A small leak developed in the closet ceiling of apartment 15L, a coop apartment. The Coop’s engineer’s opinion was that it was caused by a leak from the bathroom in apartment 16L. The 16L apartment owner retained our firm and an engineer whose opinion was that the leak was not emanating from our client’s bathroom but rather from pipes higher up in the building.
When our client refused to permit the coop’s engineer to break open the walls to her bathroom, the Coop entered her apartment , at a time when they knew she was out of the country, and without her permission and without notice totally demolished her bathroom, removing the shower stall, basin, toilet, walls and floors.
Next stop: court case. The Coop sued, claiming that because the leak came from our client’s apartment they had the right to investigate and abate the leak even if that meant dismantling the bathroom and they were entitled to reimbursement for legal and engineering fees.
After nine days of trial the court dismissed the Coop’s claims, finding that our client did nothing wrong. A motion for reimbursement of our client’s costs and fees is pending.
Note: We have found that disputes between coops and proprietary lessees over access and repair issues develop into battle royals. Emotions, and costs, run high, settlements are difficult to attain and trials are long and hard fought.
William J. Gribben