Sept. 23, 2022 By Czarinna Andres
A tenant of a luxury apartment complex in Long Island City has filed a lawsuit alleging that a major development company hiked his rent by 58 percent—in violation of rent stabilization laws, the Commercial Observer reported.
The lawsuit, which was filed by a tenant of Jackson Park along with the watchdog group Housing Rights Initiative, was class certified by a New York State Supreme Court judge this week, which could permit other tenants of the 1,800-unit development to sign on to the suit.
The suit has been filed against Tishman Speyer, accusing the developer of the 28-10 Jackson Ave. building of skirting the rent stabilization regulations that it must adhere to as a beneficiary of the 421a tax-abatement program.
The tenant said that he faced a 58 percent rent hike from 2021 to 2022, arguing that the building’s rent hikes should be capped at 1.5 percent due to rent-stabilization requirements tied to the 421a tax benefit.
Tishman Speyer allegedly circumvented the requirements by not leasing the apartments to the residents, but by instead giving them contracts as licensees, the Observer reported, citing Roger Sachar and Lucas Ferrara of the Newman Ferrara law firm, who are representing the plaintiffs.
“They’re making tenants sign these forms that basically are saying they’re roommates to the landlord,” Ferrara told the Observer, calling Tishman’s business practices absurd.
Tishman Speyer argues in response to the allegations that it has followed rent regulations, and the increases were not in violation because the renewals accounted for a free month of rent granted as a concession during the pandemic.
The judge’s ruling earlier this week came as no surprise to Tishman Speyer.
“This was a routine procedural ruling on class-action status, not a decision on the merits of the case,” a Tishman Speyer spokesperson told the Observer.
The Housing Rights Initiative said that at least 3,000 former and current residents qualify for the class. If the plaintiffs prove their case, they could all receive reimbursement or rent reductions, as well as corrected contracts.