Landlord Misled Tenant in Buyout Negotiation
LVT Number: #29776
Landlord sued to evict rent-stabilized tenant after tenant broke an agreement to move out in exchange for $20,000. In response, tenant claimed harassment by landlord. The court dismissed the case and imposed a civil penalty on landlord. A court may enforce an out-of-court agreement that tenant would move out for consideration, but the court must evaluate the agreement in light of public policy and fairness. A court will enforce such an agreement when tenant initiates the negotiation and is represented by an attorney. In this case, although tenant had already accepted $3,000 toward the $20,000 payout, the agreement was unenforceable. Landlord initiated negotiation for the buyout and incorrectly stated to tenant, who didn't have an attorney, that his lease wouldn't be renewed if he didn't move out. Tenant was 72 years old, had lived in the apartment for eight years, received a Section 8 subsidy and SSDI benefits, and was poor and disabled. Tenant also had attempted to return the initial $3,000 payment to landlord. Since landlord misled tenant, the agreement to surrender the apartment was void. The court also found that landlord harassed tenant and fined it $2,000.
ABJ Milano LLC v. Howell: Index No. 65131/2017, 2018 NY Slip Op 28335 (Civ. Ct. NY; 10/9/18; Stoller, J)