Would this situation be a counterclaim or a different claim? If a landlord sues a tenant for damages done to the apartment. The tenant has been wronged by the landlord because the landlord has unlawfully charged multiple security deposits, and the tenant wants to get his security deposits back.

Is that a counterclaim to the 'damages done' claim? Or is it a whole different claim. I suspect it's a different claim because both issues are not related, but I wanted to get a professional information

Edit: I'm in Brooklyn, New York

3 Answers 3


If it’s a matter between the same party over the same factual circumstances it’s a counterclaim. If it’s between different parties or over different factual circumstances it’s a different claim.


As a general rule, subject to the subject matter jurisdiction of the court considering the case, it is permissible to bring a counterclaim on any matter, whether or not related, between the same parties. But, a counterclaim would not be allowed or mandatory if the court doesn't have subject matter jurisdiction over the counterclaim (although it might be possible to transfer the entire case to a court that does have that jurisdiction).

For example, it would not be permissible to bring a counterclaim seeking a divorce or annulment in an action in New York City Court since jurisdiction over divorces and annulments is limited to the Supreme Court (i.e. the trial court of general jurisdiction) in New York State.

Likewise, you couldn't bring and wouldn't be required to bring a counterclaim for copyright infringement in state court because the federal court has exclusive jurisdiction over copyright claims.

It is mandatory to bring a counterclaim on any related matter, and usually, if both the claim and the defendant's claim arise from a rental of the same apartment by the same person, that would be a mandatory counterclaim.

But, if there were a counterclaim against the landlord arising from an automobile accident many miles away from the rental property, for example, that would be a permissible counterclaim, but not a mandatory one.

When in doubt, the safer course of action is usually to file a counterclaim rather than a separate claim, because if a later court decides that the counterclaim was mandatory, a new lawsuit on the defendant's claim is barred under the doctrine of res judicata.


It will probably depend on the jurisdiction, but in England and Wales, it would be a counter-claim. Many of the facts of the case that the court will need to hear evidence on, will be the same - it is more efficient to hear both cases together. In particular, how much damage has the tenant done? and how much money has the tenant paid in deposits? If the damage is more than the deposits, the tenant owes the landlord money; if less, the landlord owes the tenant.

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