A Message from the Co-Managing Partners
Our BBG team of attorneys, legal professionals and entire staff wish all of you a happy, healthy and safe New Year. To say 2020 was difficult does not do justice to what we all have experienced and endured on both personal and professional levels. Within the despair and fog that Covid-19 shrouded upon all of us, there were acts of kindness, selflessness, resiliency and generosity. We salute all of the health care and frontline workers and their families for the tremendous sacrifices they made throughout 2020.
We were all hoping that 2020 would bring some relief from the passage of the 2019 Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (“HSPTA”) and its chilling effect on the real estate industry. As predicted, HSTPA had a severe financial impact to the City and State budgets and caused significant deficits. With Covid-19, New York City, State and the real estate world was hit with another devastating blow. BBG adapted and quickly adjusted to the needs of our clients.
Our firm was called on to give advice and counsel cooperative/condominium boards, owners, developers and landlords faced with a plethora of novel legal issues regarding health and safety procedures, as well as regulations to operate buildings, defaulting commercial and residential tenants, rent deferral and lease modification agreements. Many times, you just called simply to talk about how all our lives had been impacted. We cannot thank you enough for trusting us in these difficult times. It meant a lot to all of us.
Our Transactional Department learned to pivot quickly moving forward virtually, closing hundreds of millions of dollars in purchase and sale transactions in 2020. We, along with the assistance of our Administrative Department, represented the buyers of an $860 Million Dollar, 14-building acquisition of a multifamily portfolio. BBG’s attorneys advised the buyers on the intricacies of “new” and “old” 421-a tax abatements, land use and zoning as well the title and survey parts of the transaction. We also represented a well-known real estate family in a $63 Million Dollar refinancing of the families’ 17 building multifamily portfolio in New York City. We represented an institutional client in the sale of a $53 Million Dollar mixed use complex in Norwalk, CT and our Coop and Condo Department adroitly represented 15 boards, closing the refinancing of their buildings remotely, while facilitating the signing of closing documents from all over the country, as clients had scattered throughout the country.
We cannot thank our entire staff enough for their dedication and hard work, under extraordinary circumstances, to make sure our clients were proactively, efficiently and effectively represented. Video communications became the norm. As the Courts began to creep open, the Litigation Department made sure we enforced our clients’ rights. BBG was one of the first law firms in New York to defeat a commercial tenant’s defense of impossibility of performance/frustration of purpose to the payment of rent, not once but multiple times in both State and Federal Court.
BBG, working both in the office and remotely, will continue to be there for you. However, while the effects of Covid-19 may soon diminish, the impact of the recent Federal and State elections will continue to reverberate throughout 2021 and beyond. The new Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 (“Covid-19 EEFPA”) was enacted; this was in addition to the already passed one-sided residential and commercial harassment laws and the “Guaranty Law”. The State Legislature now has a Democratic super-majority. We can only hope that some sense of rationality and even-handedness will begin to take hold.
From the passage of Covid-19 EEFPA, we took the lead advising and guiding our clients on its impact, requirements and alternatives. BBG is committed to being a leader and resource in 2021 when changes in the law occur. We are here to counsel and guide you through what promises to be a difficult and impactful 2021 Legislative session. Our Litigation and Administrative Departments are currently representing three of the four defendant owners in separate class action lawsuits regarding the 421-a program. The strength of our litigation team at the Civil and Supreme Courts and our appellate attorneys before the Appellate Courts will continue to be invaluable asset to you.
Whether you are buying, selling, borrowing or lending on a multi-family building or portfolio, there has never been a more important time to have our team provide the necessary due diligence. The HSTPA mandates both a deep understanding of rent regulation, market rate multi-family law and the increased penalties for non-compliance. Moreover, because the HSTPA eliminated the “safe harbor” of a rent refund made in response to a rent overcharge case (and avoidance of treble damages), many of our clients have engaged our Administrative Department to engage in rent audits to discover and adjust rent discrepancies before a complaint is filed.
The Administrative Department’s experience with affordable housing and various New York City and State agencies and commissions was instrumental in negotiating a successful resolution to a more than a year long NYC Commission on Human Rights income discrimination investigation, in which there was ultimately no finding of discrimination and expedited our client’s ability to rent its affordable units.
We start 2021 cognizant of all that we have faced during 2020 and the strength we have gained from all that we have endured during Covid-19. We deeply value and appreciate our client relationships. Our firm is dedicated to continuing to strive to earn and maintain your trust and confidence each and every day in 2021.
Thank you for your belief in us. Wishing you and your families a prosperous and healthy New Year.