In an unpublished Appellate Division opinion issued last month, an award of lost rents was affirmed in a matter where two neighbors were pitted against each other in a residential construction dispute. One property owner wanted to raze his house and build a brand new two-family house for use as a rental property. However, after neighbor #1 demolished the existing home and completed construction of the new first floor, the owner realized the the next door neighbor's fire-escape protruded onto his property. Therefore, construction of the new home was forced to stop as the second floor would hit the protruding fire escape. Both neighbors had land surveys performed which confirmed the encroachment, but the "stubborn" neighbor refused to modify or remove the fire escape - even after owner #1 offered to pay for such action. After an almost two-year delay to construction, the "stubborn" neighbor relented and repaired the fire escape to conform with the property boundaries. However, since the neighbor caused a two-year delay, the first owner filed suit seeking compensation for weather damage to the new but unfinished construction, as well as the lost rents. The trial court found the "stubborn" neighbor at fault and awarded neighbor #1 those damages, a decision that was upheld on appeal by the Appellate Division. (Rosario v. Pallazhco)
Peter J. Vazquez, Jr.