New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Condo Board Sues Neighbor Over Unpaid Access Agreement Fees

Greenwich Village, Manhattan

Licensing agreement, access agreement, unpaid fees, luxury condo, lawsuit.

The board at a luxury condo (right) has sued the developer of the office building next door over unpaid fees. 

Licensing agreements, also known as access agreements, are a fact of life for most co-op and condo boards in New York City. When a board, or its neighbor, needs to do exterior repair work, or when a developer wants to erect a new building next door, the neighbors must hash out an agreement that dictates how much access workers will have to the neighboring building, fees for lawyers, engineers, inconvenience and the loss of amenities, plus safety measures, the duration of the work and numerous other variables. In most cases, the agreements are worked out amicably and the work proceeds smoothly. But not always.

An exception that proves the rule is now unfolding in the West Village. The condo board at 122 Greenwich Ave. has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, claiming the developer of a 10-story office building next door has failed to pay fees for the loss of use of terraces on the sixth and 10th floors of the 30-unit luxury condo, Crain's reports. The licensing agreement calls for the developer, whose principal is Sang Lee, to pay a fee of $4,000 a month during warm weather and $2,500 a month during wintertime.

But since the fall of 2021, according to the lawsuit, the developer has fallen short on payments. In March the developer paid $40,000, but the money does not cover all the fees owed to the owners of the two blocked terraces, nor any of the other charges due to the condo board for offering workers access to the condo property during construction. The condo also accuses construction crews of puncturing walls, removing railings and splattering concrete on its 11-story building, which features a wavy-glass facade.

The lawsuit is seeking $250,000 plus fees from the developer.

Julie Schechter, a partner at the law firm Armstrong Teasdale, tells Habitat there's a way to prevent unpaid fees from leading neighbors into a courtroom. "It's not atypical to get an advance payment on the fees," she says. "That way at least I know my client will be compensated. Or you can create an escrow account, and you negotiate terms for touching that money. If your neighbor fails to pay the agreed-upon fees, you can draw on that account."

The most recent apartment sale at 122 Greenwich Ave. was in August, when a buyer paid $5.6 million for a penthouse with floor-to-ceiling windows. When you pay that kind of money, you tend to want to be able to use your terrace.

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