The Real Deal New York

Appellate court upholds decision in Carol Cohen rent saga

By Katherine Clarke | December 20, 2012 05:30PM

Brown Harris Stevens broker Carol Cohen, formerly of the Corcoran Group, has triumphed against her landlord in the second round of a legal battle over her rent-stabilized apartment, The Real Deal has learned, bringing an end to the two-year dispute.

The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled today that there was no evidence to substantiate landlord Katz 737’s long-held assertion that Cohen and husband, Lester, had lied about their income on state forms in order to prevent a rent increase at their apartment at 737 Park Avenue.

Katz 737, which is made up of several family members of the late real estate developer and investor Louis Katz, no longer owns 737 Park Avenue, following the purchase of the building last year by Harry Macklowe and Los Angeles-based private equity firm CIM Group.

“The landlord’s fraud allegations, even construed most favorably to the landlord, are wholly speculative, since there are no allegations from which it could reasonably be inferred that the Cohens provided fraudulent income statements,” the appeals court said in its decision.

The initial lawsuit, which led to Cohen’s reported 2010 dismissal from Corcoran, alleged that the couple had hidden their true income “in a manner equivalent to ‘tax evasion’” in order to maintain the apartment, which reportedly costs just $3,060 per month. The plaintiff alleged that, as a leading broker in the sale of luxury apartments, Cohen’s income would have been well above $175,000 over two years.

“Her income from even just a handful of the sales for which she claimed responsibility would, at ‘standard’ brokerage rates, have yielded her income well in excess of the applicable threshold,” the complaint alleged.

However, A State Trial Court sided with Cohen, prompting her landlord to appeal the decision this past February.

While the most recent decision brings the case to at least a temporary conclusion, the landlord could potentially seek leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals, the state’s Highest Court.

An attorney for the landlord declined to comment. Cohen was not immediately available.