New York Court of Appeals Hears Arguments in Rent Guidelines Case

The New York Court of Appeals heard arguments February 8 in Casado v. Markus, a lawsuit filed by The Legal Aid Society and others, seeking to strike down what has been characterized as a "poor tax" against low-income tenants who have lived in an apartment for more than six years and pay less than $1,000 a month in rent. Ellen Davidson, a staff attorney in the Civil Practice's Law Reform Unit, argued the case. Approximately 300,000 renewal leases are affected.

In January 2010, in a major victory for New York City's rent stabilized tenants, New York State Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman struck down a 2008 supplemental adjustment imposed by the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB). In June 2010, the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, affirmed the lower court ruling. On June 19, 2008, the RGB adopted the 2008 Apartment and Loft Law #40, a supplemental adjustment for a new sub-class of housing accommodations.

With the support of Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council, The Legal Aid Society and Legal Services of New York City filed a lawsuit in September 2008 against the RGB, charging that it had exceeded its statutory authority. Justice Goodman vacated the portion of Order #40 which provides for the supplemental increase, declaring that the RGB does not have the authority to create a new class of housing accommodations and/or create rent adjustments not specifically authorized by the legislature.Justice Goodman also granted the motion of the New York City Council to file a memorandum of law as an amicus curiae in further support of the lawsuit.