- Tenants represented by HMGJ at an upper west side building have just won a case at the Appellate Division.
In 2014 the DHCR issued a decision freezing the rent and preventing any rent increases, including one for a major capital improvement, based on defects in 26 hallway windows throughout the building. The DHCR, and now the Appellate Division, have rejected the landlord’s defenses and ruled that rents will remain frozen until the windows are finally repaired.
- HMGJ Recovers Over $8 Million In Rent Refunds, A Waiver Of MCI Charges And Forgiveness Of 10 Years Of Rent Increases In Historic J51 Class Action Settlement
HMGJ has recovered over $8 million in rent refunds, a waiver of MCI charges, and forgiveness of any possible rent increases over the past 10 years as part of a J-51 class action settlement for current and past tenants of an Upper East Side building. The agreement, approved by New York State Supreme Court last week, is one of the largest class action settlements in a J-51 overcharge case since the 2009 Roberts decision. The $8 million will be distributed among 327 past and current tenants of the Clermont, located at 442 East 82nd Street. The settlement guarantees permanent rent stabilized status for class members. The tenant class is represented by William Gribben and Ron Languedoc of HMGJ, and by Matt Brinckerhoff of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP.
- Upper West Side Tenants Win Ruling Over Smaller Storage Bins
Upper West Side tenants had their storage rooms taken away and replaced by storage bins that were % smaller. DHCR ruled that the change was a reduction in services and reduced the rents for rent controlled tenants and rolled back and froze the rents for rent-stabilized tenants.
- Widow Wins Appeal of Mitchell-Lama Apartment Denial
The widow of a veteran was on the waiting list for a Mitchell-Lama apartment. Her number came up and she was offered an apartment. She was given a certain priority because her husband had been a veteran. However, due to an error, her name was not listed on her husband’s death certificate. Even though she had the death certificate amended and provided other proof of her identity, the housing company still denied her the apartment. HMGJ filed an appeal with DHCR on her behalf and DHCR ruled in her favor, ordering the housing company to restore her to the waiting list in the position she would have been in had she not been denied.
- Tenants Beat $48/Room MCI Rent Increase
After six years of litigation rent-stabilized tenants in an Upper West Side building beat a $48.00 per room MCI rent increase for a new roof and exterior restoration. The DHCR had initially granted the rent increase in 2013. HMGJ filed an appeal (“PAR”) on behalf of the Tenants Association and four years later the DHCR issued an order granting the PAR and revoking the rent increase. The Tenants Association had retained an engineer which found the work incomplete and the DHCR conducted its own inspection at the PAR level, confirming those findings.
- Rent Stabilization, Lower Rent and Overcharge Refund
Tenant who moved into a “market” apartment filed an overcharge complaint claiming the apartment had been unlawfully deregulated. DHCR found that the apartment was rent stabilized and the tenant was entitled to a rent reduction of $1300/month and an overcharge of $137,000.00. Landlord spent over three years pursuing various appeals and the Supreme Court upheld the decision on a Article 78.
- DHCR Sees the (Some of) the Light
Landlord took away two of rent stabilized tenant’s skylights that she had for 40 years. HMGJ filed a complaint with the DHCR which ordered one of the skylights restored. An appeal is pending seeking restoration of the other skylight.
- Domestic Abuse Victim Gets out of Lease
Landlord would not let a victim of domestic abuse out of her lease even though she had vacated the apartment where she had resided with her abuser, her husband. HMGJ negotiated with the landlord who finally did let her out of the lease.
- Big Overcharge Award
HMGJ helped a rent stabilized tenant win a rent overcharge of $100,000.
- Eviction Case Avoided
Landlord threatened tenant with eviction for allegedly installing new floors. HMGJ got landlord to drop the case.
- Rent Roll Back
HMGJ filed an application for a rent reduction based upon various building-wide reductions in services for rent stabilized tenants at a building in Murray Hill. The DHCR found that the hallway carpets were worn, torn and frayed, that the men’s shower in the gym was out of order and that the laundry room floors were dirty and stained. The DHCR rolled back and froze the rents until the landlord restores the services.
- Chelsea Hotel Tenants Win Abatements, No Rent Increases, Legal Fees
On September 27, 2013, the Chelsea Tenants’ Association, represented by Janet Ray Kalson and Sam Himmelstein, reached a groundbreaking comprehensive settlement of the tenants’ two year court battle with the prior ownership in response to a construction fusillade endangering the health, safety and welfare of the tenants.
The settlement provided for a 100% rent abatement for 4.7 months, a 20 percent rent abatement until such time as construction at the hotel is completed, free temporary relocations during renovations in tenants’ apartments with a $60 per day meal allotment per person, completely upgraded apartments (heat, air conditioning, electric, windows, doors etc.), no rent increases for renovations (no MCIs a/k/a/major capital improvements), and the payment of the tenants’ legal fees of $100,000.
- Small Leak, Big Case
A small leak developed in the closet ceiling of apartment 15L. The Coop’s engineer’s opinion was that it was caused by a leak from the bathroom in apartment 16L. The 16L apartment owner retained our firm and an engineer whose opinion was that the leak was not emanating from our client’s bathroom but rather from pipes higher up in the building.
When our client refused to permit the coop’s engineer to break open the walls to her bathroom, the Coop entered her apartment , at a time when they knew she was out of the country, and without her permission and without notice totally demolished her bathroom, removing the shower stall, basin, toilet, walls and floors.
Next stop: court case. The Coop sued, claiming that because the leak came from our client’s apartment they had the right to investigate and abate the leak even if that meant dismantling the bathroom and they were entitled to reimbursement for legal and engineering fees.
After nine days of trial the court dismissed the Coop’s claims, finding that our client did nothing wrong. A motion for reimbursement of our client’s costs and fees is pending.
Note: We have found that disputes between coops and proprietary lessees over access and repair issues develop into battle royals. Emotions, and costs, run high, settlements are difficult to attain and trials are long and hard fought. William J. Gribben represented the shareholders.
- Courts Find Tenants To Be Rent Stabilized
- Former Mitchell-Lama Tenants Not Subject to Market Rents
Thousands of tenants in former “Mitchell-Lama” buildings will be protected from having their rents increased to market levels thanks to a recent decision by the Appellate Division, First Department, Columbus 95 v. DHCR v. Columbus House Tenants Association. The owner of a Columbus House, a former Mitchell-Lama on the Upper West Side applied to the DHCR for rent increases to market rents under the “unique or peculiar” provision of the rent laws. After the application was filed, the DHCR adopted a new code provision which said that having been in the Mitchell-Lama program could not be the sole basis of such increases. The owner challenged the code provision as being contrary to the law. The Supreme Court found that the provision was valid and that the rent laws never authorized such increases and the Appellate Division agreed. HMGJ’s David Hershey-Webb and Serge Joseph represented the Tenants Association.
- Landlord’s $400 a Room MCI Goes up in Smoke, Mostly
The Landlord of a building on West 57th Street applied for a $400 a room MCI in 2004. The MCI included some blatantly ineligible items such as the cost of a smoking room for one of the owners. The Tenants Association retained HMGJ to fight the application and got the rent increase reduced to $130.50 per room, then to $118.75 per room. The Landlord and the Tenants Association both appealed. In October 2010, the Landlord’s appeal was denied and the DHCR granted the Tenants Association appeal in part, further reducing the MCI to $60.32 per room.
- Market Tenant Obtains Big Refund, Lower Rent and Rent-Stabilization Status
A tenant who had been rented an apartment as a “market” tenant while the landlord was receiving a J-51 tax abatement received a substantial refund, a rent-stabilization lease and a lower rent when the parties settled after HMGJ commenced a proceeding in Supreme Court.
- Long-Time Tenant in Mitchell-Lama Co-Op Wins Succession Battle
A man who had lived in a Mitchell-Lama co-op with his mother for 23 years was denied succession rights when his mother vacated. The DHCR upheld the denial on the basis that, although the son had submitted substantial evidence of his co-occupancy with his mother, he did not appear on the last income affidavit before she vacated because no such affidavit was filed. The mother claimed that she did not file income affidavit for two years because of concerns about corruption at the development which led to the conviction of the Housing Assistant. HMGJ filed an Article 78 proceeding on behalf of the son and the Supreme Court reversed the DHCR, granting the right to remain in his home and have a stock certificate issued in his name. See Matter of Murphy v. DHCR under Decisions.
- Tenant Who Temporarily Vacated Her Rent-Stabilized Apartment Due to Fire Does Not Have to Pay 1/40th Rent Increases
The landlord of an Upper West Side building tried to charge 1/40th rent increase to a tenant who had to temporarily vacate her rent-stabilized apartment after a fire. The Rent Stabilization Law allows landlords to pass on 1/40th of the cost of some qualified improvements if a tenant consents in writing or if they are made when the apartment is vacant. The DHCR found that apartment was not “vacant” where the tenant had temporarily vacated due to a fire. The landlord appealed in an Article 78 proceeding. HMGJ represented the tenant and the court upheld the DHCR.