What to do if co-op board is trying to charge me for legal fees not awarded by the court?

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What to do if co-op board is trying to charge me for legal fees not awarded by the court?

I live in a NYC co-op. About 2 years ago I had a dispute with the co-op board, we went to courtbut never to trial. We settled by a series of agreements. The judge refused to award legal fees to either side. However, the co-op board put their legal fees on my maintenance bill. They refuse to take it off or answer my inquiries. It has gotten so that I am not able to figure out my monthly maintenance. I told them so and the managing agent doesn’t answer. If the judge said no legal fees to either side, is this considered contempt of court? Is there anything I can do? I don’t want to sound cliche, but this is deliberate. I hear they were angry that  they didn’t win their case.

Asked on October 4, 2010 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It may or may not be contempt of court, but it is improper. If the judge said they cannot charge you or recover from you the legal fees from that dispute, they cannot due so--and that includes by bundling them into your maintenance fees. If the co-op disagrees and feels they are entitled to the fees (for example: if there's an agreement saying that in the event of a legal dispute, you owe them their legal fees), the proper way for them to attempt to vindicate that would be by appealling the judge's decision (which they should have done promptly; it's likely too late now), not by adding them into your maintenance. Unfortunately, if they refuse to delete the fees and keep trying to collect from you, you may find yourself back in litigation with them, this time about lawyer fees.


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