How new laws affect buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants
Offer and Acceptance When your offer is accepted by the seller, you have no rights. Instead, within the State of New York, a seller is not bound to you until there is a fully executed contract of sale. So stop saying it wasn’t right or unethical for the seller to keep showing the property to other buyers after they accepted your offer. You sound foolish. The only thing that wasn’t right or ethical was your presumption that anyone owed you anything in the first place.
Credits on Purchase Stop asking for $100 credits for defective property conditions (overgrown lawn, missing outlet cover, dirty pool). Get some perspective. You are buying a house worth hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Items of this scale need to be disregarded when making your purchasing decision. Yes, they come up in your home inspection report, but the focus of the report should be on big ticket items like the home’s systems (boiler, AC, hot water tank) and its structure (roof, foundation, moisture levels), not these petty items. You need to ask yourself when attempting to renegotiate the purchase price: am I willing to kill this deal over this item? If not, get over it. If so, it’s advisable to first get an estimate for the repair before demanding a reduced sales price.
Breach Fears Hurt Ears Your buyer is not going to breach the deal. Stop your panic attack. Yes, it’s possible that they don’t close the deal, but they are motivated to close by the down payment that your attorney is holding in escrow. Stop calling your broker every day and complaining that you feel like they are going to back out. This does nothing besides make everyone nuts. The best solution to your fears is to demand a high enough down payment in the first place. That number should be enough that you are happy to keep the money and relist the house should the buyer default. If it’s not enough and that ship has sailed, then you need to stop demanding that the buyer meets every deadline (home inspection, clearing title, fixing structures, and closing date) and instead be as accommodating as possible, rather than annoying, to enable the buyer to close.
Selling Costs Money Incident to your sale, you may need to update your property into a sellable condition (updated survey, CO reflecting the existing structure, certificate of abandonment on oil tank). While you are likely angry about this fact, realize you can’t sell your property without spending this money. Don’t look at it as an extra cost of the sale, but instead a fundamental cost of ownership. Further, you probably should have been maintaining these issues throughout the course of your ownership.
You Have the Right to Live in Legal Property When you rent a property, you have a statutory right to be notified by the landlord whether the property is legal (that is, if there is a currently valid certificate of occupancy for the dwelling unit). This means that properties with illegal conversions need to disclose such illegality to you incident to the rental. Interestingly, case law provides that a landlord without a proper CO will have a difficult time enforcing their lease against you in court. Further, a tenant has a right to call code enforcement, which will ticket the landlord when the property doesn’t have a CO.
Leases Can’t Waive Rights The State of New York provides many rights to tenants that are non-waivable regardless of the terms of a lease (such as right to assign / sublet, landlord’s liability for negligence, receipts for rent, security deposits). When you get into a dispute with your landlord, simply reading the lease is not enough. Instead, you need to consult with an attorney to ascertain whether a lease provision is void as against public policy and you have a non-waivable right.
Brokers Should NOT Draft Your Lease Pursuant to what is known as the Duncan and Hill Standard, real estate brokers may not draft a lease. In fact, brokers who wrongfully draft a lease are violating license laws from the Department of State. Besides, why would any landlord with a brain want their real estate broker to draft a lease on a multimillion dollar property? Talk about being penny wise and dollar foolish. Any landlord who has been involved in an eviction proceeding will tell you that spending the money on an attorney, who has the legal capacity to draft a lease, is worth every penny.
Stop Discriminating There is no reason whatsoever that you need to meet the prospective tenants or learn about their demographics besides a desire to stereotype and discriminate. Assuming you disagree, how are you planning on proving that you had a legitimate, non-discriminatory, business rationale (the defense standard for a Fair Housing violation) for obtaining the demographics? Instead, the best tenant for your property is the one who makes the best financial offer. Remember, you should utilize an attorney to draft your lease and s/he will have many suggestions, beyond base rent, to maximize your financial reward from the lease (pre-payment of rent, security deposit notices and inclusions, added rent, holdover provision, late payment penalties, bounced check penalties, and so on).
Right of Way / Easement Just because you have a right of way or an easement over your neighbor’s property (you have a dominant estate over your neighbor’s servient estate) doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want on that property. More and more, disrespectful neighbors are getting sued for trespass when they overstep their dominant estate rights. Keep an open dialogue between neighbors concerning expectations on shared property (common driveway, docks). This is the best way to avoid court and payments to your litigation attorney.
Municipal Tickets The most common reason that you are receiving a zoning violation ticket from your town or village is because you got into an argument with your neighbor. However, before you complain about your neighbor’s violation (fence, garbage, noise, parking, construction), remember that your neighbor can also complain about you next. They say that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar–so, why not invite the neighbor over for a BBQ and talk it over before you escalate the fight to include fines and legal bills.