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The stip says "legal fees reserved" do I have to pay them?

Brooklyn, NY |

I am going through hell with my gold digging landlord. I lost my job, and my unemployment benefits were abruptly cancelled after 9 months. So, I found a job, and applied for a one shot deal, and miraculously got it. The rent for this dump is twice what it should be, and June rent was due on the 1st. The landlord wrote "legal fees reserved" into the stip I signed. I genuinely took it to mean legal fees withheld. I can't afford to pay them, and they won't drop them. Any advice please??

Attorney Answers 2

  1. It sounds like legal fees is an open issue to be resolved at a future court date.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been handling criminal defense and personal injury cases for over 17 years. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails, is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.

  2. Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

    The choice to make an agreement to save your home in a nonpayment case even when the rent is unfair for a "dump" is yours to make. The fact that the landlord allowed you the chance to settle by agreeing to pay avoids the eviction if you do pay. The reservation of an entitlement to legal fees is a normal term for this form of settlement. The landlord does not usually "waive" the right to legal fees when settling with a promise to pay. Reserving the right to the legal fees is in case the tenant defaults in making the promised settlement payment, the landlord needs to restore the case to the calendar for an enforcement of the settlement and a right to either gain a warrant of eviction or a judgment for possession. So that means there are no "legal fees" due or must be paid unless the tenant defaults and does not pay as provided in the agreement. Even then, the Housing Court judge must determine the landlord's reasonable legal fees. Even then, the "legal fees" if not paid are not usually made part of a possession judgment and so not paying only the "legal fees" portion of the judgment by itself does not result in an eviction.

    The time to inquire about the terms of the agreement is when the Housing Court judge asked for questions before approving the stipulation.

    The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.

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