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GoLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 753
Experience:  Attorney with eight years of experience in business law and landlord-tenant law.
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I have counterclaims in a landlord - tenant eviction case.

Resolved Question:

I have counterclaims in a landlord - tenant eviction case. It is in a town court in New York State. ( NOT New York City) The lawyer for the Petitioner is claiming I am limited to $3,000 because it is a town court. I know there is no limit in landlord- tenant matters, but where is the law for that?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  GoLaw replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. Please keep in mind that this is a public forum and information posted here is not confidential.

You are partially right. The jurisdiction of town courts is unlimited in summary proceedings, but only in regard to back rent due and owing. The Uniform Justice Court Act provides, in relevant part as follows:

§ 204. Summary proceedings.
The court shall have jurisdiction of summary proceedings to recover
possession of real property located in whole or in part within the
municipality, to remove tenants therefrom, and to render judgment for
rent due without regard to amount.

However, counterclaims are not exempt from the regular jurisdictional limit.

While usually a counterclaim against a landlord would be waived if not brought, when a summary proceeding is brought in Justice Court, a party is not precluded from commencing another action arising out of the lease. Real Property Actions and Proceedings law provides as follows:

§ 747. Judgment.
2. The judgment shall not bar an action to recover the possession of
real property. The judgment shall not bar an action, proceeding or
counterclaim, commenced or interposed within sixty days of entry of the
judgment, for affirmative equitable relief which was not sought by
counterclaim in the proceeding because of the limited jurisdiction of
the court.

To the extent that a counterclaim is used to set off back rent, however, it can be raised. An example would be if the landlord was supposed to pay utilities, but did not and the tenant had to pay.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I did file the counterclaims in time, but they include 7 counterclaims against landlord which each exceed $3000. (Breach of Contract, Breach of Warranty of Habitability, Breach of Landlord Duty of Repairs, Retaliatory Eviction, Breach of Heat during heating season, and Breach in Continuation of Utility Services) Are you saying that I can only collect a maximum of $3000? That is less than it cost me to turn the electric back on, and far less than I have paid monthly for landlord responsibilities.My expenses to keep this place running during tand after the foreclosure more than covers all the pre-paid one year rent.
Article 2 Sec 208 allows counterclaims up to $3,000---is that for each claim? Please give section of the law as the attorney for the plaintiff is claiming that it is a total of $3,000 for all lawsuits, not per lawsuit.
Expert:  GoLaw replied 5 years ago.
No. You can't bring a counterclaim that exceeds the jurisdictional limit in town justice court unless it is a set off against the amount of rent owed. It would be a direct set off. The time limit referred to in 747(2) is the time to bring a separate action asserting those counterclaims. Usually, you would be barred from bringing a separate action for damages resulting from the same transaction (i.e. the lease relationship), but because of the limited jurisdiction of the town court, you can within 60 days of the judgment.
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