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Warren A. Estis and Jeffrey Turkel

In Roberts v. Tishman Speyer  (13 NY3d 270 [2009]), the Court of Appeals held that luxury deregulation is unavailable with respect to apartments in buildings receiving J-51 benefits. This article will explore recent case law addressing issues stemming from Roberts, including fraud, treble damages, rent freezes due to failure to register, and an owner’s right to seek luxury deregulation for stabilized apartments after J-51 benefits expire.

Fraud

Many tenants in post-Roberts cases allege that the owner engaged in a fraudulent scheme to deregulate the apartment, apparently believing that owners should have known better than to abide by DHCR’s interpretation of law. The significance of a finding of fraud is that the tribunal, in order to determine the legal rent, can examine the rental history of the apartment prior to the four-year period preceding the overcharge complaint (see Grimm v. New York State Div. of Hous. & Community Renewal, 15 NY3d 358, 365 [2010]). Breaching the four-year look-back period usually results in a lower rent and a larger refund.

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