Tenants at 2 Pierrepont Street, a Brooklyn Heights rental building, filed a lawsuit against billionaire businessman Vincent Viola last summer, alleging he flouted rent-stabilization laws. Now, a judge has denied Viola’s motion to dismiss the suit.
Kings County Supreme Court Judge Karen Rothenberg ruled that the lawsuit can proceed, Crain’s reported. Attorneys for Viola, the founder of Virtu Financial and the owner of the Florida Panthers, unsuccessfully argued that because the building was renovated, it should be exempt from rent laws.
Tenants filed suit against the ownership entity for the building, 2 Pierrepont Street LLC, last June, alleging that they were given market-rate leases when they should have received rent-stabilized ones. They’re seeking financial redress for being charged higher rent than they claim was legally permissible.
The building had a temporary exemption from New York’s rent-stabilization laws when it was used by Brooklyn Law School for student housing. The lawsuit alleges that the exemption ended once the school sold the building to Viola in 2015. Viola began renting units in 2019, according to the lawsuit.
Nine tenants have signed the lawsuit, alleging that the landlord overcharged them for rent.
Viola’s connection to the neighborhood goes beyond his role as a landlord: In January, he sold a townhouse at 8 Montague Terrace for $25.5 million, making it the priciest residential deal ever recorded in the borough.
[Crain’s] — Keith Larsen