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The Unlicensed Real Estate Broker in New York: Beware

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York recently determined that because New York prohibits unlicensed real estate brokers from pursuing payment in its courts for services rendered, a plaintiff who performed real estate work for a client who then did not pay had no standing to sue.

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The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York recently determined that because New York prohibits unlicensed real estate brokers from pursuing payment in its courts for services rendered, a plaintiff who performed real estate work for a client who then did not pay had no standing to sue. In addition, the plaintiff was not able to use the doctrine of quantum meruit to make an end-run around the state’s prohibition on its courts’ providing assistance to unlicensed real estate brokers. Howard Carr Cos. v. Cumberland Farms, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24895. The case highlights the pitfalls of attempting to broker a commercial real estate deal without an official license from the state. When things don’t work out just as agreed, the “broker” will often be left without recourse against a client who has made different plans.

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