Harlem’s Lenox Terrace owners accused of illegal rent deregulation

Tenants at Harlem’s Lenox Terrace — at 132nd through 135th streets between Lenox and Fifth avenues — have accused their landlord of illegally deregulating rents at the six-building complex while receiving J-51 tax breaks from the city, in a suit with strong echoes of last year’s tenant-led lawsuit at Stuyvesant Town. The landlord, a partnership led by the Olnick Organization, could owe anywhere from $400,000 to $6 million in rent overcharges, according to David Hersey-Webb, an attorney with Himmelstein McConnell Gribben Donoghue & Joseph, which filed the suit with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. The two firms also filed a similar suit in November against the landlord at Chelsea’s London Terrace. Tenants in the estimated 200 to 300 apartments affected stand to gain $2,000 to $30,000 from a favorable ruling, Hershey-Webb said. Two of the buildings are still receiving the J-51 tax abatement, which expire in the other four buildings in 2008. Lenox Terrace counts Governor David Paterson and Congressman Charles Rangel as residents, though Rangel’s apartments are thought to still be rent-stabilized, and thus not affected by the suit. [Crain’s]

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