It is important for tenants who care about their own affordable housing to sign the Public Member Pledge for the TA to represent you in the fight against the avalanche of MCIs and retroactive charges we have received. Time is of the essence now, as the TA has to file on Tuesday. (Don't forget that Monday is a holiday, Veteran's Day.) CWCapital is very worried about tenants getting together on this issue, which is why they will be making another sleazy offer soon to lower the temporary retroactive charges as they keep, of course, the MCI charges that will permanently burden your rent bill and, furthermore, provide a greater increase in your rent when you renew your lease. Affordable middle class housing is in serious trouble in PCVST, and we must take a united stand against the tactics that are directed toward eliminating such housing and forcing middle class tenants to move out. Please read the following that was posted on the TA website to understand the current situation:
Next Steps for MCI Rent Increase Orders and Summary of 11/2 MeetingLinks to forms and where they go can be found at the end of this post.
On Saturday, November 2nd, More than 500 tenants packed the IS 104 auditorium for a briefing on the TA’s pushback against the MCIs, a caution about CWCapital’s “Trojan Horse” offer to tenants, an update on where SCRIE/DRIE tenants stand, and how signing the Public Member Pledge and joining the Tenants Association can strengthen our challenge of the DHCR orders. Read on for details.
Request for Reconsideration
At the November 2 standing-room-only meeting at IS 104, the Tenants Association’s attorney, Tim Collins of Collins, Dobkins & Miller, arrived carrying a 15-pound stack of papers. They represent our Request for Reconsideration, which challenges DHCR’s failure to acknowledge or give consideration to Mr. Collins’s general and specific objections to the MCI application, which were served on DHCR on May 14, 2012. He also reviewed general MCI procedures. A complete set of the handouts given out at the meeting included a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) covering the MCI process, which may be found in the list of links at the end of this posting.
CWCapital’s “Offer” to Tenants
Referring to the letter from CWCapital that was slipped under all residents’ doors the evening before Saturday’s meeting, Mr.Collins pointed out a major catch in management’s “offer” to reduce the amount of retroactive charges to monthly bills for residents. By agreeing to such an arrangement, he noted, an individual tenant would also be agreeing to forgo all rights to challenge any of the MCI orders. He emphasized the need for solidarity among tenants and urged everyone to join the Tenants Association (if you are not already a member) and to sign the Public Member Pledge (PMP or pledge) (if you have not already done so).
Joining the TA and signing the pledge authorizes the Tenants Association and its Board of Directors to represent signees in responding to the DHCR claims and stay the collection of retroactive charges. Again, residents who were not at the meeting can find these documents in the list of links at the end of this posting.
The need for tenants to work together as a unit in order to fight the MCIs effectively was echoed by Council Member Dan Garodnick in discussing CWCapital’s Friday letter. He reviewed the history of the five MCIs that have hit Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in quick succession and spoke of the previous attempt by the TA to mediate them via a three-way meeting it arranged with CWCapital, DHCR, and TA leadership.
SCRIE/DRIE Exemption from MCIs Is Not Automatic: A Special Form Is Required
State Senator Brad Hoylman addressed the need for tenants eligible for the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program or Disabled Rent Increase Exemption program (DRIE) to file an Adjustment to Abatement Form in order to ensure they are exempt from MCI increases. These forms should be filed with the SCRIE Unit at the NYC Dept. of Finance. The SCRIE and DRIE forms can be found by clicking the link below, visiting the NYC Department of Finance website, or by phoning them (see the list of links below).
State Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh discussed legislative options available to ameliorate the effect of the unjust MCI law.Part of a larger rent regulation law, they have been the subject of a political battle between landlords and their allies on one side and tenant advocates and your elected officials on the other. Assemblymember Kavanagh and Senator Hoylman, with the support of your city and federal elected representatives and the Tenants Association, have fought to strengthen the rent laws in a variety of ways. Some of these changes deal specifically with making the MCI system fairer to tenants. These include: mandating that MCI rent increases end as soon as the landlord has collected the amount spent on work actually done, listing MCIs separately on the monthly rent bill and ensuring that annual increases in the base rent are not also applied to the MCI charges, prohibiting any MCI charges if a landlord has outstanding hazardous violations, and better defining and limiting what work can qualify for MCI increases so they only cover the cost of actual enhancements or upgrades, not merely repairs or replacement of existing services.
Why It Is Important for Tenants to Sign a Public Membership Pledge
Mr. Collins, emphasizing the connection between the pledge and the filing of a Petition for Administrative Review (PAR), explained that the Rent Stabilization Code (RSC) provides that the filing of a PAR stays the collection of retroactive MCIs (although not the prospective charges) until the PAR is decided. The signed pledges will be used in a consolidated PAR.
If the DHCR fails to rescind the recent rent increase orders as requested by Mr. Collins, tenants who sign the pledge will be protected from retroactive charges while the PAR is being reviewed. Tenants who do not sign a pledge will be exposed to the retroactive portion when it begins to be collected. PARs can sometimes take years to decide, so it is likely that people who do not sign up will be paying the retroactive portion unnecessarily while the PARs are pending.
Special Cases Calling for Individuals to File Their Own PARs
While individual tenants can file their own PARs, there is strength in filing as a group. However, there are tenants who may have a special case and should file an individual PAR.
For example, one tenant in Peter Cooper Village received two Orders, one showing her apartment as having four rooms and the other showing her apartment as having three rooms. This contradiction can be raised in a PAR challenging the assignment of increases where four rooms were claimed if, in fact, the tenant has only three.
Other tenants who took occupancy after the MCI applications were filed in 2009, but were not informed of a specific pending MCI application in their initial leases, will want to file individual PARs. They will have to attach a copy of their initial lease showing that the date of the lease postdates the application date of the MCI and that it does not reference that the MCI is pending and notify the tenant that it will be applied to increase the rent when decided.
None of these PARs needs to be elaborate. Just follow the instructions carefully and attach a brief but clear explanation of your objection with evidence demonstrating the error. A copy of the PAR form can be found in the group of links below.
Note again, however, that we do not advise filing individual PARs unless you have special circumstances. Such PARs could hinder the ability of the Tenants Association to achieve effective results for everyone.
List of Links to Forms (Where they Go) and Phone Numbers
The following resources below can all be found here in this (PDF) file:
Agenda for the 11/2 Emergency Meeting
TA Membership Application
Public Membership Pledge (PMP or pledge) [Page 3]
Letter from local electeds to DHCR Commissioner
MCI Frequently Asked Questions from our local electeds
The MCI Application Process Explained (this item prints on 8.5” x 14” paper)
SCRIE and DRIE Adjustment to Abatement Forms are available here:
SCRIE Adjustment to Abatement
DRIE Adjustment to Abatement
Those without computer access may phone the NYC Department of Finance at 311 to have the Adjustment to Abatement Forms mailed to them. Or you may visit the SCRIE/DRIE walk-in office, 8:30am - 4:30pm, at 66 John Street, 3rd floor, in Manhattan. Alternatively, tenants without computers and printers may visit Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh’s office, weekdays from 10am to 6 pm to pick up the SCRIE/DRIE forms. His district office is located at 237 1st Ave at 14th Street in Room 407 and the office phone is 212-979-9696.
[NOTE: Due to time constraints, membership pledges should now be dropped off at the drop boxes at Zeichner Liquors at 16th & 1st, Adriatic Pizzeria between 18 & 19 on 1st or Rite Way Pharmacy bet 21 & 22 on First.]
For more about file PARs (although we want to do this with a single master PAR for most):
DHCR Fact sheet #18 here: http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/factsheets/orafac18.htm
PAR form here: http://www.nyshcr.org/Forms/Rent/rar2.pdf