Like Trying to Stop a Steamroller with a Speed Bump

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At this point, just about everyone knows someone who used to live in Stuyvesant Town or Peter Cooper Village and now lives in an outer borough or another state because their rent got [jacked]. It’s quickly become yet another sadly predictable chapter in the story of how Manhattan became an impossible place to live.

Of course, the 25,000 tenants living in the 80-acre complex did what they could to keep from being [steamrolled out of the borough]. When Met Life put the complex on the market, the tenants put together their own bid, but of course, fell far short of the highest bidder: Tishman Speyer, who paid a whopping $5.4 billion for the 110 apartment buildings in October, making this exchange the biggest real estate deal ever in history. In January, the tenants tried another tactic and filed a lawsuit against Tishman Speyer and Met Life, which said that they should not have been able to take apartments out of the rent stabilization system because of tax breaks the companies had received.

The suit, which claims that Met Life and Tishman Speyer illegally charged market-rate for more than 3,000 apartments, just [got another supporter] in Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who filed an “amicus brief” today supporting the suit.

If successful – and that is an enormous “if” – the lawsuit would benefit all the current tenants and some who already moved out. Those who were living at Stuy Town and Cooper, and had to move out because their rent went market rate, stand to win several hundred million dollars in damages; those whose rent went market rate and decided to stay would have their rents rolled back to $2,000; and those who are still rent-regulated would be protected for 12 years.

Photo by Becca Tucker

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