One the most important cases in New York landlord-tenant law over the past few years has been the Court of Appeals’ ruling in Roberts v. Tishman-Speyer, LP, which found that all apartments in buildings receiving a “J-51 tax abatement” from the city were rent-stabilized. For years, apartments with rents over $2000 per month had been routinely deregulated and subject to market-rate rents. The Court of Appeals put an abrupt stop to that practice in 2009 and, suddenly, tens of thousands of “market” apartments were again subject to rent stabilization.
Perhaps the most vexing issue for tenants coming out of the Roberts case was how to calculate the legal rents given what, in some cases, was a decade or more of market rents. The Appellate Division, First Department, just resolved that issue in 72A Realty Aaaoc. v. Lucas, a resounding victory for tenants.
In Lucas, the court ruled that the legal rent should be based on the last legal regulated rent under rent stabilization. The import of this ruling is that tenants can now rely on rents charged long before the usual four-year statute of limitations. This is going to mean much lower rents and much larger overcharge awards for tenants of J-51 buildings.
To determine if your building is in receipt of J-51 tax benefits, you will need to find your building’s tax block and lot number and then use the NYC online form. If you think you may have been overcharged, contact David today at 212.285.1300.