Witkoff fails to meet deadline for Columbus 95 rent hike appeal

August 05, 2011 03:05PM

Landlord Steve Witkoff has failed to meet a deadline to file an appeal to a court decision barring him from increasing rents at Columbus 95, Crain’s reported, meaning that tenants in the rent-regulated apartments are free of rent hikes.

Witkoff had previously attempted to use a legal technicality to increase rents at the building, which was once part of the city’s Mitchell-Lama program.

Following the 2006 acquisition of Columbus 95, which is at 95 West 95th Street, for $68 million, the Witkoff Group applied for rent increases for 248 individual apartments, but the applications sat at the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal for more than a year.

Witkoff argued that the units should not be subject to rent-stabilization laws as leaving Mitchell-Lama was “a unique and peculiar” circumstance that should allow them to raise rents beyond what the laws normally allow.

Late last year, a panel of Appellate Court judges upheld a court ruling that stated landlords could not use their buildings’ status as former Mitchell-Lama properties as a justification for rent hikes.

“This was a major cloud over the apartments that has been lifted,” said Serge Joseph, a lawyer representing tenants in the Upper West Side building. [Crain’s]