Can a signed document make you liable for the defendant’s attorney fees?

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Can a signed document make you liable for the defendant’s attorney fees?

We signed a broker’s fee agreement for an apartment that was misrepresented to us, and have since managed to rescind our lease. We intend to go to small claims court to get the broker’s fee back, but we had originally signed a document stating: “Once the landlord has accepted the applicant, X’s commission is earned. This agreement supersedes any written or oral contract, which may be made by landlord, tenant, and X… If legal has to be taken to collect the above stated commission or any balance thereof, then in addition the undersigned will be liable for attorney’s fee.”

Asked on September 27, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If there was a voluntary "rescission" of the lease that you entered into with the landlord where the landlord agreed that its terms were not to be enforced as the result of misrepresentation, hopefully you have a written agreement to that effect signed by the landlord. If you do, then as a matter of law, the "rescission" of the lease means that you never entered into it.

If you never entered into the lease and you had to pay real estate commissions for the elase out of your pocket, the landlord should be responsible for paying you back this amount, not the real estate agent. The only way the real estate agent would be responsible to you for the refund of your commissions paid is if he or she misrepresented matters to you regarding the rental.


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