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Scott E. Mollen Scott E. Mollen

Landlord Tenant—Housing Stability and Tennant Protection Act of 2019—Rent Overcharges‑—Roberts Decision May Be Applied Retroactively Without Violating Due Process—Class of Plaintiffs Will Not Be Expanded—Owner’s Effort To Make Interim Payments To Mitigate Any Future Interest Award Rejected Since Owner Conditioned Such Payments On Tenants’ Obligation To Repay Such Amounts if Owner Subsequently Prevailed

This decision involved four appeals rising from class action litigations which challenged the deregulation of hundreds of apartments at a ten-building housing complex in Manhattan (complex). The plaintiffs are current and former tenants. The complex was built in 1931 and was originally subject to rent control. Pursuant to the 1974 Emergency Tenant Protection Act, upon vacancy, rent control apartments became rent stabilized (stabilized). Since 1974, the complex has both stabilized and rent controlled apartments.

Beginning in 1993, the owner began to deregulate apartments. The Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1993 permitted owners to deregulate rent—regulated apartments if the rents and/or the occupant’s income “exceeded certain statutory thresholds.” However, in 2009, the NY Court of Appeals held that owners may not deregulate units while they were simultaneously receiving tax benefits pursuant to New York City’s J-51 tax abatement and exemption program. (Roberts v. Tishman Speyer Props., L.P., 13 NY3d 270 (2009) (Roberts)). Apartments and buildings receiving J-51 tax benefits had to be registered with the NYS Div. of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) and are generally subject to stabilization for as long as J-51 benefits are received.

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