1250 Broadway, 27th Floor New York, NY 10001



Serge M. Jean filed a small-claims case seeking to recover monies paid to Victoria Stennet, his real-estate broker and former landlord.

Jean claimed that he had paid $500 to replace the home’s hot-water heater, and had wrongfully been asked to pay a $2400 broker’s fee. And after he was awarded $2900 by the Kings County Civil Court, an appeal to the Appellate Term, Second Department, followed.

Since the $500 charge wasn’t contested, the AT2’s focus was on the propriety of the broker’s fee and whether the owner -- a licensed broker -- was legally entitled to collect same. And after reviewing the governing law, it concluded that Stennet had failed to provide the required written disclosures.

The appellate court noted, in pertinent part, as follows:

“…. [T]he law requires that a disclosure statement, in the form set forth in Real Property Law § 443 (4) (b), be provided to the tenant before entering into an agreement (see Real Property Law § 443 [3] [b], [c]). The tenant must either sign the form acknowledging its receipt or, upon the tenant's refusal to sign, "the agent shall set forth under oath or affirmation a written declaration of the facts of refusal" (Real Property Law § 443 [3] [e]). The failure to comply with the statutory disclosure form requirement gives rise to, among other things, a private cause of action by the aggrieved party to recover "a penalty of not less than the amount of money received by [the agent] as [a] commission . . . and not more than four times the sum so received" (Real Property Law § 442-e [3]).” {Emphasis added.]

Clearly, Stennet was lucky she wasn’t zonked for a whole lot more …..

(Guess you could say her fee wasn't absolute ....)

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Jean v. Stennet