades ago and has made improvements to the land, this can also lead to conflict if the neighbor claims that he now has an easement and a right to access that plot of land.

Boundary disputes arise frequently when one neighbor considers fence construction or when it comes time for a home to build – but such disputes can happen any time and those involved in them should have a dedicated and experienced attorney providing representation.

Disputes over trees

Trees tend to have roots and branches that can cross from one property to another. This can create conflict over who is responsible for any damage that a tree causes to a property. Conflict can also arise regarding who is responsible for maintaining a tree or who is responsible for removing a tree that has begun to cause problems with properties.

When these disputes occur, a lot of money can be involved.

Trees can cause foundation damage to a home which costs thousands of dollars to fix. Removal of a tree can also cost thousands of dollars. Any neighbors who become involved with a tree dispute should ensure that they have the proper legal help to protect their interest. If an injury has occurred in connection with a tree, or if property damage has occurred because of a tree, seeking legal help can become especially important.

Getting Help from a Residential Real Estate Lawyer in New York

If you experience any issues with property – or if you want to avoid issues with property – it is important you get the right legal advice.

A real estate attorney in NYC can help you to ensure that transactions go smoothly so you can benefit from your real estate investment and avoid serious financial loss.

Attorney Roman Kuzmin, Esq. is a skilled negotiator with experience representing buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants in contract negotiations and other aspects of real estate transactions. He can also prepare closing paperwork and facilitate the real estate closing process.

An attorney can also provide help when there are problems with a real estate transaction or disputes over a piece of real estate that is owned. You need to aggressively fight for your property rights and ensure that you are using every available legal tool to protect your interest in any property that you own or rent. Our firm is here to offer dedicated and knowledgeable advocacy.

To find out more about the assistance we can offer and to get personalized one-on-one assistance with any real estate law issues, give us a call today.


© 2012 Daniel Kron, Esq., all rights reserved


New York commercial litigator Daniel Kron, Esq - logo

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