In a breaking news ticker that just rocked our world, the Times reports that the state's highest court has ruled against landlord Tishman Speyer in the Stuyvesant Town rent-stabilization lawsuit. Brief background: A group of market-rate tenants in the problem-plagued behemoth sued Tishman Speyer, arguing the landlord shouldn't have deregulated apartments while receiving tax breaks to fix up the property. A lower court agreed, threatening to send 4,400 Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village apartments back into rent control (Tishman Speyer would also have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in rent overcharges). Landlord groups feared copycat lawsuits in other largely rent-stabilized complexes that also received the tax breaks while converting apartments to market rates.
The state's Court of Appeals agreed to hear Tishman Speyer's appeal?the previous landlord, MetLife, also joined to fight the ruling?which became the Stuy Town Super Bowl. And now, this. We'll say it again: Holy moly! More to come.
UPDATE: The NYT's story on the matter is now up. To the video tape!
The 4-2 ruling could affect 80,000 apartments across the city, Charles Bagli reports. And the court showed some sympathy for the financial hit Tishman Speyer and its partners might take, but only a bit:
In its decision, the court acknowledged that the developers have predicted "dire circumstances for our ruling, for themselves and the New York City real estate industry generally." But the court pointed out that numerous unresolved issues could lessen the amount of money that the owners may have to repay. And "if the statute imposes unacceptable burdens, defendants' remedy is to seek legislative relief."Bloomberg also has a report on the decision, pointing out that "state law entitles tenants to triple damages for illegal rent increases." If the decision causes the cash-strapped Tishman Speyer to default on the record $5.4 billion purchase of Stuy Town, well, the tenants' lawyer addressed that: "If they end up transferring ownership to the lenders, under New York law, the lenders are responsible for the overcharges." So, will this become a landmark ruling? More important question: Are revelers streaking through the Stuy Town fountain yet? DOUBLE UPDATE: The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association just sent out a victory lap of an e-mail, linking the court's decision (warning: PDF) and calling it, "A victory for all tenants in New York City, and a crushing defeat for Tishman Speyer." Also, they'd like your donations. Well, we know about 4,400 people soon to have some spare cash on hand!
TRIPLE UPDATE: Our take on today's celebratory press conference.
· Court Deals Blow to Owner of Huge Apartment Complex [NYT]
· Tishman’s Stuyvesant Town Rent Rise Voided by Court [Bloomberg]
· All Stuyvesant Town coverage [Curbed]