Tuesday, December 28, 2010


As we worked hard for, the state's mid-level court - the same court that issued the "unique or peculiar" decision that started our problems - has supported us unanimously.  This affects not only us but tenants in some 60 buildings. The landlords whose tenants brought the case own these buildings:

Boulevard Towers I (now Stellar 2020 LLC)
Bruckner Towers (now Stellar Bruckner LLC)
Central Park Gardens (now West 97th St. Realty Corp.)
Columbus House (95 W. 95th st.)
Columbus Manor LLC (70 W. 93rd St.)
Dancia - 1889 Sedgwick (now Stellar Sedgwick LLC)
Janel Towers LLC (Bronx)
Hempstead Plaza (now Hempstead Stellar Plaza LLC)
Highbridge House (now Highbridge House Ogden LLC)
New Amsterdam (now Axton)
Noble Mansion (now Noble Mansion Associates LLC)
River Park (now Stellar Morrison LLC)
Town House West Apts (now Town House West , LLC)
Undercliff (now Stellar Undercliff LLC)
Westview (now 765 Amsterdam Ave LLC)
Westwood House, LLC

The Appellate Division, First Department (the  state's mid-level court covering Manhattan and the Bronx), has ruled VALID the state's housing agency regulation that says that just leaving Mitchell-Lama is NOT by itself a "unique or peculiar circumstance" justifying a big rent increase.    You can read the court decision at
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_09569.htm .

This applies to all buildings constructed before 1974 that have been (or will be) taken out of Mitchell-Lama.  Those buildings go into rent stabilization under the 1974 Emergency Tenant Protection Act.  A loophole in that law says that in "unique or peculiar circumstances" the state's housing agency can adjust the first stabilized rent.  The definition of what those "circumstances" are was at stake.  Landlords   claimed that just leaving Mitchell-Lama qualified, while the courts (and the tenants) pointed out that "unique or peculiar" (sometimes called "unique and peculiar" or U&P) means what it says: a few, not every apartment coming out of the program.

Thanks to David Hershey-Webb of Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben,Donoghue & Joseph, the attorney for the Columbus House Tenants Association who wrote the brief and argued the case on appeal to the Appellate Division.  (The other tenant associations - including ours - were not permitted to remain as "intervening parties" at this level, although they had been at the lower State Supreme Court level.)  It is extremely likely that the owners will try to appeal to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals.

But what a nice victory to savor right now!