Yesterday one ebullient Stuyvesant Town tenant said he expected his market-rate apartment to revert back to rent-regulated rent levels "immediately," now that the state's highest court has ruled that property owner Tishman Speyer improperly raised rents while also receiving tax breaks from the city. But tenants are almost definitely in store for more legal foot-dragging from Tishman Speyer, which could be liable for some $200 million in damages. After fighting off the tenants' lawsuit for years, Tishman Speyer isn't just going to roll over, especially since the company is at high risk of default on some $4.4 billion in loans. Every million counts!
There may also be dozens of lawsuits brought by tenants of other buildings claiming that their landlords improperly deregulated apartments. All this is good news for the lawyers, and attorney Stephen Meister isn't ashamed to admit it, telling the Times, "Unfortunately for the real estate industry, I’m going to make a lot of money before this gets resolved. It’s going to take a long time." The State Court of Appeals has essentially left it to the State Supreme Court in Manhattan to hammer out the fine print, and landlords are freaking out about what impact this week's ruling will have.
As for Stuy Town, lawyers for tenants will try to seek damages as a class, while Tishman Speyer will probably try to litigate each and every case brought by the tenants. Meister tells the Times, "The overarching issue is retroactivity. The tenants could win anything from hundreds of millions of dollars to zero. They may not get a dime." In a separate article, the Times answers questions about what the Stuy Town ruling means for you. And this has not been a good week for Tishman Speyer: the company has been hit with a foreclosure lawsuit over $154 million in unpaid debt on a LA office park.