William Cornwell, a retired advertising art director, hired a brokerage firm to a rent out a studio in his West Village townhouse. Then a broker at the firm made him a proposition he found he couldn’t refuse: Why not rent it to me instead?
The result was that Cornwell, 74, signed two handwritten leases on two studios in his Greek revival townhouse, with the agent and the agent’s father, for below market rate and for terms of up to 20 years.
Now Cornwell is in court battling the broker and his firm, charging the leases violated the obligation under state law that a broker represent a client’s interests honestly, fairly and in good faith. In addition, the state is now investigating the transactions.
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