NYC Construction Access Agreements Attorney

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Property owners and developers in New York City face the daunting challenges of navigating access to neighboring properties that are critical for project completion. These challenges can include access agreement disputes and legal intricacies that can lead to costly delays, litigation, serious construction issues, and strained relations with adjacent property owners.

At Richman Law Firm PLLC, we understand that access agreements are essential legal instruments in urban construction. They ensure that both parties’ interests are addressed and protected. Whether you are a property owner, real estate developer, or contractor, we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Understanding Access Agreements

An access agreement is a legal contract between property owners that grants one party permission to enter another’s property for specific purposes related to the construction or maintenance of adjoining properties. These agreements are pivotal in cities like New York, where buildings are close, and the actions on one property can significantly impact another.

Access agreements must address potential risks and liabilities, provide clear guidelines on the scope and duration of the access, compensation for the granting party, and measures for protecting both properties during the period of access.

What Is Covered in Access Agreements

Access agreements are multifaceted documents that require meticulous attention to detail and negotiation to ensure they comprehensively cover all aspects of the proposed construction or maintenance activities. Here is an outline of what they may include:

Description of Permitted Work

Access agreements should explicitly define the work permitted on the adjacent property. This could range from minor repairs to significant construction projects. By clearly outlining the nature of the work, disputes and misunderstandings can be minimized.

Scope of Access

The agreement should detail the extent of access granted. This includes specifying which parts of the property can be accessed, what equipment can be used, and any applicable restrictions.

Duration of License

The agreement must state the duration for which access is granted. This includes the start and end dates and extension or early termination provisions.


In many cases, compensation is provided to the granting party for the inconvenience caused by the access. The agreement should outline how this compensation is calculated and when it will be paid.

Insurance and Indemnification

Given the potential risks involved in construction work, access agreements and contracts must include insurance coverage and indemnification provisions. These provisions protect both parties from liability in case of accidents or property damage.

New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL § 881)

In New York, the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL § 881) governs access to neighboring properties for construction purposes. This law allows property owners to obtain court-ordered access to an adjacent property when necessary for improvements or repairs and when such access has been denied.

The RPAPL § 881 requires the petitioner to demonstrate that the work is necessary and that access to the neighboring property is essential to carry out the work. The court then balances the necessity of access against the inconvenience to the adjacent property owner. If access to adjoining property is granted, it is typically subject to conditions designed to protect the rights and interests of the neighboring property owner.

Consequences of Denying Access to Property

If a neighbor has requested access for construction or repair work and you refuse, they may seek legal recourse under RPAPL § 881. If the court determines that the work is necessary and that access to your property is essential for the work to be completed, it may grant a license for your neighbor to enter your property.

If you continue to deny access after a court order, you could face penalties for contempt of court. Additionally, if the refusal to grant access causes delays or increases costs for the project, you could potentially be held liable for those additional expenses.

It’s important to note that while you have rights as a property owner, so do your neighbors. A balance must be struck between protecting the interests of both parties while allowing necessary work to proceed.

License and Access Agreements’ Limitations

License and access agreements, while providing a necessary road map for construction projects and repair work, also have their limitations. The rights granted under an access agreement or license are typically limited to the specific purposes outlined in the agreement.

For instance, if the agreement grants access to perform repairs, the licensee cannot use this access to carry out new construction work without obtaining further consent. Additionally, the licensee is generally not authorized to cause unnecessary damage or disruption to the licensor’s property.

The license is also typically non-transferable, meaning it cannot be assigned to another party without the licensor’s consent. Additionally, once the agreed-upon work has been completed or the license period has expired, the licensee must cease all activities on the licensor’s property.

Property Owner’s Claims Arising from Access Violations

In New York City, few things can be more frustrating than an adjoining property owner violating your rights and privacy.

We’ve assisted clients struggling with access agreements where contractors overstay their welcome and cases where a general contractor didn’t bother to seek a license and access.

Our construction lawyers can assist with these issues because they are well-equipped to handle construction project litigation when there is no room for negotiation.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Construction litigation in New York City presents unique challenges and opportunities. Our construction law firm can assist property owners and construction managers in navigating conflicts with adjoining property owners or compliance with municipal regulations.

If you are involved in a construction project that requires drafting, reviewing, and negotiating access agreements to an adjacent property, or if you are a property owner who has been approached about granting such access, we have the experience and knowledge you need in construction disputes. Contact Richmal Law Firm PLLC today.


How do access agreements differ from easements in New York City?

In New York City, access agreements and easements are two ways to grant the right to use someone else’s property, but they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics.

Access agreements are typically temporary and flexible arrangements between property owners to accommodate specific access needs. They are usually tied to the owner and not the property and can be terminated or renegotiated over time.

Easements are more permanent rights attached to the property and often remain in effect even when the property changes hands. Easements are designed to last and are much harder to modify or terminate compared to access agreements.

Who is responsible for access and licensing costs in NYC?

In New York City, determining who is responsible for the costs associated with access and licensing is often a point of negotiation between the parties involved. Typically, the party seeking access is responsible for bearing the costs of obtaining the license to access the neighboring property. However, the actual expenses can be allocated differently based on the agreement reached.


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    Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines. ​

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