BRI News

Building and Realty Institute (BRI) Lawsuit Challenges N.Y. State’s Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA)

WHITE PLAINS – The Building and Realty Institute (BRI) of Westchester and Putnam Counties, Inc. announces the filing of a lawsuit against New York State’s recently-enacted Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA).

The BRI, the Apartment Owners Advisory Council (AOAC) and several multifamily property owners brought the action against The New York State Homes and Community Renewal Agency (HCR)/Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). The BRI filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of N.Y., in White Plains. Joining the BRI as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the AOAC and The Cooperative and Condominium Advisory Council (CCAC), both component associations of the BRI, as well as a group of BRI members and Westchester County Landlords who are affected by this legislation. The White Plains law firm of Finger & Finger, A Professional Corporation, Chief Counsel to the BRI and its affiliate organizations, is representing the BRI and the accompanying plaintiffs in the litigation.

By the lawsuit the Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the 2019 Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) of N.Y., the successor and amendment to the predecessor Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA). The HSTPA covers approximately 25,000 rental apartments in Westchester County, and certain provisions apply to approximately 500,000 other residences in the county (apartment dwellings, co-op apartments, single-family condominium units and single-family dwellings). The HSTPA was passed by the N.Y. State Legislature on Jun. 14, 2019 and became effective on or about that date, with some corrections on Jun. 25, 2019 and some provisions effective October 14, 2019. DHCR/HCR establishes the regulations and implementation of the HSTPA in Westchester and New York State and, therefore, Ruthanne Visnauskas, Commissioner of DHCR/HCR, is also a defendant in the litigation.

The lawsuit stresses that the HSTPA violates the U.S. Constitution and the N.Y. State Constitution and constitutes an unlawful “taking” without compensation and is an arbitrary exercise of governmental power. The HSTPA limits the Landlords’ financial ability to improve and maintain multifamily housing in those 21 communities in Westchester that have adopted ETPA, thereby reducing the quality of affordable multifamily housing available for rent. Without this income, the rent regulated Westchester multifamily housing will deteriorate in the coming years, to the detriment of both Tenants and Landlords.

The lawsuit submits that the HSTPA is arbitrary and irrational and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, as well as the Constitutional right prohibiting governmental interference with private contracts. The litigation cites that the HSTPA effects a physical, as well as a regulatory taking of property in violation of the Constitution’s Takings Clause, thereby making the HSTPA unconstitutional and stresses that “there can be no doubt that the HSTPA’s irrationality and arbitrariness, and its web of restrictions, overrides the fundamental rights of property owners and imposes unconstitutional burdens on property owners of pre-1974 buildings (the ETPA threshold).”

The court-filed Complaint also adds that the harmful effects of the HSTPA are not limited to the group of multi-family rent-regulated property owners already subject to its requirements, but, to the contrary, affects all property owners, including cooperatives, condominiums and single-family residences. The many ‘unintended consequences’ of the HSTPA include limiting the ability of cooperatives to investigate potential shareholders and, among other results, delaying the ability to collect overdue maintenance and additional charges.

The BRI is a building, realty and construction industry membership organization with more than 1,500 members in 14 counties of New York State. The AOAC of the BRI represents approximately 300 owners who are responsible for more than 17,000 rental units in the Westchester and Mid-Hudson Region. The CCAC of the BRI represents more than 400 co-op and condominium buildings and complexes in the Westchester and Mid-Hudson Region. Further information on the litigation can be obtained by calling Finger and Finger at (914) 949-0308, x302, or the BRI at (914) 273-0730.

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