Rent Stabilization Archives

Class Action Law Suits and Tenants Rights

Class Action law suits allow claims to be brought on behalf of many people who have been adversely affected by the actions of the defendant. Often times the individual claims are small but in the aggregate can be huge. For example, a credit card company that charged a fraction of a percent more than allowed by law may owe one million customers $10 each. Not enough for any individual to sue but as a class of one million, another matter altogether.

Court Finds Building Rent-Stabilized Although Currently Has Less Than Six Units

On November 21, 2012, a Civil Court Judge in Brooklyn issued a ruling in favor of the tenants in Chun v. Raywood. At issue in the case was whether a duplex apartment in a brownstone, renting for over $2,500 per month, was subject to rent stabilization. The Court determined that the apartment was rent stabilized because: (1) the building had seven units until the 1980's, when it was converted to a four-unit building, and (2) the apartment was owner-occupied for several years before being rented to the tenants. Generally a building must have a minimum of six units for the apartments to be rent stabilized, but the rule is that when the number of units was above six on the effective date of the law, a reduction in the number of units does not affect their stabilized status. Also, the practice of "high rent/vacancy deregulation" does not apply to an apartment that was owner-occupied immediately before it is rented to a new tenant. The Court's decision was published in the New York Law Journal.

Horizontal Multiple Dwellings (HMD) or When Two Buildings Are One

In order for an apartment to be subject to rent stabilization, along with a number of other criteria, it must be located in a building that contains six or more apartments.

Two Recent Decisions: Courts Find Tenants To Be Rent Stabilized

Landlords will often rent apartments to tenants claiming that they are not rent stabilized when in fact they are. In two recent cases, the Housing Court found for the tenants. Ron Languedoc represented the tenant in Raywood. Sam Himmelstein and Ron Languedoc represented the tenant in Shomron.

Rights of Rent Regulated Tenants Whose Apartments Have Been Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

If my apartment was damaged do I have to pay the full rent? NO. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may be entitled to a rent "abatement" or reduction of the rent that you were required to pay. Under New York law the landlord must provide you with a habitable apartment. It does not matter if the damage to your apartment was not the fault of the landlord. This is called the "Warranty of Habitability." In order to get a reduction in your rent, unless the landlord is willing to reduce your rent voluntarily, you have two options, one requiring going to housing court. To get a rent abatement through housing court you will have to withhold all or part of your rent. The landlord will then bring a proceeding in housing court to evict you for not paying your rent. When your serve your "Answer" to the court proceeding, you will list as a defense that there are repairs that have to be done. You will also list as a "counterclaim" that you are entitled to an abatement of your rent. You will have to prove to the court that there is damage to your apartment and that the landlord had notice of the damage. It is always better to have an attorney if you go to housing court. But even without an attorney you could get an abatement of your rent.

You May Be Rent Regulated and Not Know It

In the frenzied rush to rent an apartment in NYC, tenants often rely solely on the representations of brokers, managing agents, and landlords about the type of building they are about to rent. Many of today's tenants assume they are "deregulated" tenants, or tenants not subject to rent control or rent stabilization, and landlords do nothing to disabuse a tenant of the assumption, perhaps relying on a murky history that the tenant's apartment was deregulated because it was used for professional reasons or rented by an owner in the past. Don't assume your apartment is deregulated without checking because there are significant benefits to being a rent regulated tenant, including reasonable rent increases and generally, life-time tenure in the apartment.

US Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Rent Laws

Last week the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to New York's rent stabilization laws, Harmon v. Kimmel, brought by an Upper West Side landlord.  In the case landlord James Harmon argued that the rent laws amounted to a "taking" of property in violation of the U.S. Constitution because he is unable to evict without cause the tenants in his brownstone.  Although the law has long been settled in this area, there was some concern given the willingness of the current Supreme Court to reconsider and reverse long-term precedents.  New York City and New York State submitted briefs defending the rent laws based upon longstanding precedent. The real estate community blanketed the court with "amicus" briefs which apparently did not sway the justices.  The real estate community also organized a media blitz resulting in many news articles about the alleged "unfairness" of the rent laws. Tenants must remain ever vigilant and organized to preserve the rent laws which the real estate industry will continue to attack on legal, political and media fronts as long as there are bigger profits to be made.   

Succession Rights: A Harsh New Landscape For Tenants And Their Families-Part I

Over the years, I have successfully represented many clients in succession cases. In the past, succession rights cases were straightforward and simple. Generally, a practitioner would look at three (3) factors: (a) first, the date the tenant of record left or vacated the premises; (b) second, whether the person asserting succession rights and the tenant of record had a close traditional or "Braschi1" family relationship; and (c) third, whether the putative successor resided with the tenant of record for at least two years prior to the date the latter left or vacated. Succession was almost guaranteed to a remainder family member who could prove these three factors.

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