Rent Overcharge Victories!

Wondering what we’ve been up to here at Crumiller P.C. this fall?  Oh just the usual kicking ass and taking names.  Here, I focus on some interesting rent overcharge cases we filed.

Victory over Summary Judgment Motion

We recently overcame a motion to dismiss a rent overcharge case we filed on behalf of two apartments in an old building in midtown.  We alleged that the landlord had fraudulently miscategorized the entire building as commercial for years.  We described a handful of incidents where this landlord had asked various tenants to lie to building inspectors by hiding their beds!  We had a slight hurdle due to statute of limitations because our clients had been living in the apartment for more than four years.  The landlord argued that our claims were barred by CPLR 213-a, which states that examination of an apartment’s rental history beyond the four-year period immediately prior to the filing of the claim is barred.  We argued that it is well established, under applicable caselaw, that there is an exception when a colorable claim of fraud is alleged.

After extensive briefing and intensive oral argument, the Court adopted our position.  The Court stated that the matter presents “a unique factual scenario” since there was no evidence that the building was ever subjected to rent stabilization.  The court held that the landlord made “too many suspicious mistakes” for it to render summary judgment and that questions about the landlord’s supicious behavior are for a jury to decide.

Check out the decision [here].  Onward and upward!


Victory over Profiteering Tenant

If you ever get papers from our office…. Ignore them at your own peril!

We represented a woman who had rented an apartment from who she thought was the owners.  She later learned that the apartment was rent-stabilized and that she had been significantly overcharged.  We sued the prime tenants for rent overcharge.  The tenants opted simply not to respond, perhaps suspecting that we would not actively pursue the case.  Instead, we secured a judgment in the amount of $72,500 and promptly seized their bank accounts.

Rent-stabilized tenants: don’t make the mistake of overcharging your subtenants!  We’ve represented parties on both sides of this issue and I can tell you from experience – it’s much better when you investigate your legal rights and responsibilities and do things correctly from the beginning.


Summary

Rent overcharge cases can be tough, as they require intensive factual analysis, creative thinking, and lots of strategizing.  In other words, our favorite type of case!  While our L&T practice focuses primarily on holdovers, we do accept a limited number of rent overcharge cases on contingency.  If you suspect you have been overcharged, obtain a copy of your DHCR Rent History, then reach out to us.

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