Four-Year Rule Is Constitutional
LVT Number: 12837
(Decision submitted by Jack Kuthner of the Manhattan law firm of Kucker Kraus & Bruh, LLP, attorneys for the landlord.) Facts: A group of tenants from the same building with rent overcharge complaints either pending or already decided brought a court case challenging the DHCR's procedures for deciding overcharge complaints. Among other things, tenants claimed that the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997 (RRRA 97) was unconstitutional because it altered without notice the rights of tenants with pending overcharge complaints. Under that law, overcharge claims were strictly limited to four years prior to the filing of a complaint, and the DHCR couldn't look at proof of overcharges occurring more than four years prior to the filing of the complaint in making its determination. Court: Tenants lose. Before RRRA 97 became law, there was already a four-year time limit for rent overcharge complaints. Courts interpreted that time limit differently. Some permitted examination of rent history records prior to the four years; others didn't. RRRA 97 didn't change the law. It clarified the law to end disputes in the courts over the law's interpretation. Tenants' rights to file and maintain overcharge cases didn't change. And, in general, when a law is amended while a case is pending, applying the amended law to the pending case is appropriate and not unconstitutional.
Daniel v. DHCR: NYLJ, p. 26, col. 3 (11/18/98) (Sup. Ct. NY; Davis, J)