Courts Confuse J51 Issue Again

Just when it looked like Roberts vs. Tishman, the Stuyvesant Town case, was resolving itself with a proposed settlement last week based on several court decisions using a four year statute of limitations on overcharge complaints, the Appellate Division decided Wednesday that there was no reason to apply a statute of limitations on examining rents in a J51 deregulation case. By reversing the lower court in 72A Realty Associates v. Lucas, the Appellate Division has guaranteed that the uncertainty of how to deal with these cases since the Court of Appeals punted in 2009 will continue indefinitely.

Speaking of uncertain and impractical rent regulations, the City just worked out a deal with property owners to get around rent laws to house Superstorm Sandy refugees temporarily without a) locking tenants into one year leases, or b) unintentionally giving them renewal rights to stabilized units. Some of the leases will be signed by Common Ground, a non-profit intermediary, in order to prevent a landlord-tenant relationship being created directly with the occupants. One can’t help remembering that the City had been cracking down on this corporate apartment model as a violation of zoning rules prior to the storm.

Also, the State Division of Homes and Community Renewal published a Q and A sheet on rent reductions due tenants from Sandy. Basically, if the unit is uninhabitable the tenant gets to keep their rights to the unit when it is repaired for $1 a month (although the dollar isn’t really necessary according to the agency). If the unit is habitable, but doesn’t have, say, electricity, then the tenant can get a guideline rent reduction until services are fully restored. We’ll see what the courts say when tenants wind up taking arbitrary reductions.

Ever wonder where all the new people in the neighborhood are coming from? WNYC has come up with an interactive map that lets you click on an area and see how many recent movers came from out of state, or out of the country. For example, more than 20 percent of the people who moved into the neighborhood around University Place below 14th Street came from abroad, but only 4 percent from out of state, according to New Jersey relocation service data. By contrast, 27 percent of the movers to an area just east of the Brooklyn Navy Yard seem to have come from out of state, but not enough foreigners to count.

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