Rent Demand Requested Legal Fees and Late Charges
LVT Number: 8294
Facts: Landlord sued to evict a number of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants for nonpayment of rent. In its written three-day notices demanding rent, landlord also demanded payment of collection costs, legal fees, and late charges. These amounts were demanded under lease clauses that defined these items as additional rent. Tenants claimed that it was against the law for the three-day notice to demand payment of charges other than the legal regulated or maximum rent. The cases were consolidated to decide this question. Court: Tenants win. Under the rent regulation laws, landlord can't demand or receive rent in excess of the legal regulated or maximum rent. So, it was unlawful for landlord to demand late charges or attorney's fees in a three-day notice. Tenants might pay these charges to avoid the stress and expense of litigation without realizing that they don't have to. Any lease clause to the contrary isn't enforceable. But, the court noted that landlord can include a demand for late charges or attorney's fees in its nonpayment petition.
London Terrace Gardens v. Stevens: NYLJ, p. 22, col. 5 (10/6/93) (Civ. Ct. NY; Gans, J)