How one UWS man got $876k from his landlord—AND a dirt-cheap rental

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What better way to kick off a cold January week than with the inspirational tale of an Upper West Side renter who not only scored a multi-million-dollar apartment for under $800/month, but also got an $876,619.10 refund from the landlord after years of overcharges?

Yes, real estate miracles really do happen.

Here's how it when down, according to the New York Post: Following a 2009 state Court of Appeals ruling barring building owners who receive tax breaks for renovations from taking apartments in the building out of rent regulation, 478 Central Park West resident  Lane Altschuler took his landlord to court for a "fraudulent scheme" to raise his rent. 

Since the building owner was receiving a J-51 tax abatement while converting the building to pricey condos, the appellate court has now ruled that he's required to pay damages for the overpriced market-rate rent—over $3,000 a month since Altschuler moved into the building in 2000—to the tune of more than $800,000. (In this type of case, courts often require landlords to pay triple the amount of the actual damages, hence the sky-high number.) 

Altschuler has also had his rent for the apartment rolled back to less than $800/month, according to the Post. (Meanwhile, a similar apartment in the building recently sold for $2.5 million, to give you an idea of what an unbelievably good deal this is.) 

Attorneys for the landlord say their client believed he was legally in the right to make the apartment market-rate, basing decisions on laws prior to the 2009 ruling, but in any case, this is a NYC tenant victory for the history books, not unlike those Hudson Yards renters who scored a $25 million buyout last fall.  There may be hope for the rest of us yet.


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