Top New York court upholds suits from overcharged tenants

Cases involve landlords who took units off rent control

Jonathan Lippman and Robert Smith
Jonathan Lippman and Robert Smith

The New York State Court of Appeals upheld three class-action lawsuits from tenants seeking to recover overcharges on apartments in the city.

In a 4-2 vote, the state’s top court ruled that tenants can file lawsuits if they were overcharged by New York City landlords who lifted rent control on units while continuing to receive tax breaks. The size of the plaintiff groups in the class-action lawsuits range from 53 to roughly 500 tenants.

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Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman wrote that the class-action suits should be upheld because customer overcharges do not count as penalties, the Associated Press reported. The statute bars class-action suits from recovering penalties, Judge Robert Smith noted in his dissent.

The New York Court of Appeals found in 2009 that apartments at Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village had been removed improperly from rent stabilization while receiving the tax benefits, which are provided as incentives for upgrading residential properties, as reported. [AP via Crain’s]Mark Maurer