Landlord Gets Attorney's Fees for Counterclaims Based on Apartment Damage
LVT Number: #31338
Former tenant sued landlord for return of apartment security deposit and claimed that landlord improperly commingled the security deposit in violation of General Obligations Law (GOL) Section 7-103. Landlord, in turn, counterclaimed for damages to the apartment. The trial court ruled against tenant and for landlord. Both sides appealed.
The appeals court ruled against tenant, who argued that landlord failed to produce a video of the claimed damages and that landlord had commingled his security deposit. The court found no harm to tenant concerning the video since landlord showed the same damage to the apartment in 60 photographs submitted into evidence. And, tenant didn't show the security deposit was commingled, even if his security deposit and rent were initially deposited into the same account.
Landlord claimed that the trial court should've awarded it attorney's fees but denied them because it found that landlord's claim was "in the nature of tort." The appeals court agreed. The lease provided that in the event of a legal dispute "the winning party may recover attorneys' fees in all lease disputes between landlord and tenant arising out of or in connection with the lease. Landlord's counterclaims were based on tenant's breach of lease provisions providing that he would take care of the apartment and all fixtures/equipment in it.
Moore v. Beautiful Spaces: App. No. 13258-13258A, Case No. 2020-02707, 2021 NY Slip Op 01850 (App. Div. 1 Dept.; 3/25/21; Kern, JP, Oing, Singh, Moulton, JJ)