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When Landlords Use RPAPL 881 to Sidestep Your Rights

When Landlords Use RPAPL 881 to Sidestep Your Rights

If you are a tenant or property owner, you most likely use and enjoy all components of your home or business. In New York, space for real estate is precious, and buildings are often constructed on the edge of property lines. This limits a property owner’s or developer’s ability to develop its property or make certain repairs or modifications without entering your premises, especially since the NY Department of Buildings requires property owners to use scaffolding to protect adjacent buildings and passersby from harm during the construction process.

If your neighbor or a developer wants to encroach onto your property for any reason or possibly to place scaffolding on your property or around your outdoor terrace, you may be rightfully concerned and seek protection from the Court. While some cases warrant this encroachment to some limited extent, other situations may be wholly or partly unjustified or will place significant burdens upon your real property or business.

According to New York Statute RPAPL § 881, a property owner can obtain a special license to enter and make changes within your premises if:

  • They asked you for permission and you denied it;
  • The repairs/improvements they need to make are reasonable and necessary; and
  • Entering your premises is necessary for the repairs/improvements.

Essentially, this statute allows a landlord or adjoining property owner to apply to the Court for permission to work within or build into your property or place a fence on your property to some extent and for a limited period without your consent.

How We Handle RPAPL § 881 Cases

Our attorney at the Law Office of Steven R. Sutton has extensive experience handling these unfortunately not so rare cases and complex disputes between adjoining property owners and landlord-tenant disputes. Decades ago, this statute was largely overlooked and unused, but as New York continues to populate and expand, tenants and real property owners need every possible tool to protect their rights.

If your neighboring property owner or landlord or developer of an adjoining property is attempting to obtain a license under RPAPL § 881, or they have already obtained the license and have begun work that is damaging your property or interfering with your enjoyment of your property or livelihood, you still have options.

With our support, you can demonstrate to the court that the adjoining property owner can make their proposed improvements or repairs without entering your premises or infringing on your property rights. If they already obtained the license, you can prove that the changes they are making do not coincide with the terms of the license agreement, or their work is damaging your property or risking your health or safety. The licensee is explicitly liable for any damage that occurs in the process of their improvements or repairs.

How the court will resolve your case depends on a few factors, including:

  • The extent of the improvements and repairs
  • The protections needed to safeguard you and your property
  • Reasonable compensation for your loss of access or usage of the affected area
  • Reasonable compensation for the adjoining property owner’s use of your property to any extent
  • Resulting damages
  • Payment of your Attorney and Professional Fees

Generally, the court will weigh your inconvenience against the hardship neighbors would experience if no improvements or repairs were made. While the statute allows property owners to temporarily sidestep the rights of neighbors and tenants, New York law protects you from unreasonable encroachment and ensuing damages.

Get in Touch with Our Team for Additional Information and Support

In our experience, property owners are fully capable of trying to abuse the power of RPAPL § 881, and you can join our growing list of clients who overturn or limit these privileges and attain fair compensation and protection of their rights. With more than 75 years of combined experience, we have a history of obtaining fair results and appropriate license agreements for our clients while preserving and protecting their property.

Schedule your consultation with the Law Office of Steven R. Sutton by calling (212) 696-0090 today.


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