Posted by chelsea on June 23, 2001 at 09:32:48:
In Reply to: Re: 4-year posted by Ronin Amano on June 22, 2001 at 17:46:39:
Well, I certain hope tenants win on the challenge to the code language on the 4-year rule, but it's by no means a done deal. Even before the December 2000 code amendments, there were a number of rulings barring examination of the rent history beyond four years of the filing of the complaint. Many of these, not only by Housing Court judges, cited the 1997 RRRA section at the end of this message.
Given that it is still up in the air, tenants still within four years of a major overcharge should act in a timely fashion to avoid having to spend money litigating that issue if they can. Anyone considering an overcharge challenge -- especially with limited money to pay a lawyer -- should file an overcharge complaint with DHCR as soon as possible to get it on the record. This allows the tenant to go back as far as possible into the history later on. It costs nothing. If the tenant wants to take it to Housing Court later on, he or she can still has that option. At the time of renewal of the next lease, for instance, since DHCR almost certainly will not have acted on the complaint by then. There is a small risk that a Housing Court judge may return it to DHCR, but this is a negligible compared with losing out because of the four-year rule. The tenant could seek to have the Housing Court order DHCR to expedite the case at that point. Chances are the case would continue in Housing Court, and the tenant would be able to go back four years before the DHCR filing.
True, it may be better for the tenant to file immediately in Supreme Court, but very few tenants have the money and the comfort with litigation to do this right off the bat.
From the 1997 RRRA:
S 32. Clause (i) of subparagraph (b) of paragraph 1 of subdivision a
of section 12 of section 4 of chapter 576 of the laws of 1974 constitut-
ing the emergency tenant protection act of nineteen seventy-four, as
amended by chapter 403 of the laws of 1983, is amended to read as
(i) Except as provided under clauses (ii) and (iii) of this subpara-
graph, a complaint under this subdivision shall be filed with the state
division of housing and community renewal within four years of the first
overcharge alleged AND NO DETERMINATION OF AN OVERCHARGE and no award OR
CALCULATION OF AN AWARD of the amount of an overcharge may be based upon
an overcharge having occurred more than four years before the complaint
is filed. THIS PARAGRAPH SHALL PRECLUDE EXAMINATION OF THE RENTAL
HISTORY OF THE HOUSING ACCOMMODATION PRIOR TO THE FOUR-YEAR PERIOD
PRECEDING THE FILING OF A COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO THIS SUBDIVISION. : :
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