Merlino & Gonzalez November 2017

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November 2017





Thank You to Our Team and Clients

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I have a confession to make. Some of you may be offended when I say this, but I’d much rather have a nice steak than some turkey, whether it’s the fourth Thursday in November or not. Maybe because of this, or maybe because we’ve just been too busy to cook over the last few years, our family tradition involves going into Manhattan for dinner. It may not be everyone’s idea of a classic Thanksgiving meal, but it’s become a special and highly anticipated event for my family. We don’t always go to the same restaurant, but there is one that we visit more often than not: Del Frisco’s on 6th Avenue. It’s a wonderful experience to get dressed up as a family, head into the city, and sit down to a massive steak. Even better, Del Frisco’s is right near Rockefeller Center, so it’s a perfect place to take in the wonder of Manhattan during the holidays. However, I do have to set a calendar reminder to make a reservation. You might think a restaurant wouldn’t be too busy on Thanksgiving, but I guess we’re not the only family that’s figured out the magic of Thanksgiving steak. Take that, turkey lovers!

securely in place. The ornaments and lighting are best left to the experts. Though if I’m needed to stand on a ladder, I’m happy to oblige. “A little to the left, John,” is an instruction I can understand. Food, football, and scenery are all great, but Thanksgiving is nothing without the expression of gratitude at the heart of the holiday. This year, I have more than enough to be thankful for. First, I’m grateful for the health and happiness of my wife and our children. With my son applying to colleges right now, the importance of spending the holidays together has become clearer than ever. I’ll be putting the pressure on him to come home for Thanksgiving next year, but, in the meantime, I’ll be sure to cherish this one. I’m also thankful for the extraordinary team at Merlino & Gonzalez. We work in an industry where turnover is a fact of life, and yet, our staff remains some of the most loyal in the business. I’d like to think that means we’re doing something right, but it’s mostly because we’ve hired a special collection of people who have grown into a family. Equally special are the clients we are lucky enough to guide through the real estate and estate planning processes. It’s you who make our firm what it is, and there are no words that could adequately express my gratitude. We know that moving offices may have made things a little hectic this year, but we think we can provide better service than ever from our new home. I received a piece of sage advice recently: If you worry about the four walls of your home and the four walls of your office, everything else will take care of itself. I hope you’ll be able to spend time with the loved ones within your four walls this Thanksgiving. We’ll be waiting within our four walls at the office when you get back.

More important than securing a prime reservation, though, is the simple pleasure of having a weekend to relax with the people I love. From watching football and taking a nap to exploring a park and enjoying the weather, Thanksgiving weekend always serves as a welcome refresher. The final family tradition of the weekend is putting up our Christmas tree. I mostly focus on making sure the tree is

John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.




pods so handy. They don’t look like they can clean all your dishes or an entire load of clothes, but they actually provide the perfect amount for modern machines. You save money on detergent and machine repair! FOAM CLEANING BLOCKS Anything with “magic” in the title sounds like a scam. For this reason, you may have avoided the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and similar melamine foam products. But this is one case where the product lives up to its wild claims. Melamine foam is abrasive and can break down and remove material out from cracks and textures, making it an effective That Actually Work

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But sometimes we stumble across a few hidden gems that make our lives easier. And, when it comes to cleaning house, we can all use a little “easier.” Check out these products you may have already written off and let them surprise you. DOLLAR STORE CLEANING PRODUCTS If you’ve ever ducked into the local dollar store to buy some Mylar balloons for your niece’s birthday party, you might have noticed the jugs and spray bottles plastered with the word “Awesome.” Surely this knock-off soap can’t work as well as your brand-name products,

right? You’d be surprised. Online reviewers sing Awesome’s praises, suggesting it should really be a higher price for how well it works. Just make sure you wear gloves when you use it. DETERGENT PODS You use too much soap in your washing machine and dishwasher. At least, that’s what the New York Times reported as the No. 1 complaint from repair people and appliance experts. Modern appliances are designed to use less water, and as soap becomes more concentrated, using too much can damage your machine. That’s what makes detergent

cleaner. It can be used to whiten sneakers, clean tub scum, and remove permanent marker from your fridge. Since the snake oil salesmen in the days of old first tricked trusting folks out of their hard- earned cash, consumers have wised up and

are quick to write off perceived scams. Still, every now then you get lucky, and the cheap white sponge really does make the stove look like new. But you should still think twice before you say yes to gas station sushi.

OFFICE HAPPENINGS FOR THE HOLIDAYS John just got back from Comic- Con, and it’s been a source of frequent conversation at the office. He was thrilled to have the chance to spend some time with fellow sci-fi and superhero geeks. There were a ton of amazing experiences, but one meeting in particular took the cake. As you can see from the photo we’ve included, John got to spend some face time with Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. “I’ve been waiting to meet him since 1977,” John says, “so when the chance presented itself, I wasn’t going to let a long line stand in my way.” hasn’t quite given up his career to become a Jedi. In fact, he’s been focused on continuing education to help empower lawyers in our area. On Oct. 16, he held a seminar covering the basics of real estate law in New Jersey. It was a new experience for him, and a chance to meet hard- working, conscientious lawyers from the Garden State. He didn’t even have to hop in an X-Wing to make the trip, but he did use a little bit of the force to educate his fellow attorneys. As Yoda once said, “Training happens once, but, forever, education lasts.” At least, we think Yoda would have said that. Now that the holiday season is ramping up, we’re looking forward to a busy schedule of office and family parties. Even though it’s not quite holiday punch, we’ll definitely be pressuring Ken to whip up some of his famous sangria for our Continuing Education, Parties on the Horizon

holiday parties. As we’ve mentioned before, his recipe is office-renowned and, even when he gives us the recipe, we can’t quite replicate his magic touch. He might be tired of making it, but we can promise we never get tired of drinking it.

Even with the excitement surrounding Comic-Con, John


A COMMON LANDLORD-TENANT ISSUE The Battle Over Security Deposits

If you’ve ever rented an apartment or other residential property, you’ve likely read the phrase “first and security.” In the majority of leases, a security deposit is required, along with your first month’s rent, to finalize a lease. This deposit is intended to cover the landlord in the event of damages that go beyond normal wear and tear. Unfortunately, the level of damage that allows a landlord to withhold a portion of a tenant’s deposit is the subject of much dispute. Because of this lack of clarity, security deposits are often the source of serious disagreement. There is no unilateral New York law limiting the amount of a security deposit. Certain cities and counties, however, do place caps on the figure. You should know the laws in your area to avoid being charged or charging too much. Even where laws aren’t in place, a landlord will see pushback from potential tenants if the deposit deviates much from one month’s rent. HOW MUCH CAN A LANDLORD CHARGE FOR THE SECURITY DEPOSIT?

HOW LONG DOES A LANDLORD HAVE TO RETURN A DEPOSIT? Again, the law is pretty murky, only specifying that it should be returned in “a reasonable amount of time.” It’s up to a court to decide what’s reasonable, but 21–45 days is typical. FOR WHICH DAMAGES CAN THE LANDLORD DEDUCT A PORTION OF THE DEPOSIT? The short answer is that any serious damage or excessive filth can be cause for a charge. Normal wear and tear does not qualify. Some possible damages include carpet tears, broken tiles, excessive holes in the wall, animal stains, broken locks, damaged appliances, and excessive bathroom filth. Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, a clear understanding of security deposit rules and expectations will lead to fewer confrontations. Deposits may be a thorny issue, but any conflict can be resolved through communication.



Looking for an easy, delicious Thanksgiving side dish? This gem requires only a few ingredients.

Grid n°72300 easy


8 6

9 4 1

• 2 tablespoons olive oil • 3 1/3 ounces fresh, hot Italian sausage • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts 1. Trim sprouts and cut in half. 2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, 3–5 minutes. 3. Add sprouts to skillet. Add 1/2 cup water. Add salt and pepper. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until just tender. Check them periodically and add a bit more water, if necessary. DIRECTIONS

6 7

• 1/2 cup water • Salt and pepper

1 6 7 8



4. When sprouts are just about


1 8 8 9

done, remove cover and raise heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring just once or twice, for a couple more minutes. The liquid should evaporate, and the sprouts should start to brown.

3 1 7 5 9 4 6


5. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or warm.

Recipe courtesy of

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394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314



An Expression of Gratitude These Products Make Housework Easier! Office Happenings for the Holidays Are You Fighting Over a Security Deposit? Brussel Sprouts With Sausage Thanksgiving at America’s Resort

go off-roading in a Jeep, and later, the whole family faces off in a game of laser tag. With 55 leisure activities offered at the resort, make every day as busy or as relaxing as you want before enjoying a gourmet dinner at one of the resort’s six full-time restaurants. The Greenbrier is a dream getaway anytime of the year, but America’s resort really goes all-out for the traditional American holiday, Thanksgiving. Family members from every generation can find something fun to do before the family gathers together for the massive Thanksgiving brunch in The Greenbrier’s Colonial Hall. The award-winning culinary brigade serves up Thanksgiving classics, like soft rolls and roasted turkey, alongside marinated mussels and ricotta tortellini. Make time for the horse-drawn carriage ride and evening gala, and you have the perfect Thanksgiving. RESORT Thanksgiving at America’s Carve Your Turkey at The Greenbrier

This Thanksgiving, many Americans plan to go over the river and through the woods to sleep on the air mattress at grandmother’s house. But your family Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be crowded and uncomfortable. For generations, The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, has brought families together for a weekend of true American elegance. The local hot springs have been popular with travelers since 1778, but The Greenbrier didn’t come to life until 1913. The sprawling 710-room national landmark sits on 11,000 acres of rolling hills and has been described as “‘Monte Carlo’ meets ‘Gone With the Wind.’” The blend of Colonial decor and Hollywood Regency flourishes make guests feel as if they have stepped back in time, while still offering all the modern amenities. Mom and grandma relax in the spa, grandpa enjoys a round of golf, the siblings all 4

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