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Legal Aid Seeks Pro Bono Research Assistance for Court of Appeals Brief

Landlord of Rent Stabilized Building Challenging Ruling That HUD Agreement Does Not Preempt Local Rent Regulations

The Legal Aid Society represents a an unincorporated tenants association of low and moderate income tenants who reside in a building in Northern Manhattan.  On behalf of the Tenants, The Legal Aid Society brought an action in New York County Supreme Court seeking a declaratory judgment that their tenancies were subject to the New York City Rent Stabilization Law and seeking damages against the owner for rent overcharges.

In July 2017, The Supreme Court New York County denied the owners motion for Summary Judgment and granted the Tenants cross motion, concluding that HUD’s authority did not preempt the Rent Stabilization Law and as such, was subject to the law as of December 29, 2000.

The owners appealed the Supreme Court’s decision and the Appellate Division found the building was preempted prior to 2011 under HCDA, but rent stabilized after. Neither side thinks the decision makes sense in the way the court split the difference.  The Owner is planning to appeal to the Court of Appeals once our lower court case has a final judgment on the rent overcharge issues, and vice versa.  Our disagreement is that preemption should not apply from the period between 2001-2011 and that the building came into rent stabilization in 2001 after prepayment of the mortgage, and the Owner is saying the building should remain preempted even after 2011.

The Legal Aid Society is seeking research assistance in order to prepare their reply brief. Specifically, we are seeking research focusing on HUD’s authority as a federal agency and supporting our position that there is a “presumption against preemption” and that federal conflict preemption does not apply to this case.