Whenever the legislature amends the rent laws one of the first questions is: do the changes apply to pending cases or are those cases decided under the old laws? As to the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the courts have started to weigh in and the answer is the new law applies to pending cases.
In Dugan v London Terrace Gardens LP, 2019 NY Slip Op. 06587 (App.Div. 1st Dep’t), the Appellate Division, First Department, ruled that changes to the rent overcharge rules such as the expanded statute of limitations and methods of calculating overcharges apply to pending cases. This is a boon to tenants with pending claims, as they will, among other things, be able to collect six years of overcharges rather than just four and rely on more favorable methods of calculating overcharges.
Housing Court Judge David Harris also ruled that the new restrictions on “owner’s use” cases likewise apply to pending cases. See Fried v Lopez, 64 Misc.3d 1025 (Civ.Ct. Kings Co. 2019). These are cases where owners seek to recover stabilized apartments for their own use or that of an immediate family member. The owner in this case sought to take over an entire building for his family. Judge Harris, however, ruled that HSTPA’s provision limiting owners to recovery of a single apartment applied even though the case started months before HSTPA passed.
The key word in these cases is pending. A tenant cannot rely on the HSTPA to revive an overcharge claim that was dismissed prior to June 14, 2019, the effective date of the new law. See 315 Jefferson LLC v Dominguez, 2019 NY Slip Op 29255 (Civ.Ct. Kings Co.) In this case, the court dismissed the tenant’s overcharge claim on May 9, 2019, just about a month too soon. You can’t win them all.