Appellate Division, First Department, Affirms in Casado, Striking Down "Poor Tax"
TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2010

The New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, issued a decision today, affirming a lower court ruling that struck down the minimum rent provisions in the 2008 and 2009 Rent Guideline Board orders, which imposed a "poor tax" on low-income, long-term tenants.

In a statement, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said: " I am very pleased with the First Department’s decision, which affirmed a lower court ruling that the Rent Guidelines Board cannot impose a “poor tax” on low-income, long-term tenants. The Court’s decision affects approximately 300,000 renewal leases, or 45% of rent stabilized leases that were being renewed.

The creation of this ‘poor tax’ was a direct attack by the Rent Guidelines Board on low-income tenants – the very New Yorkers hit hardest by the economic downturn. The City Council was proud to work with The Legal Aid Society and Legal Services of New York to help take this unjust burden off of tenants. I applaud the New York State Supreme Court and the First Department for recognizing that the Board penalized tenants for failing to move in a city where affordable housing is scarce, and finding that the Board exceeded its authority under City and State housing laws."

Attorneys handling the case from The Legal Aid Society include: Afua Atta-Mensah and Ellen Davidson, staff attorneys, and Judith Goldiner, Supervising Attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit.

"The Appellate Division recognized that the Rent Guidelines Board exceeded its authority and acted lawlessly in punishing New Yorkers for remaining in their homes and neighborhoods and for being poor," said Ellen Davidson. "This decision is a major victory for long term, low-income rent stabilized tenants in New York City."