Tenant Reinstates Overcharge Claim in Court After HSTPA Confirms Jurisdiction
LVT Number: #32057
Tenant sued both her building owner and managing agents for rent overcharge and improper deregulation of her apartment. Tenant claimed that she was rent stabilized although landlord had included a Deregulation Rider with tenant's 2003 vacancy lease, which provided for a $2,200 monthly rent. Tenant signed the Deregulation Rider, acknowledging that she was the first unregulated tenant, that the last regulated rent for the unit was $1,483, and that a statutory vacancy increase and/or 1/40th rent increase had been added to bring the new rent to $2,200. In 2017, tenant had filed a prior action seeking the same relief sought now, but the court dismissed that case in 2018, finding that tenant should have filed her complaint with the DHCR instead. Tenant then filed her overcharge claim with the DHCR but withdrew that claim and filed the new court petition after HSTPA provided that the DHCR and courts have concurrent jurisdiction over rent overcharge claims.
Tenant asked the court for a ruling in her favor, claiming no trial was needed. Tenant claimed that landlord fabricated renovations that weren't in fact done and inflated the cost of other work. Landlord pointed out that the vacancy rent increase in effect in 2004, as well as the long-term vacancy adjustment applicable since prior tenant had lived in the apartment for 20 years had brought the rent up to $1,957 before even adding IAI costs to the next legal rent. Landlord submitted an invoice from a contractor itemizing IAI work costing $16,900.
The court ruled against tenant, finding there were questions of fact the precluded summary judgment at this stage. The court also denied landlord's request to dismiss the court case because the DHCR hadn't yet dismissed tenant's complaint before the agency. However, the court dismissed that portion of tenant's complaint against the managing agents. Managing agents aren't liable for rent overcharge absent clear and explicit proof of an agent's intent to substitute personal liability for the principal. The court directed both sides to appear in the near future for a preliminary conference.
Von Boyens v. 12 E. 86th St. LLC: Index No. 161448/2019, 2022 NY Slip Op 30759(U)(Sup. Ct. NY; 4/1/22; Sattler, J)