When a dispute between two downtown Brooklyn row house neighbors over a shared basement hallway became unbearable, the homeowners being refused access to the hallway (the “Clients”) turned to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. (“ALBPC”) for help. Our Clients purchased a 135 year old row house in the Cobble Hill landmark district. It soon became apparent that the adjoining neighbors (“Neighbors”) had forced a change to the physical configuration of the shared basement hallway that blocked our Clients’ access to the hallway, eliminated a portion of the hallway that was exclusively part of our Clients’ house, and violated the historical integrity of the row house development.
ALBPC attorneys quickly got to work by painstakingly analyzing and pouring over hundreds of years of drawings, maps, land records, surveys, and easement records. The ALBPC team crafted a bullet-proof Complaint detailing the history of the property, including its historical significance as having been designed by renowned philanthropist Alfred Treadway White and the 135 year configuration of the hallway. The Complaint stated claims to (i) declare that an express easement protected the configuration of the hallway or (ii) if not, an easement by implication existed under the law and protected the configuration of the hallway.
Despite the detailed and well-documented Complaint allegations, the Neighbors moved to dismiss the Complaint arguing that: (i) the prior owners of our Clients’ property abandoned the express easement in a settlement agreement with the Neighbors and (ii) our Clients could not support the “reasonable necessity” required for an easement by implication.
In opposition, concerning the express easement ALBPC explained to the Neighbors that even though they had litigated with and defeated the prior owners of our Clients’ home on this point, since their agreement was not recorded on the land records, our Clients were not bound by it. Concerning the easement by implication. ALBPC explained to the Neighbors that protecting the historical integrity of the row house development legally constituted a “reasonable necessity” because the row house was in the Cobble Hill historic district.
The Court agreed with everything ALBPC argued and denied the Neighbors’ motion to dismiss on all fronts. The decision is a step in the right direction for the protection of historical buildings in New York, many of which suffer from similar issues arising from New York’s unique and rich real estate history.
Israel Katz, Esq. and another attorney of the Real Estate Litigation Group at Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. represent the client homeowners in this matter.