UES tenants say landlords are increasing their stabilized rents

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY – More than 40 tenants from a large residential complex on the Upper East Side are suing their landlord, alleging that their rental-stabilized homes are being illegally deregulated in order to raise prices.

The 48 tenants live in Normandie Court: a four-tower, 1,500-unit complex built in the 1980s that spans an entire block over East 95th Street between Second and Third Avenues.

Many of them are older and live in the facility shortly after they open. When it was built, developers Milstein Properties put some of the apartments aside as affordable in exchange for a tax break through the city’s 421-a program.

In recent years, however, tenants who wanted to extend their leases have been confronted with large leaps in the asking rent – sometimes even up to 10 percent, according to the lawsuit. That’s a tough pill for renters like Margaret Bartlett, a retired NYPD worker who lives in Normandy with her children and grandchildren who has PTSD and respiratory problems because she was at the World Trade Center on September 11th.

The rent increases were made possible by the expiry of the 421a tax break in 1999, which allows the landlord to deregulate the apartments and raise the rents to the market price – provided that he notifies the tenants in 12-point writing when they have theirs Extend rental agreement.

This is what happens now: Normandie Court tenants struggle with ** 10% rent increases ** every year after their landlord leaves the 421a program.

We’re going to finish 421a in 2022 and we’re going to win Good Cause Eviction for all New Yorkers. #HouseNY pic.twitter.com/YsYW0QDBbS
– Housing justice for everyone (@ housing4allNY) November 18, 2021

In the lawsuit, tenants say the terminations were written in less than 12 point font – and that the lease renewals incorrectly stated that the 1997 tax break had expired. The 10 percent rent increases meanwhile violate the 2019 law, which limits the annual rent increases for stabilized tenants.

Tenants filed lawsuits in a state court on Wednesday against Normandie Court’s current owner, Ogden Cap Properties, which was spun off from Milstein after the company split in 2003. An Ogden representative declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit calls for a judge to reimburse tenants for the excessive rent they have been paying since 2019 and to force Ogden to offer tenants rental-stabilized renewals for their current apartments.

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