HISTORIC CLASS-ACTION DECISION RELEASED
On September 15, 2022, City Limits reported on a recent New York County Supreme Court decision which may ultimately benefit some 2000 Harlem tenants.
The case - - Maddicks et al. v 106-108 Convent BCR, LLC - - involves eleven (11) buildings that are part of the Big City Realty/Magnolia Holdings portfolio. The tenants allege a methodological attempt by those buildings’ owners to deprive residents of their rent-stabilized rights through various means, such as: taking rent increases for unperformed improvements, and, failing to register apartments while in receipt of a tax benefit that required registration.
The case, which was originally dismissed back in 2017, went all the way up to the Court of Appeals, where our state’s highest court concluded that the underlying dismissal had issued in error.
After that appellate determination, the tenants sought documentary evidence from the buildings’ owners to support the rents being charged for their units. But the landlords were unwilling or unable to provide same. For example, one’s unit’s rent spiked, $947.62, between 2013-2014; an uptick which would have required some $40,200 in improvements, for which no proof was supplied. In yet another example, even though the landlord informed a state regulator that the apartment was rent-stabilized, the tenants were provided a free-market lease.
To achieve class certification, Newman Ferrara attorneys deployed a unique strategy: an issue class authorized by CPLR 906. Under that law, litigants may seek class certification with respect to certain issues - - such as liability, or a request for a determination that the landlord engaged in a common practice of evading the rent regulations - - and resolve those matters on a class-wide basis, before dealing with remaining components of the case.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time a CPLR 906 class has ever been certified," said Newman Ferrara partner Roger A. Sachar, “and the more tools New Yorkers have at their disposal to protect their rights, the better.”
“While certainly novel, contrary to what was reported by the media, we didn’t open any ‘floodgates’ with this ruling,” noted Newman Ferrara senior partner Lucas A. Ferrara. “We simply sought to hold wrongdoers responsible for their misconduct. But this determination certainly does send a chilling message to property owners that cheaters cannot, and will not, prosper.”
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If you believe you are a victim of rent overcharge, or other misconduct by your landlord, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our attorneys by calling 212-619-5400.