NEW YORK, May 13 (Reuters) - Tenants of the Stuyvesant Town
and Peter Cooper Village complex are urging Governor Andrew
Cuomo to denounce a bill they said would block their efforts to
recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal rent hikes.
The bill takes aim at a Court of Appeals' decision in
Roberts v. Tishman Speyer Properties, which held that owners of
the complex illegally deregulated thousands of rent-stabilized
apartments while collecting government tax breaks.
In an open letter to Cuomo, representatives for the 10,000
current and former Stuyvesant Town residents who are plaintiffs
in the Roberts case called the bill "bad public policy,"
arguing that the complex's past and present owners would be let
off lightly for past misdeeds.
"Now that they have been caught by Roberts, the landlords
want the current Legislature to do an end run around the
courts and pardon them from having broken the law," the letter
Under the bill, landlords would have one of two options.
They could either repay the tax breaks to the city and continue
renting out apartments at free-market rates, or keep the tax
breaks and refund certain rent overpayments based on a
Depending which option they chose, the current and former
owners would owe between $10 million and $40 million, far less
than the $200 million in rent overcharges the tenants said they
were owed in their class-action suit in 2007.
The plaintiffs in the Roberts case estimate the bill would
hit as many as 40,000 tenants citywide.
The sponsor of the bill, New York State Senator Catherine
Young has argued that the Roberts plaintiffs were not the
low-income and moderate-income New Yorkers who need rent
"When the court made its decision, it was clear that they
wanted a legislative remedy," Young told Reuters on Fridya.
"This would solve a very difficult issue, and it would help the
The New York State Senate Housing Committee voted 5-3 on
May 4 to send the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
If the state Senate passes the bill, it must be approved
by both the Democrat-controlled Assembly and Governor Cuomo
before it can be passed into law. Meanwhile, state lawmakers
are wrestling with a general extension of the state's rent
stabilization laws, which are set to expire on June 15.
The case is Roberts v. Tishman Speyer Properties, New York
State Court of Appeals, No. 13 NY3d 270.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye)