Posted by Ronin Amano on June 23, 2001 at 16:37:08:
In Reply to: Re: 4-year posted by chelsea on June 23, 2001 at 09:32:48:
: 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.
I think that what you are saying is good advice. It's always easier to avoid complex issues. It's just sad that this counts as a complex issue.
In any case, for those who are not within the 4 years absolute, they can go to supreme court and tack on fraud (2 years from the time it was discovered) and contract (fraud within challengeable for up 6 years from the date it was breached) claims to their overcharge claims. They are entitled to extra (punitive) damages on each claim. And as I stated before, if you have a federal claim, go federal and you can even contemplate treble damages of the treble damages.
But remember that the 1997 RRRA was desugned to protect an 'honest' landlord who properly registered each year from being attacked for a 15 year old miscalculation. The DHCR regulations acted to protect a dishonest LL who didnt register a bogus rent and charged it for 4 years. On the surface they look the same, but the DHCR interpretation would mean the repeal of all of our fraud laws and contract laws. Not to mention it would have rendered meaningless all of the rent laws. The section you cited didnt specifically change the contract statute of limitations on rental agreements to 4 years, since the legal regulated rent is a part of each contract, to interpret it the way the DHCR did would have meant that LL's could charge a fraudulent rent in the lease agreement, and tenants would be barred from challenging it AT ALL after 4 years, while the LL could ON THE SAME CONTRACT enforce the lease agreement up to 6 years later despite the fraud. This would obviously be a serious equal protection issue. We pay judges to interpret laws to make them consistent with each other or strike them for being unconstitutional. The housing judges have historically refused to do so. The whole constitutional law argument is of course taught in the first year of law school and is a basic part of statutory construction.
I would be interested in seeing some non-housing judge opinions that supported the DHCR interpretation. Could you cite some for me?
In any case, I definitely agree that anyone in the 4 years should file now just to make it simple for the low quality, mean-spirited, dim-witted housing judges who made it through law school without learning the most elementary legal principles.
PS. Any housing judges should please read my disclaimer.
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