Apartment Buildings To Stay Rent Regulated

Residents of eight Bronx apartment buildings can now rest assured that their rents will stay regulated.

They, along with residents of eight other rental residential complexes across New York City, had been waging a multi-year legal battle against owners of the regulated buildings, who argued in favor of overturning a state law and that their rents should become de-regulated.

On Wednesday, August 3, the tenants’ attorney said the ownership company, which had been ruled against at every stage of litigation, had missed the deadline to file any further appeals and planned no further legal action.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Barry Soltz, a tenant organizer for Janel Towers on Neill Avenue in Morris Park. “We’ve been fighting this for so many years. If the landlords were successful it would have been devastating to our tenants. It’s just fabulous news.”

Over 17,000 units across the city were facing deregulation. The private ownership groups were challenging the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s “unique and peculiar” regulation, which stipulated that buildings which had left Mitchell-Lama regulation (most of the 16 became privatized in the mid-1990s) and built prior to 1974 were subject to rent regulation.

The rule, as it pertains to the 16 buildings, has been in place since it was implemented by the Spitzer Administration in 2007. Owners challenged shortly thereafter.

The final group to give up its legal battle was Columbus 95th Street, LLC, which owns a building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The owner’s lawsuit against DHCR as well as the 16 buildings’ tenant groups, which had also retained legal counsel, was denied in State Supreme Court in late 2009.

The ruling was upheld by the Appellate Division in December. In June, the First Department of the Appellate Division denied a motion for permission to appeal. The ownership group’s deadline to appeal the final denial was Wednesday, July 27, but they did not.

The tenants associations took up collections to pay for legal bills.

The other Bronx buildings named in the original lawsuit were Highbridge House on Ogden Avenue, Noble Mansion off Noble Avenue, Boulevard Towers on Bruckner Boulevard, 1240 Morrison Avenue, 1889 Sedgwick Avenue and 1655 Undercliff Avenue.

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