Tenants demand judge set rents at tax-abated Manhattan building

Residents want court to intervene in 421g case against Kibel, Izaki

Feb.February 14, 2020 05:59 PM
90 West Street tenants want the court to force their landlords to abide by rent regulation (Credit: iStock, 90 West)

90 West Street tenants want the court to force their landlords to abide by rent regulation (Credit: iStock, 90 West)

Last June, the state’s highest court ruled that apartments in a Lower Manhattan building had been wrongly removed from rent regulation. Seven months later, some tenants say they still don’t have rent-stabilized leases.

But they do have a lawyer. And now they are asking the court to ensure the landlord at 90 West Street reinstates the proper rents.

The 400-plus-unit property, which is owned by entities tied to Izaki Group and the Kibel Company, was one of three buildings involved in a broader case involving the 421g tax break. The Court of Appeals ruled in June that all apartments at 90 West Street, 50 Murray Street and 53 Park Place should have been rent-stabilized during the entire time the properties were receiving the tax break.

In the latest case, resident Laurie Romo is seeking class-action status for tenants who did not receive rent-stabilized leases. Because she and other tenants didn’t receive 421g lease riders, according to the lawsuit, they are entitled to rent-stabilized leases for the duration of their stay in the building.

The lawsuit claims the owners did not register the apartments with the state’s Division of Homes and Community Renewal, and their failure to follow rent regulations renders the landlords’ rent history “unreliable.”

The complaint alleges that the owners tried to get around New York’s rent regulations “at the expense of the tenants residing at the building.”

“There’s no putting the lid on this: Kibel continues to violate the rent laws and will now be held to account for its wrongdoing,” Lucas Ferrara, a partner at Newman Ferrara and adjunct professor at New York Law School, said in a statement.

Representatives for Izaki and Kibel declined to comment.

The lawsuit seeks to have the court appoint an independent party to audit the apartments and amend the tenants’ leases so that they reflect the legal regulated rents.

Similar lawsuits have surfaced in recent months. In October, two tenants of 10 Hanover Square filed a lawsuit against their landlord UDR Inc., alleging that the company violated the 421g program by not providing them with rent-stabilized leases. Following passage of New York’s new rent law, there has also been an uptick in rent overcharge cases. In such cases, landlords are now exposed to treble damages, with a six-year lookback.

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