KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE

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can alarm co pursue collection of contract claimed to be illegal
December 12, 2018
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can alarm co pursue collection of contract claimed to be illegal 
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Ken,
            We recently were contracted by a large real estate company to install a new Fire Alarm system in one of their properties in NYC that they were renovating. The building previously had a Fire Alarm installed and it was old and could not be modified to accommodate the changes needed. The old system was monitored by a NYC Fire Alarm company and was under contract with them for 3 more years.
            When we installed the new alarm we also took over the monitoring as well and the old Fire Alarm Company is trying to hold the subscriber to the term of the old contract.   The old Fire Alarm was never filed with NYC or approved and therefore illegal as far as the FDNY is concerned (in my opinion).                  
            My question to you can the old alarm company hold the subscriber to a monitoring contract for an illegal Fire Alarm that should have never been monitored in the first place?
Wayne
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Response
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            Maybe.  How’s that for hedging my bets.  You make quite a few assumptions and they may not be accurate.  For starters, you refer to the fire alarm system as illegal.  What you mean is that the Building Department and the Fire Department probably have not approved the fire alarm system and there is no CO for the building with that fire alarm system indicated.  So it’s a building violation for sure, but not sure it’s a crime.
            An approved fire alarm system is required in commercial premises in order to get a Certificate of Occupancy.  But that is not the alarm company’s responsibility unless that responsibility is assumed by contract.  It’s the building owner who gets the fine [though an alarm company can be issued a violation, which is criminal in nature, if caught on the job without a permit.  
            But what if the alarm company contract is a Fire All in One and all of the appropriate boxes are checked that the fire alarm system is not to code, that the alarm company has no duty to install it to code, that the alarm company is contracting to monitor a fire alarm system that is not to code?  I am not clear what law is being broken by monitoring the owner’s fire alarm system.  One thing is clear to me:  it would be wise to use the Fire All in One in NYC and elsewhere for all commercial fire alarm services.
            The general rule of law is that you cannot enforce an illegal contract.  That’s why we have no lawsuits to enforce gambling debts in New York.  There are plenty of those cases in Nevada.  
             ‚ÄčThis is a tricky question.  I may have to call upon brighter minds than mine, and there are plenty who think they fit that bill.  Robert, are you out there?  Others are welcome to respond as well.  I won’t hold it against you if you have the right answer.
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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
516 747 6700
www.KirschenbaumEsq.com