After Hurricane Sandy, rent-stabilized tenants living in damaged buildings with diminished services were told—and believed—that they would be able to get rent reductions for the entire time they were without services.
The Rent Stabilization Code stipulates that reductions are given from the time the service is lost. But, as rent-stabilized residents at Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town have discovered, they might only be eligible for reductions starting in March—a four-month discrepancy that could be worth thousands of dollars per tenant.
Forget sweet nothings and exclusive party invitations. The two words most New Yorkers long to hear are “rent controlled.” But like so many (impossible?) dreams, this, too, may soon be dead.
The Supreme Court could decide today whether or not to hear a case brought by former federal prosecutor James D. Harmon Jr., the owner of a five-story townhouse on West 76th Street. Mr. Harmon, who grew up in the brownstone and now lives there with his wife Jeanne, inherited the building and its three rent-controlled tenants from his grandfather. He argues that New York City’s rent laws violate the Constitution by taking his property without just compensation.
The three tenants with rent control pay approximately $1,000 a month for one-bedroom apartments, about 59 percent below market rate, according to court documents. Three other tenants in the building pay market rents.
“For 50 years my family has been subsidizing the lifestyles of tenants,” Mr. Harmon, who is 68, told the Observer on Friday. He and his wife were both getting older, Mr. Harmon said, and cannot afford to do it anymore. “If there is a problem here, then society as a whole should bear the burden.”