BBG News

Unanimous Appellate Division Rejects Tenant’s Defense of De Facto Stabilization with Facts Dating Back Over 100 Years

Oct 19, 2023

BBG successfully obtained unanimous affirmance of summary judgment in an ejectment action where the tenant alleged that the apartment was subject to rent stabilization since the building contained more than 6 units dating as far back as 1902.

Before bringing the action, BBG strategically obtained “ancient” documents and an affidavit from an architect to support its summary judgment motion and disprove the tenant’s de facto rent stabilization allegations. The “ancient” documents, which contained notations from inspectors dating back almost a century, and the architect’s affidavit, established that the building was altered in 1937 and in 1981 to contain less than 6 housing accommodations prior to the effective date of rent stabilization, and therefore had always been exempt from rent stabilization.  BBG’s strategy was effective, as the tenant failed to produce any contrary evidence.

Notably, in rejecting the tenant’s allegation regarding rent stabilization, the Appellate Division stated that, “Whether a building is subject to rent stabilization ‘turns on the function of the units as housing accommodations (i.e. their continuous and exclusive use and occupancy as residences for a period of time), not the ‘legality’ of their usage in  the absence of a certificate of occupancy.”  The Appellate Division emphasized that “Some degree of actual occupancy or evidence of ‘intended’ occupancy in the years after rent stabilization could have attached (generally, either 1969 or 1974) is required to establish that units counted toward the six-unit threshold for regulation.”

Sherwin BelkinDavid Skaller, Magda Cruz, and Daniel Phillips handled the litigation and appeal on this matter.

For the complete decision, you can access it here.

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