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expired J-51 and previous status

Posted by on July 19, 2001 at 14:51:03:

I think that the expired J-51 - no more rent stabilized situation could be more common than just a few cases, and that many people who think to live in a decontrolled apartment, like myself, are actually fraudolently overcharged. The law clearly states that a building, upon expiration of the J-51, goes to its previous legal status, whatever that was (stabilized/decontrolled).

I'll tell my story, hoping that it could help people in similar situation as well, and yes, I am going to hire a lawyer, to whom I spoke already, but before that I need to know how to gather some proofs and I hope that somebody in this forum (chelsea maybe?) can help.

My story is that I signed a lease in July 1997 where an attached "vacancy decontrol rider" was stating that "the building was previously subject to the rent stabilization law based upon participation in the J-51 tax benefit program under section 11-243 of the real property tax law and rent stabilization code# 2520.11(o). The period for receipt of such tax benefit has expired. It uis understood and agreed that the apartment is not subject to rent stabilization law or any other form of rent regulation, as result of a vacancy in the apartment on or after the expiration date of the J-51 tax abatement".
I signed, and the next year I saw my rent going up of 15% and every year, more of less the same, but last year when I really refused to agree on signing the lease. Now it's back to same trend again, with a 10% increase.
I am learning now that if the building was rent stabilized before, it would stay rent stabilized. The problem is that building has been under the J-51 benefit from 1981 to 1996, and DHCR has provided me the rent history, starting from 1984. They say that they have no record of what was the legal status for my apartment before, nor they seem to be willing to point me to any direction.
In my renewal lease for 2000, there is an extra clause that says that "it is agreed by the landlord and the tenant that since the building was completely renovated in 1984 and does not receive tax abatement from the City of New York, subject premise is decontrolled and not subject to the regulations of the stabilization code".

Now I suspect that the building was rent stabilized, that the alleged 1984 "renovation", (mentioned in the 2000 lease) was possibly related to the J-51 and not such to put the building in the free market.
My questions for this forum are:

1) How do I find out the status of the building before 1981, which would tell me if it was rent stabilized?
2) If in 1984 there was such a renovation (unrelated to the J-51) to put the building out of rent regulation, shouldn't they have applied for this change of "status" and shouldn't be a record of this approved change?
3) The fact that I have been asked to sign that rider in my lease void all my rights?

I think that many people could be in a similar situation, but if DHCR has no information of the status of a building before 1984, it seems clear to me that each LL is entitled to just get away with it, as long as they started the J-51 before...


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