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Court strikes down a $5,000 fine against owner.

Court strikes down a $5,000 fine against owner

In a precedent-setting ruling, the Appellate Division, First Department, struck down a $5,000 fine against a landlord accused of violating and agreement with an evicted tenant.

The landlord, 305 East 92nd Street Corp., had entered into a court-approved agreement in 1989 with the tenant, Stuart R. Pearl, in December 1989. Under the stipulation, rendered by the Supreme Court, New York County, Pearl would vacate apartment 4W for $25,000 from the landlord, half to be paid immediately and half after the tenant left the premises.

The landlord alter discovered that Pearl had vandalized the apartment, and refused to pay the second $12,500 installment without deducting $7,500 for repairing the damage left behind. Pearl, admitting his destruction of the property (TRUE?), accused 305 East 92nd Street Corp. of breaching the stipulation.

The judge, William Davis, then slapped the landlord with a $5,000 sanction. The landlord retained Rosenberg & Estis, P.C., a Manhattan real estate law firm, to appeal the case.

Jeffrey Turkel, the attorney representing the landlord, argued that it was the Pearl, not 305 East 92nd Street Corp., who had broken the $25,000 agreement, because the tenant had vandalized the apartment. The Appeals Court unanimously agreed on August 15, striking down the $5,000 fine and ordering a hearing to be held to determine the extent of property damage.

"This case shows that if a tenant damages an apartment out of spite, even after setting with a landlord -- as occasionally happens -- he cannot do so with impunity," Turkel said. "The lower court completely ignored the vandalism issue, and was properly reversed on appeal."

Turkel added that if 305 East 92nd Street Corp. can prove at the hearing that Pearl vandalized the apartment, he will be financially penalized for doing so and the buy-out payment will be reduced.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 27, 1991
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