By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association filed a lawsuit against property owner Blackstone last week in response to an attempt to deregulate more than 6,000 apartments.
Blackstone is attempting to deregulate units that are currently under the J-51 tax exemption, which expires at the end of June, and increase rents on those apartments for leases renewed or starting in July or later. The private equity firm is arguing that the regulatory agreement Blackstone signed with the city in 2015 supersedes the rent laws the state legislature passed last June, but tenant advocates and local elected officials argued at a press conference in Stuy Town last Thursday that the rent laws abolished deregulation all apartments, regardless of previous agreements.
“The new law is clear and unambiguous,” Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg said. “Blackstone Group is of the opinion that these pro-tenant reforms do not apply to them. We disagree. They cannot disregard state rent law and raise rents and deregulate units as if the law had never been changed.”
State elected officials at the press conference said that they were very specific when writing the rent laws that passed and that Blackstone was not interpreting the law as it was intended.