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Honorable Judge Bruce Kramer announcement

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On October 22, 2009, the New York State Court of Appeals decided the case of Roberts, et al v. Tishman Speyer Properties, L.P.  In Roberts. the Court of Appeals put an end to landlords’ industry-wide practice of deregulating rent stabilized apartments using high rent vacancy and high rent/high income deregulation in buildings receiving New York City’s J-51 tax abatement/exemption benefits.  In Roberts, some 4,000 apartment units were wrongfully deregulated – as a result of the decision, those apartments will return to rent stabilization.

All “market rate” tenants are well advised to find out whether the building in which they live has received or is receiving J-51 tax benefits at any time during their tenancy.  If so, there is a very good chance that their apartment has been unlawfully deregulated.


Vacancy deregulation, where a vacant apartment with a monthly legal rent of $2,000.00 or more becomes exempt from rent stabilization, has been a vehicle for the loss of thousands upon thousands of rent stabilized New York City apartments.  However, in housing cases litigated by this firm, nearly sixty percent (60%) of the apartments that the landlords claim are “market rent” have been wrongfully and/or fraudulently deregulated.  All “market rate” tenants are well advised to check the registration history of their apartments and consult with an attorney to determine whether their apartments may have been wrongfully deregulated.


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If your apartment has been wrongfully deregulated, your apartment can be returned to the protections of rent stabilization.  Your rent may be lowered substantially, and your lease subject to unlimited renewals, at your option, with rent increases governed by the Rent Guidelines Board.  You may be entitled to awards for overcharges, treble damages, interest and attorney’s fees.


There are three primary avenues that you may take to secure your rights: 1) a complaint filed with DHCR, 2) an action brought in Supreme Court, or 3) a Housing Court nonpayment proceeding brought by the landlord after you withhold rent, or a holdover proceeding after your “market rate” lease has expired, or your month-to-month tenancy has been terminated. 


Each avenue has advantages and disadvantages and each avenue has different costs involved.  We strongly urge you to gather as much information as possible about your apartment and the building in which you live and consult with a competent tenant attorney to ascertain your rights and determine which avenue is best for you.


We also strongly recommend that you take action immediately.  There is a four year statute of limitation on claims for rent overcharge, and the courts and DHCR are generally prohibited from examining the rental history of an apartment more than four years prior to the time that you file your claim.  While there are exceptions to that rule, you run the risk that your rent will be immune from challenge, or you can lose the ability to look back to a much lower stabilized rent in the registration history for your apartment if you wait to file your claim.


Whether you contact our firm for consultation, select another tenant law firm or gather the information yourself and attend one of the many housing clinics available in New York City, it is imperative that you ascertain and protect your rights promptly.


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Flyer for NYC Tenant Rights Housing Clinic

Please click here to display a PDF of the above flyer for printing.

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