The Daily Dirt: Rent overcharge cases on the rise

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

TRD New York /
Jan.January 14, 2020 11:00 AM
Rent overcharge claims against New York landlords are on the rise (Credit: iStock)

Rent overcharge claims against New York landlords are on the rise (Credit: iStock)

It’s been seven months since New York’s rent stabilization laws changed, and the rent overcharge cases are rolling in.

Many attorneys and landlords predicted an uptick in overcharge cases in the years following the passage of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. So far, they appear to be right.

According to an analysis by Georgia Kromrei and Mary Diduch, at least a dozen such lawsuits have been initiated since June. The new rent law expanded the statute of limitations for overcharge claims to six years from four and also stipulated that courts could review all available rent history deemed “reasonably necessary” to deliberate on such cases. Crucially, tenants can now collect three times the amount of rent overcharged for six years prior to filing a complaint.

Anecdotally, attorneys seem to be seeing more overcharge cases in the law’s wake. But landlords and tenants are also closely watching the New York Court of Appeals. The court is expected to decide whether or not the 2019 rent law should apply to cases that were pending at the time of its passage — and perhaps even to settled cases.

“It would open up the floodgates and instigate countless further litigation with potentially massive exposure,” said Nativ Winiarsky of Kucker Marino Winiarsky & Bittens. “It would be calamitous.”

Manhattan’s luxury home market is having a lousy 2020 so far.

According to Olshan Realty, only 19 luxury contracts were inked during the first two weeks of January. That’s the fewest seen to begin a year since 2012, Sylvia Varnham O’Regan reports.

The priciest contract last week was for Joseph Chetrit’s brownstone at 118 East 76th Street, which had an asking price of $39 million.

During the first two weeks of 2014 and 2017, 50 contracts for homes with asking prices of at least $4 million were signed. And now, 19? Ouch. Still, it’s early. We’ll see if the market picks up in the coming weeks.

What we’re thinking about: If built, what will the wall at Hudson Yards look like? Send a note to [email protected].


Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Monday was for a townhouse at 311 West Fourth Street in the West Village at $12.3 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an apartment building at 122-20 Ocean Promenade in Belle Harbor, at $14.5 million.


The largest new building filing of the day was for three residential buildings at 22-26 Huntington Street in Red Hook, each of which spans 9,514 square feet. RJ Capital Holdings filed the permit application.


The priciest residential listing to hit the market Monday was for a condo unit at 39 Lispenard Street in Tribeca, at $11 million. Brown Harris Stevens’ John Edwards has the permit application.

A thing we’ve learned…

Ashkenazy Acquisition owned a big shopping center in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor but defaulted on the loan last June. At the time, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge appointed a receiver to oversee the retail pavilions, according to the Baltimore Sun. Thank you to Kevin Sun for providing this tidbit.

Elsewhere in New York

— The owner of McSorley’s Old Ale House, purveyor of light and dark beer, died Saturday, The New York Daily News reports. Matty Maher, who bought the bar in 1977, died of lung cancer. He was 80. The bar will reportedly remain in the family and continue to run in the same fashion it has “since the doors first opened in 1854.”

— The most frequently borrowed book from the New York Public Library System was the 1962 picture book, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Gothamist reports. The title has been checked out 485,583 times.

— Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins appointed three people to the state’s Climate Action Council, Politico New York reports. She tapped Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York; Raya Salter, an attorney with NY Renews; and Dennis Elsenbeck, a Buffalo-based energy consultant with Phillips Lytle LLP.

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