Councilman Dan Garodnick Calls Stuyvesant Town and Waterside Plaza Hurricane Sandy "Releases" Likely Unenforceable

CW Capital, the special servicer for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, this week quietly slipped notices into residents' reduced January rent bills claiming that acceptance of the lower rent -- abated for Sandy-related loss of services -- will "release" the owner from any legal claims, regardless of whether they have to do with service loss.

"This is a crass effort to try to extract a broad release from residents that many people will not even realize is happening," said Councilman Garodnick, a resident of Peter Cooper Village.  "So much for good will," he added.

On behalf of CW Capital, Managing Director Andrew MacArthur announced the abatements on November 6, saying:  "As a demonstration of our commitment, and in appreciation for all that you have been through since last Monday night, I am announcing that anyone who has been without heat, elevator service or electricity will not be charged rent for any day in which they were without one or more of these services."

Garodnick observed:  "That was the representation made to the community, with no strings attached.  Now they are telling residents,to the extent they even see the notice in their rent bill, that acceptance of the lower rent will release CW Capital from any Sandy-related claims, at any time, no matter whether they even know they have a claim."

The notice in the January rent bills in Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town provides as follows:  "Please be aware that this credit is being provided as full and complete settlement and satisfaction of any and all claims related to Hurricane Sandy.  By paying the lower rent this month, reflecting the abated amount, you agree to and do waive and release any and all claims which you may currently have or had in the past against the Owner or its heirs, successors or assignees, in connection with Hurricane Sandy. If you choose not to waive these rights, then you are required to pay your full monthly rent."

Waterside Plaza uses similar language:  "[B]y remitting your rent check reflecting this credit, you confirm your agreement that any and all claims by you against Waterside Plaza or its successors or assignees, in connection with Hurricane Sandy, are fully resolved."

"These releases are overbroad, not sufficiently clear, and likely unenforceable because residents are not actually agreeing to the terms," Garodnick said.    "I am disappointed that what was a very positive, and much appreciated move by both CW and Waterside is now being perceived as an attempt to manipulate tenants into believing they have waived their rights to claims of any type, forever."

Garodnick called on CW Capital and Waterside Plaza to publicly acknowledge that these releases are not binding on residents.