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New York landlord facing class action lawsuit for overcharging

Landlord tenant concerns are serious concerns for many individuals and families living in New York City and the greater New York area. Nearly 60 tenants of a Manhattan landlord have filed a class action lawsuit asserting the landlord collected certain tax breaks and then illegally overcharging tenants. The program provides tax benefits to landlords in exchange for upgrading their apartment buildings. One nonprofit housing rights group is urging fraud related to the tax benefits to be cracked down upon.

The company is accused of collecting certain tax benefits and then failing to abide by rent-stabilization limits. In one example provided, the company re-stabilized a unit that had been illegally deregulated at a rental amount that was 257 percent higher than the amount it had previously been registered at. Under the law, landlords are required to file an initial rent registration for each rent stabilized apartment and those registrations must be renewed annually.

Tenants in rent-stabilized units have the right to a free copy of the unit's rent history. It is important to carefully review the rent history for a unit and check for any missing years in the rent history. If there is a year missing in the unit's rent history over the preceding 4 years, the tenant may be able to challenge a rent increase. In general, the landlord cannot raise rent above the previously legal registered rental amount.

There are a variety of requirements placed on landlords and complexities associated with rent stabilization so it is important for tenants to understand how to protect themselves from rent overcharges. It can be essential for tenants to understand how to enforce their rights.

Source: New York Post, "Landlord hit with class-action lawsuit filed by nearly 60 tenants," Julia Marsh, April 18, 2017

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