In the recent past, I have written several posts about when property owners can be liable for accidents caused by their failure to shovel snow from the sidewalks abutting their property. The basic rules are well settled – residential property owners generally don't have a duty to shovel but commercial property owners do. Therefore, my posts focused on the more unique (and hopefully, interesting) cases. For example, one post discussed whether a property was residential or commercial, and therefore whether the property owner would be required to shovel or not, when the owner lived in one unit of the multifamily building and rented out the other units. Another post discussed whether a lender who obtained final judgment of foreclosure on a commercial property, but that had not yet taken title to the property through a sheriff's sale, was required to shovel the sidewalks around the building.
Now there is another case that is somewhat different than the traditional snowy sidewalk slip and fall. In Holmes v. INCAA-Carroll Street Houses Corp, plaintiff was a tenant in a property owned by defendants. She sued after she slipped, while on the way to her car, on "an accumulation of snow" approximately three feet from the doorway to her apartment. (The area where she fell was actually not a sidewalk, but was instead a "lawn or grassy area," but this distinction was not relevant to the court's decision.) A snowstorm has been raging since the night before. The snow had slowed, and perhaps even stopped, by the morning of the accident, but the storm had nonetheless dropped more than 15 inches of snow on the area. The conditions in the area were so severe that, when plaintiff's son called an ambulance to take her to the hospital, the ambulance company refused because of poor road conditions. The roads were not clear until the following day, at which point plaintiff drover herself to her doctor's office to be examined.
Plaintiff alleged that defendant had a duty to clear the snow from the property. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it had no duty to do so in the middle of a storm. The court agreed with defendant.
Continue reading “Just In Time For Summer, A New Decision On When You Are Required To Clear Snow From Your Property” →
by: Katharine A. Muscalino
The Bay Head Planning Board initially approved a bulk variance application submitted by a property owner who had inherited an irregular lot with just ten feet of frontage, where fifty feet was required. Finding that denying a bulk variance for the frontage requirement would result in an undue hardship, and that the Applicant had adequately addressed concerns about emergency access to the Property resulting from the lot frontage variance, the Board approved the application with a 5-4 vote. Per the approval, the Applicant was required to submit a drainage plan for the Borough Engineer’s approval at the time of site plan application.
Upon an objector’s prerogative writ suit, the parties discovered that a board member had voted on the bulk variance without attending all of the meetings or reviewing all of the transcripts. The bulk variance application was remanded for a new vote, following a review of the transcripts by all of the board members. The Board then voted to deny the bulk variance, with a 4-5 vote. In its resolution, the Board explained that it denied application because the applicant had failed to provide “affirmative testimony… by any competent engineer… on how the applicant would address the well known drainage issues which plagued the proposed lot and more assuredly concerned the adjoining property owners.”
Continue reading “Planning Board Can’t Deny Variance Based on Anticipated Inability of Applicant to Satisfy Site Plan Criteria” →
by: Katharine A. Muscalino
Although a landlord is generally required to maintain a leasehold in good condition, the Appellate Division has now clarified that the leasehold’s condition must make the premises attractive to tenants’ customers and assist in the tenants’ “in selling their wares and goods.” In Wallington Plaza, LLC v. Taher, decided on July 7, 2011, the tenant vacated the premises upon one months’ notice, with six months remaining in the lease term. The landlord demanded judgment in the amount of six months’ rent. However, the tenant claimed that because the landlord had breached an implied covenant to maintain the shopping center in a good condition attractive to tenants’ customers, tenant was only obligated to pay rent for the time it occupied the premises. Finding that the parking lot of the shopping center was run-down and that many of the other shopping center stores were vacant, the court agreed that landlord had breached this obligation. The court held that tenant was responsible for paying two months’ rent, inclusive of its last month of occupancy following its notice, because the lease required two months’ notice of termination of the lease.