Bernstein Liebhard LLP Wins Major Victory in the New York State Court of Appeals on Behalf of New York City Tenants

On October 23, 2009, the New York State Court of Appeals, in a majority opinion, ruled in favor of tenants of the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village apartment complexes in Manhattan, holding that their apartments had been illegally destabilized. The decision reinstates a 2007 class action complaint for rent overcharges that had been filed by tenants of the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village rental apartment complexes in Manhattan. The class action complaint, brought on behalf of thousands of affected tenants in the two complexes, asserts that the landlords have for many years illegally charged market rate rents for apartments that should have been rent stabilized under New York City’s Rent Stabilization Law, thereby overcharging each affected tenant thousands of dollars per year.

The core legal issue was whether landlords could permissibly deregulate and charge market rents for certain so-called “luxury” apartment units in these complexes in years in which the landlords were simultaneously receiving tax abatements from New York City known as “J-51” benefits. The Court of Appeals ruled that the New York statutory scheme prevents landlords of rent stabilized buildings from charging market rents while receiving J-51 benefits for as long as they continue to receive those tax benefits.  The case is captioned Roberts v. Tishman Speyer, L.P., et al., N.Y. Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co. Index No. 100956/07.

The Court’s decision is a major victory for all New York City tenants in that the ruling affects landlords across the city who may have also improperly raised rents and deregulated apartments while receiving J-51 benefits or were contemplating doing so.

TISHMAN DECISION AND THE NEW YORK TIMES COVERAGE

A copy of the New York State Court of Appeals’ Decision is available in the The New York Time’s coverage of the case, which can be read here.

TENANTS AT OTHER NEW YORK CITY BUILDINGS MAY HAVE LEGAL CLAIMS – CONTACT BERNSTEIN LIEBHARD TODAY

If you are a tenant in a New York City building and believe that you have been paying market rate rents when you should have been paying rent stabilized rents, complete our online contact form to be contacted by a member of our staff.