By Sabina Mollot
Six thousand New York City apartment tenants could miss out on their share of a $70 million court ordered rent rebate.
Attorney Alex Schmidt said this week that the clock is now ticking on filing a claim for their share of the money awarded following a long-running rent dispute with owners and former owners of the giant Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village apartment complexes on the East River.
“We don’t know if they threw out their [claim] papers or just forgot,” said Schmidt, of Wolf Haldenstein. “It could be that they’re confused, or they’re just living under a rock.”
When Schmidt announced last month that 22,000 current and former residents of Stuy Town who’d overpaid on their rent could get a check for upto $200,000 each, it was hailed as the biggest tenant settlement in history. The money was awarded after the courts found that Tishman Speyer, and before them Met Life, had illegally deregulated rents on the middle-income apartments while they were collecting a J-51 tax abatement from the city.
But with the May 15 deadline fast approaching, Schmidt said he is shocked — and confused — that some 6,000 eligible recipients of damages from the settlement have yet to file a claim. And he warned that if they don’t come forward, the left-over cash after everyone else has been paid will go right back to CWCapital, the debt collector currently running the complex.
“We want more people to file,” said Schmidt, noting that at least one tenant had told him he didn’t think he qualified because his rent has actually gone down three years ago.
That was the result of an earlier court deal to roll back rents on the 4,311 apartments affected by the case when it became clear that their rents were illegal.
There are some 11,000 apartments in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village, but not all of them were deregulated, so not every tenant is entitled to a share of the settlement.
But at least one tenant has already collected $200,000 after Schmidt said they had “vastly overpaid for many years.”
Class members are being urger to call the Berdon Claims Administration at 1-800-766-3330.