D-Day for landlords: High court hears rent overcharge cases

Rulings will determine implementation under the new rent law

New York /
Jan.January 07, 2020 02:40 PM
Housing Rights Initiative's Aaron Carr (Credit: iStock, Facebook)

Housing Rights Initiative’s Aaron Carr (Credit: iStock, Facebook)

ALBANY— State legislators passed a new rent law in June, but many of the details are about to be hashed out in court.

Today, the highest court in the state is hearing five cases involving alleged rent overcharges for rent-stabilized apartments. Landlords face treble damages for rent overcharges, which could mean a huge payday for tenants.

Each of the cases cite a pivotal 2009 Court of Appeals ruling — Roberts v. Tishman Speyer Properties — which found that landlords receiving J-51 tax benefits could not deregulate an apartment when the legal passed a certain threshold and the unit was vacant or occupied by high-income tenants. The decision allowed the state to assess rent overcharges based on the most recent legal regulated rent, even if a significant period of time had elapsed.

The Roberts decision led to a string of legal challenges alleging that landlords deregulated units while reaping J-51 benefits. Many of the cases have been brought by the Housing Rights Initiative, a group headed by Aaron Carr.

The lookback period — the window of time the state can assess treble damages for rent overcharges — was extended to six years from four by the June rent-law overhaul. The Court of Appeals will decide whether that extension also applies to ongoing overcharge cases, which would substantially increase the landlord’s liability.

Attorneys for tenants and landlords noted that the move by the Court of Appeals to hear the five cases in one day and to solicit amicus briefs from the general legal community is very unusual.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Blackstone CEO Steven Schwartzman and Stuyvesant Town (Credit: Getty Images)
After authorities vowed review of Stuy Town deal, Blackstone changes course on vacancies
After authorities vowed review of Stuy Town deal, Blackstone changes course on vacancies
Tete-à-tete with TRD: How landlords are dealing with New York’s new rent laws
Tete-à-tete with TRD: How landlords are dealing with New York’s new rent laws
Tete-à-tete with TRD: How landlords are dealing with New York’s new rent laws
Real Capital Analytics data showed that New York’s multifamily market had a very slow July. (Credit: iStock)
New NYC rent law “beginning to shut down investment”
New NYC rent law “beginning to shut down investment”
City Council has not made any moves to renew J-51 (Getty)
City Council silent as landlords call for J-51 renewal
City Council silent as landlords call for J-51 renewal
Landlord groups say the Housing and Vacancy Survey distorts the vacancy rates in New York City to maintain rent stabilization. (iStock)
Empty numbers: Landlords say vacancy survey distorts truth
Empty numbers: Landlords say vacancy survey distorts truth
John Catsimatidis and 670 Pacific Street (Getty, StreetEasy)
Catsimatidis notches win for landlords in 421a suit; tenants vow to appeal
Catsimatidis notches win for landlords in 421a suit; tenants vow to appeal
Gary Barnett has another problem at UES site: a stabilized tenant
Gary Barnett has another problem at UES site: a stabilized tenant
Gary Barnett has another problem at UES site: a stabilized tenant
RSA President Joe Strasburg (Jefferson Siegel) and Governor Cuomo (Getty)
Landlords ask Cuomo to ditch eviction ban after ending Covid restrictions
Landlords ask Cuomo to ditch eviction ban after ending Covid restrictions
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...