spacer
spacer
Share |
 

NRJ Realty and Norman Jemal v. Korsak et al

NRJ Realty and Norman Jemal v. Korsak et al — Decided 8/14/18. In this matter, both the Appellate Division and the trial court found that the plaintiffs’ failure to strictly comply with the terms of the consent judgment warranted the consent order to be vacated. The Appellate Division deferred to the trial court’s determination and agreed that plaintiffs’ substantial compliance with the consent order was not sufficient.

This case arose from an eviction based on nonpayment of rent. Defendants did not pay plaintiffs rent for three months due to habitability issues. The rent was 3500/month, and tenants were responsible for all utilities. Plaintiffs filed an eviction based on nonpayment of rent for failure to pay $9636.20 for rent, late fees, sewer charges, code violations, and municipal court fines.

On the trial date, the parties entered into a consent judgment. Since the defendants already had vacated the premises, the parties entered into a consent judgment with the following terms: 1) Immediate entry of a judgment for possession; 2) Defendants agreed to pay $7452 by June 6, 2016; 3) Plaintiffs waived any future claims for rent, municipal ordinance violations, late fees and attorney costs; 4) Plaintiff agreed to return security deposit less $1222 for water and sewer charges; 5) $1100 as damages for terminating the lease early; 6) Balance of the security deposit shall be returned in thirty days provided physical damages to not exceed $1500.

After the trial, the plaintiffs provided each defendant with a breakdown of the return of the security deposit. In the letter, the plaintiffs indicated deduction of PayPal charges from the security deposit since the lease allowed the plaintiff to charge tenants for PayPal costs. Defendants disagreed with this deduction as the PayPal charges were not a part of the consent judgment.

The defendants then filed a motion to vacate the consent judgment. They argued that they signed the agreement under duress and that the plaintiff breached the agreement by returning only a portion of the security deposit less the PayPal fees. Even though the trial court found no duress, the court ordered that the plaintiffs return all PayPal Fees deducted from the security deposit, since the agreement was silent as to the PayPal fees.

Plaintiffs did not return the monies as ordered. As a result, the defendants filed a motion to vacate the consent order. The court granted the defendants’ motion due to the plaintiffs’ failure to return the PayPal monies as ordered.

The plaintiffs appealed both orders, arguing that they had substantially complied with the consent order. The Appellate Division deferred to the trial court’s discretion and determination in this case. Similar to the trial court’s analysis in the matter, the Appellate Division examined the terms of the consent judgment closely and found that since the agreement did not specifically address the PayPal fees as a deduction, the plaintiffs erred in deducting those costs. As a result, the Appellate Division upheld the trial court’s decision.