2006_06_pocketchange.jpgFor a select few, timing and luck have blessed them with that Holy Moly Grail of NYC real estate - the rent controlled apartment. However, the tenants of these more-than-amazing deals tend to end up in court because building owners like money, and that is true of the Bay Ridge resident whose rent is $94.18 a month. The NY Times examines the Lisa Dittmer's lawsuit, which contends that she's been been overcharged by $84,465.80 since 1976. In Dittmer's lawsuit, the last legal change to the rent at 319 82nd Streetwas in 1983, when it was raised from $80.72 (the 1970 rent; Dittmar first rented the apartment in 1965), but as the building has been sold a number of times, those owners have charged her more.

An owner falsely listed the apartment as rent stabilized, instead of rent controlled, the lawsuit says, "in an intentional effort to trick plaintiff into a lease more than six times the legal rent." Under rent stabilization, landlords have more leeway to raise the rent.

In the lawsuit, Ms. Dittmer contends that her rent-controlled status was a matter of public record when Mr. Vaccaro bought the building, so he "knew or should have known what the maximum collectible rent for the unfurnished apartment was."

You would think that people buying a building would check that, because getting rent controlled and rent stabilized tenants out can be a long process.

Dittmer is asking for $350,000 from her current owners - three times what she was overcharged plus lawyers' fees. Her lawyer tells the Times that though many disagreements about rent discrepancies can result in free rent, "there's no way that could be the resolution, mathematically speaking." We broke out the calculator, and the $350K works out to 3716 months, or almost 310 years - no wonder cash is preferred!