Judge Jack Stoller

Landlord sued to recover possession of the rent-stabilized apartment from tenant Zgodny in this summary suit for non-payment of rent. The parties entered into a stipulation and tenant consented to a final judgment based on a $4,150 monthly rent. Zgodny now moved to vacate the stipulation arguing he was unaware of a potential rent overcharge defense. The court stated a pro se party demonstrated grounds for vacating a stipulation in a non-payment summary suit by showing a meritorious defense, including rent overcharge. It noted the base date was four years before the filing of an overcharge claim. Yet, 72A Realty Assoc. v. Lucas held that deregulation of a rent-stabilized apartment in a J-51 tax abatement building before the Roberts v. Tishman-Speyer Properties ruling, along with a lack of clarity as to establishment of a vacancy rent at a level meriting luxury deregulation warranted examination of any available rental history necessary to set the proper base date rent. The court noted landlord’s submission of individual apartment improvements to warrant a rent increase were insufficient to rebut the proposition that tenant set forth a "potentially meritorious" rent overcharge defense. Hence, it granted the motion, vacating the stipulation and judgment.