Elected Officials Back Tenants' Push for Rent-Stabilized Status

Elected officials, including Borough President Scott Stringer, State Sen. Daniel Squadron, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, recently pledged their support for the tenants of TriBeCa's Independence Plaza North, who are fighting for their apartments to become rent stabilized.

The officials recently filed court documents arguing that the 1,331-unit complex, which was built as affordable housing but now commands luxury rents, should be rent stabilized because the owner received a J-51 tax break. The tenants have been battling the owner in court for the past seven years, and while an initial 2010 decision favored the tenants, the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled in the owner's favor last April.

Now, the tenants are asking the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, to hear their case. The elected officials signed onto amicus briefs, or legal papers, urging the Court of Appeals to give the tenants a chance to make their case.

The tenants argue that their apartments should be rent stabilized because the owner received a J-51 tax break, which is given to landlords to make improvements to their buildings in turn for providing rent stabilization. However, the owner says he canceled the $7,550-a-year tax break in 2006, so he does not owe the tenants anything.