Tenant's Claim Not Barred by Four-Year Rule
LVT Number: 14088
Facts: Landlord sued to evict rent-stabilized tenant for nonpayment of rent. Tenant claimed a rent overcharge and pointed out that the apartment hadn't been registered since 1988. Landlord said the apartment was registered and that tenant's overcharge claim was limited to the four-year period before tenant raised the issue in court. Tenant's claim was made in March 1995. Landlord had in fact filed incorrect recent registration statements, falsely registering the apartment as owner occupied/employee exempt. Landlord never sent tenant copies of these registrations. Landlord asked the court to dismiss tenant's rent overcharge claim without a trial. The court ruled against landlord, and landlord appealed. Court: Landlord loses. When the legislature passed the Rent Registration Reform Act of 1997, it didn't address the issue of how the legal regulated rent and overcharges should be calculated when no proper registrations were filed during the four-year period. The court interpreted the law to mean that no determination of an overcharge can be based upon an overcharge having occurred more than four years before the complaint is filed, but that the last properly registered rent in 1988 remained the legal rent for purposes of determining the overcharge. In this case, the 1988 registered rent was $502, and tenant was charged over $2,000, so there was a substantial overcharge during the four-year period.
Myers v. Frankel: NYLJ, 4/26/00, p. 29, col. 1 (App. T.2 Dept.; Scholnick, JP, Aronin, Patterson, JJ)