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New York City Real Estate Law Blog

What type of real estate disputes are most common?

When buying or selling real estate, you hope that you never run into a serious dispute. The same holds true if you're in the position of a landlord or tenant.

Unfortunately, especially in and around cities like New York City, this is not always the case. Instead, real estate transactions go bad from time to time. If this happens, you need to better understand your situation and the steps you can take to find a resolution.

How can you prevent property boundary disputes?

Usually, neighbors get along. Boundaries are set up to make that happen. You stay in your home and yard and your neighbor does the same. What happens when a boundary is in dispute, though? That's when things get contentious.

Some neighbors are peaceful and happy to work with each other to resolve the situation. Some require mediation or arbitration to discuss the issues. Others require a full-blown court case. Of course, disputes can't be prevented entirely, but there are a few things you can do to prevent them in most cases.

Buying a new build: Get the home you want

Buying a new home is an exciting time in anyone's life, but only if the real estate transaction goes well. There are many legal issues that could come up and hurt the transaction. There are also things you might want to change about a home that could impact the sale.

For example, if you love the house you're going to purchase but want to have hardwood floors instead of carpeting, you might have to ask the seller to change that before the sale. If he or she says no, then you'll have to decide if you want to do it or buy a different property. Comparatively, if you're buying a new build or development property, the construction team might happily make those changes for you.

Tenants and landlords: Negotiating rent

Rental properties are there to help a landlord make money, and in turn, provide tenants a place to live without requiring them to buy. When the real estate market gets tighter in the local economy, one thing you may be able to do is to negotiate the price of an apartment or rental building. As a tenant, you can politely bring up the cost of the home and negotiate, and as a landlord, you have the right to price the home at any price you believe is fair in the current market.

How can a tenant reduce the cost of a rental property?

Changes to credit may help you finance a real-estate purchase

If you are looking into making a real estate purchase, there is some good news on the horizon. Starting in July 2017, the three largest credit-reporting agencies will be excluding tax liens and civil debts from their reports, helping your credit score improve. In turn, this means you may be able to obtain a better interest rate, mortgage and make a better real estate purchase.

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are setting this new plan into motion as of July 1, which gives the companies time to correct consumer data on the reports. The revisions are likely to improve consumer scores. In order to have a lien or civil debt removed, you only need to show that your Social Security number, birthday, name or address is not on the judgment. In most cases, at least one of those items is missing.

How can mediation help in a real estate dispute?

It may be the case that you don't always get along with a landlord, or, if you're a landlord, you might not get along with your tenant. If you have a real-estate dispute as a landlord or tenant, buyer or seller, you're not alone. Many people struggle with disputes, but there is a way to work through them. One of those ways is through mediation.

Why should you choose mediation? It's a helpful process in which a third-party mediator, usually well-versed in real-estate and state laws, listens and gives input into your situation. Both you and the other party may meet with the mediator independently or at the same time, depending on the situation. Mediation is typically used first when a conflict arises, instead of heading to trial. Going to court is more expensive and time consuming.

What responsibilities does a landlord have toward tenants?

Landlords and tenants both have their own set of responsibilities when they enter into a leasing contract. Landlords specifically are required to keep the rental property in a habitable condition. Additionally, if the landlord wants to enter the property, he or she must inform the tenant with a reasonable amount of notice. The only time a landlord can enter a property without notice is if there is an emergency.

There are a number of problems a tenant could have that a landlord should address as quickly as possible. For example, if it's winter and the heater fails, it isn't unreasonable to expect a repair or other solution within 24 hours. However, if that happens in the summer, then waiting 48 hours or longer might not be a big deal.

How can you protect yourself against aggressive tenants?

You love being able to lease out your duplex, but you also know that whoever you bring in needs to be a safe, respectful tenant. How can you make sure you protect yourself as a landlord and only work with people who are respectful of your property?

Here are a few tips for keeping yourself safe. First, unless you live on the property, there's no reason to give away your home address. Simply give your tenant a phone number or email address where he or she can reach you in an emergency or when he or she needs to talk to you. If you would like to be paid via check, it's a good idea to opt for a P.O. box, so no disgruntled tenants know where you live.

2 cooperatives sue over construction of low-income homes

Real-estate disputes can happen for any number of reasons, but for these families, the cost of construction defects has left them in a serious conundrum. In June 2009, buyers started to purchase homes through a city program that offered low-income residents a way to purchase a home. Now, the board of each complex the program used is suing the Briarwood Organization, stating that construction defects have created millions of dollars in repair bills and hurt the values of the homes.

Briarwood is in local Bayside, and it is run by a fifth generation of a local family. The firm works with many city-based projects and has over 600 total units in the Bronx and Brooklyn. In 2010, the company head even talked about how high-quality homes were being built with Energy Star appliances.

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