THE 2009 ROBERTS CASE APPLIES RETROACTIVELY TO RENT OVERCHARGES STEMMING FROM THE RENTAL OF DEREGULATED APARTMENTS BY LANDLORDS RECEIVING J-51 TAX BENEFITS; THE OVERCHARGES HERE MUST BE RE-CALCULATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH A RECENT RULING BY THE COURT OF APPEALS; THE CLASS OF TENANTS IN THIS RENT OVERCHARGE ACTION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN EXPANDED BY SUPREME COURT (FIRST DEPT).
The First Department, modifying Supreme Court, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Richter, determined: (1) Roberts v Thishman, 13 NY3d 270 applies retroactively to landlords who rent deregulated apartments while receiving J-51 tax benefits; (2) the class of tenants bringing the rent-overcharge action should not have been expanded by Supreme Court; and (3) Supreme Court must re-calculate the rent overcharges in accordance with the recent Court of Appeals ruling in Matter of Regina, 2020 NYSlipOp 02127:
In Gersten v 56 7th Ave. LLC (88 AD3d 189, 198 [1st Dept 2011]), this Court held that Roberts should be applied retroactively because the decision simply interpreted a statute that had been in effect for a number of years, and did not establish a new principle of law. * * *
In Matter of Regina … , the Court of Appeals determined that “the overcharge calculation amendments [in the HSTPA (HousiNg Stability and Tenant Protection Act)] cannot be applied retroactively to overcharges that occurred prior to their enactment.” The Court also resolved a split in this Department as to what rent records can be reviewed to determine rents and overcharges in Roberts cases … . Regina concluded that “under pre-HSTPA law, the four-year lookback rule and standard method of calculating legal regulated rent govern in Roberts overcharge cases, absent fraud” … .Accordingly, we … remand the matter for the court to set forth a methodology consistent with the Rent Stabilization Law as interpreted by the Court of Appeals in Regina. …
… [T]he motion court improvidently exercised its discretion in expanding the class. The court’s order failed to analyze whether class action status was warranted based on the criteria set forth in CPLR 901 and CPLR 902. Conducting that analysis ourselves, we find that the redefined class represents such a fundamental change in the theory of plaintiffs’ case that expansion of the class would be improper. Dugan v London Terrace Gardens, L.P., 2020 NY Slip Op 04239, First Dept 7-23-20