This landlord is suing to undo New York’s new rent law. But its tenants just won a key victory.

Residents accuse the Mycak family of J-51 violations at a building in Astoria
By Eddie Small | July 24, 2019 05:00PM

A J-51 lawsuit against the Mycak family has been granted class action status. (Credit: iStock)

A J-51 lawsuit against the Mycak family has been granted class action status. (Credit: iStock)

One of the landlords trying to dismantle the new rent law through the federal courts system was just handed a procedural loss in New York Supreme Court.

A pair of tenants at 28-30 34th Street in Astoria had sued the Mycak family’s company Vermyck LLC last year over accusations of violating the J-51 program by not giving them a rent-stabilized lease when they moved into the building.

On Wednesday, New York Supreme Court Judge Richard Latin granted the lawsuit class action status and designated one of the original plaintiffs, Jacobus Gomes, to be the class representative. The class will consist of all tenants who live or lived in apartments that were deregulated while the owners were still receiving J-51 tax benefits on the property, according to court documents.

“This decision sends a clear message that the court will not tolerate any more of this landlord’s nonsense, and we’re pleased that these tenants are one step closer to receiving the relief to which they are rightfully entitled: rent stabilized leases and hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent refunds,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Lucas Ferrara said in a statement.

Richard Walsh, attorney for the Mycaks, said this decision “does not mean the plaintiffs are correct” and that the court “never addressed our argument that the default formula was also a penalty and the plaintiffs had to waive it to achieve class action status.”

The Mycaks, Katz Realty Group and Constance Nugent-Miller are the three landlords suing New York City and a state agency over the strict new rent laws the state passed in June. They claim it violates the Constitution’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

An investigation by the Housing Rights Initiative led to the lawsuit.

“It’s highly ironic that the landlord accused of flouting the old rent laws is now suing to challenge the new ones,” HRI executive director Aaron Carr said in a statement. “This victory couldn’t be more timely.”

The Rent Stabilization Association and the Community Housing Improvement Program are spearheading the suit. RSA president Joe Strasburg previously told The Real Deal he was not bothered that the Mycaks were both a plaintiff in a lawsuit over the new rent laws and a defendant in a lawsuit over the old rent laws.

“Everyone’s going to get sued and get a story. Everyone has violations,” he said. “No one walks in who’s a purist, however anyone wants to define it.”

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