landlord tenant attorneys' fees

Landlord Wins Then Loses Attorneys’ Fees

Landlord’s award of attorneys’ fees reversed on appeal.

In NYC it’s not an easy task to get attorneys’ fees awarded in a landlord tenant action. Ordinarily, only a prevailing party is entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees.  Thus, it is unusual to see attorneys’ fees awarded to either party when a stipulation of settlement is reached.

However, the Bronx County Civil Court awarded a landlord attorneys’ fees in the sum of $2,200 after the settlement of a nonpayment summary proceeding. The Appellate Term reversed the award of attorneys’ fees to the landlord because he “did not achieve prevailing party status.”

The Court, in MORRISON LLC v. Linder, 2014 NY Slip Op 50274, states in pertinent part:

Order (Brenda S. Spears, J.), dated May 17, 2013, insofar as appealed from, reversed, without costs, and landlord’s application for attorneys’ fees is denied.

On this record, which shows that landlord agreed to withdraw its possessory claim as “moot” and reprocess the rent checks timely tendered by tenant but rejected by the depository bank based on landlord’s own faulty endorsement, landlord did not achieve prevailing party status for purposes of recovering attorneys’ fees (see Nestor v McDowell, 81 NY2d 410, 415-416 [1993]; Berman v Dominion Management Co., 50 AD3d 605 [2008]).

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