Trump Village Loses Utility Claim

Trump Village at 2940 Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. Image Credit: GoogleMaps.

Residents of Trump Village challenged size of rent reduction when Trump Village switched to individual electric metering. Trump Village, located at 2940 Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, has 433 rent-regulated apartments. In January 2006, Trump Village applied to the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal to convert Trump Village to individual electric metering and to separate the cost of electricity from rent payments of tenants. In June 2006, the Division approved Trump Village’s application, including a required rent reduction based on the Division’s Operational Bulletin 2003.  Some tenants filed for administrative review with the Division, which the Division rejected in April 2008.  In June 2008, Michael Knee, a tenant, along with the Concerned Tenants For Equitable Submetering commenced an article 78 challenging the rent reduction. They argued that the Division should have updated its Operational Bulletin 2003 using data from the 2005 NYC Housing Survey.  While the petition was pending, the Division updated the Operational Bulletin.

On November 14, 2008, the Kings County Supreme Court granted the tenants’ petition and sent the matter back to the Division to issue a new order on rent reduction based on the newly adopted Operational Bulletin. In the process the court amended the caption of the article 78, leaving Michael Knee as the sole petitioner.

The Division reconsidered the rent, applied the new Operational Bulletin, and increased the rent reduction. Trump Village, citing the revised article 78 caption, challenged the order. Trump Village argued that the rent reduction only applied to Michael Knee, and not the other 432 tenants. The Rent Administrator and the Division disagreed. Trump Village then filed a new article 78, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

The Appellate Division, First Department, rejected Trump Village’s petition. The court ruled that the earlier judgment applied to all of the tenants, not just Knee. The Court agreed that the Division’s decision to use the revised Operational Bulletin was neither arbitrary nor capricious, and that a rational basis existed for the Division’s decision to apply the revised rent reduction to all of the tenants.

Trump Village Apartments One Owner v. New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, 143 A.D.3d 996 (2d Dep’t Oct. 26, 2016) (Attorneys: Niles C. Welikson, for Owner; Gary R. Connor, Jack Kuttner, for DHCR).

By: Jane Rosales (Jane is a student at New York Law School, Class of 2017).

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