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Broker not licensed

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Broker not licensed

Postby LaurenL77777 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:13 pm

I paid a real estate salesperson a $1350 broker fee in cash. I have since found out that her license was expired when I paid her and when my lease began. She also did not give me the broker-landlord relationship disclosure OR a receipt for my payment.

In addition to this, the apartment was infested with bed bugs. I have since moved out of that apartment and only spent one night there for the 1.5 months I was "living" there. I was able to get my deposit back from my landlord and had him sign a form saying I am released from all obligations of the lease. When we met for him to return my deposit and I give him back the keys, he threatened to take me to court for the October rent check that I canceled - which id already told him about in a voicemail that he chose not to listen to. It was for $675 - half the month's rent - the amount we had agreed upon bc of the bedbug expenses i'd incurred. I canceled this because i realized I could not afford to lose any more money on a place I could not even live in and I did not believe I would be able to recover any of the $ i'd already lost (which was $4000 at that point). He is not HPD registered and the last time he was registered (last year) he said his building had 4 units when it has at least 10.

It's a rent stabilized apt. No bed bug rider in lease. No official history of bedbugs but I know the landlord knew bc I found diatomaceous earth (bed bug killer) in the apartment. I'm not currently considering taking him to court for bedbugs - unless he sues me for canceled check

The broker and the landlord have a close relationship - I am unsure of what it is or why, but both the landlord and broker always knew about conversations I had with the other, when the other was not present. Additionally, when googling the address associated with the broker - my landlord's daughter's law office comes up. I know that a friendship between broker and landlord is not illegal - but i do feel that they worked together to take thousands of dollars from me. If I'd been provided with the landlord-broker disclosure forms OR the bed bug history rider in my lease I would have made different decisions about the apartment.

I've been dealing with this for over 2 months and at this point i've recovered my deposit. I'm still out thousands of dollars from having all my things treated for the bed bugs, getting rid of my bed, mattress, and furniture, paying september rent for somewhere i could never live, and the broker fee. I want the broker fee back. The rest im chalking up to a loss.

So these are my questions:
1. i guess im looking for confirmation that this "real estate sales person" acted illegally, not just unethically.
2. should i sue the broker in small claims court for my broker fee? Is there anything else I can do? I don't want her to do this to someone else
3. if I do sue the broker in small claims court, do you think my landlord would go through with actually sueing me for the check i canceled?
4. if he does, would these cases be connected or separate?

Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated!!
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Re: Broker not licensed

Postby TenantNet » Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:50 pm

First understand that brokers are just middlemen between you and the LL. The broker is not responsible for the apartment.

But you can probably make a fuss about the lack of a license. Start here:
http://www.dos.ny.gov/licensing/re_brok ... roker.html

I can't say for sure, but perhaps you can try to get your money back. You might have to go to court, probably small claims court. If you can discover a LL/broker relationship, that might give you leverage if you can show the two colluded.

It seems like you have escaped the unit OK.

The LL might have a difficult time coming after you in court as a) you've already vacated, and b) the lack of HPD registration might be a problem. I would, however, go after him if he's illegally combining apartments. You can file complains with DOB, but might have to be persistent as DOB is much more rigged than anything Trump could imagine.

With DHCR you would have to make a complaint, but unless you're making an overcharge complaint, you might not have legal standing. The problem is that you're no longer in occupancy.

You should probably get a consultation with a tenant attorney to look at possible options - what you describe probably falls under constructive eviction.
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Re: Broker not licensed

Postby LaurenL77777 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:55 pm

Thank you for your reply! I actually did consult a tenant lawyer. She advised me to go get the rent history from DHCR, which I have. From what I can tell (which may not be enough) there is no overcharge. The highest increase in legal rent was 16.25% between 2013 and 2014 (for a vacancy lease). That was the highest increase allowed for that year. There are huge increases in preferential rent (40% that same year 2013-2014 for the vacancy lease) - but as far as I undertand that is legal....makes me wonder why rent stabilization even matters....
My attorney did mention constructive eviction. I think that I probably have a case, but I am hesitant because I know bedbug cases are very difficult to win. It would also require a lot more time and money on my part (I haven't sent the rent history to my attorney because I don't want to be billed for her time.)
That's why I want to go after the realtor. While I know she is not responsible for the apartment, she did break the law by collecting a broker's fee when she was not licensed.
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