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Prestia Realty, Inc. v. Hartz Mountain Industries, Inc.

303 N.J. Super. 140, 696 A.2d 95 (App. Div. 1997)

BROKERS; COMMISSIONS—A real estate broker need only be licensed at the time brokerage services were rendered, not when the commission is to be paid.

In 1990, a broker performed services in connection with a lease agreement for a landlord. Under the terms of the brokerage agreement the broker was entitled to an initial real estate commission and an additional commission upon renewal of the lease. In 1995, the broker learned the lease had been renewed however it had not received its additional commission. By the time of renewal, the broker’s real estate license had expired. The broker brought suit claiming a right to commissions, but the landlord successfully claimed that the expiration of the broker’s real estate license prevented the broker from succeeding.

The Appellate Division reversed, interpreting the law to mean that a real estate broker need be licensed only at the time brokerage services were rendered, not when the commission is to be paid. The Appellate Division reasoned that there is more than one interpretation of when the cause of action arose. The cause of action could arise when the brokerage services were fully performed, or at the time of renewal, or even at the time when the demand for commission was denied by the landlord. The Court looked to the legislative intent in determining that the cause of action arose when the brokerage services were fully performed, subject only to the future renewal of the lease. [Note: Certification has been denied.]


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