So you entered into a Stipulation at Landlord Tenant Court in New York….
The latest from our guest blogger, Jordan Schiller, Esq.
Can you vacate an ill-advised stipulation from Landlord/Tenant court in New York, entered into without counsel?
Let’s admit it, lawyers can be costly. For this reason, many landlords and tenants will forego counsel in New York and seek to handle their dispute in court pro-se, on their own.
Pro-se litigants will conference their case before a court attorney and have a Judge review their agreement before signing off on it. Once a Judge signs a stipulation of settlement, the parties are bound by its terms.
NYC Landlord/tenant law is a very technical and highly specialized area of law. More often than not, tenants have valid defenses to a housing court proceeding. I’ve seen it too many times where a tenant unknowingly or mistakenly waives these defenses simply by signing a stipulation of settlement, without the benefit of counsel to advise them not to. Either the tenant is living in an illegal multiple dwelling, is a Section 8 recipient where NYCHA was not named as a party or the landlord has waited years before bringing a non-payment action in court. All of these scenarios present various defenses for a tenant to negotiate a settlement, or even dismiss the case outright.
Under limited circumstances, namely fraud, duress or mistake, the court may, in its discretion vacate an inequitable and ill-advised stipulation of settlement entered into between a pro-se tenant and a landlord. It is highly recommended to contact a lawyer that specializes in landlord-tenant matters before attempting to do it on your own.
Moral of the story: the money spent on a lawyer from the get-go will save you the expense and headache of trying to undo something that shouldn’t have been done in the first place.