Landlord v. Tenant: October 2015
Rent Overcharge: Four-Year Rule Applied to Overcharge Claim
(Decision submitted by David B. Cabrera of the Manhattan law firm of Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel, P.C., attorneys for the landlord.)
Landlord received J-51 tax benefits for its building in 2005 and gave tenant a rent-stabilized lease when she moved into the building in 2011. Landlord charged a legal regulated rent of $4,237 and a preferential rent of $2,350. The parties renewed the lease for one year in 2012, but tenant refused to renew the lease again in 2013 at a monthly legal regulated rent of $4,495 and a preferential rent of $3,000. Landlord sued tenant, seeking a ruling that tenant’s rent was legal, that landlord offered tenant a lawful rent-stabilized renewal lease, that tenant was holding over after refusing to renew her lease, that there was no rent overcharge, and that landlord had properly calculated tenant’s legal rent.
Tenant, in turn, claimed fraud and sought reformation of her lease because landlord had given some prior tenants deregulated leases while under J-51 prior to the Court of Appeals 2009 decision in Roberts v. Tishman Speyer Properties LP. Tenant also questioned landlord’s individual apartment improvements and claimed that, even if there was no fraud, the rent should be frozen at the base date rent. Both sides sought attorney’s fees. Landlord asked the court to rule without a trial and to dismiss tenant’s claims.
The court ruled for landlord in part. Lease records showed that the rent charged to prior tenant on the base date four years before tenant claimed rent overcharge was $2,250. The court calculated vacancy and renewal increases over that amount and determined that landlord collected less than the legal regulated rent from tenant. So there was no overcharge. The case was sent back for a conference to determine any further outstanding issues.
- Ten Sheridan Associates, LLC v. Cohen: Index No. 151253/2014 (Sup. Ct. NY; 8/7/15; Rakower, J)
Rent Stabilization Coverage: Overnight SRO Guest Becomes Hotel-Stabilized Tenant
A taxi driver made a reservation for a one-night stay at landlord’s SRO building on July 29, 2015, and checked in on July 30. On that day, he paid for the room and submitted a written request for a six-month lease. He didn’t sleep in the room that night because, he claimed, he worked at night as a taxi cab driver. When tenant returned to the hotel on the morning of July 31, he was forcibly prevented from moving back in. His belongings were placed in storage at the building, and his room key was disabled. Tenant sued landlord immediately, seeking restoration to the premises as a permanent hotel-stabilized tenant.
The court ruled for tenant. The building was rent stabilized, and the unit in question was an SRO. By law an SRO hotel occupant who requests a lease of six months or more becomes a permanent tenant even if his actual occupancy is less than six months. Tenant was unlawfully evicted.
- Guia v. Audthan LLC: 48 Misc.3d 1217(A), 2015 NY Slip Op 51152(U) (Civ. Ct. NY; 8/7/15)