Thursday, June 10, 2010

SUMMARY of the MAY 2010 GENERAL TENANTS MEETING - updated June 10, 2010


A Major Capital Improvement (“MCI”)  is an improvement that benefits the whole building, such as a new roof - even if the people on the 2nd floor never got leaks from the roof.  New York State's housing agency, the Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR) has a list of common work done in buildings and how long that work and specific items (like boilers) typically last. 

MCI's directly affect the rents of rent-stabilized and some commercial tenants.  (Tenants on SCRIE, DRIE, or Section 8 will not see any rent change. Neither will market-rate tenants.)  Within 2 years of completing the work, the building owner asks DHCR to increase the rent based on a formula.  

  1. The cost of the work (parts and labor) divided by 84 (the number of months in 7 years, for depreciation purposes). 
  2. That result is then divided the number of rooms in all the apartments in the building, whether market-rate or rent stabilized.
Given that arithmetic, Stellar has asked for  an increase of $20.72 per room.  If you have 4 rooms in your apartment, that would be 4 x $20.72, or $82.88.  On the notice given to all rent stabilized tenants, Stellar noted the number of rooms in YOUR apartment for MCI purposes.

But just because Stellar ASKED for it does not mean DHCR will grant it.  Our lawyer is working on a response for us as a group.  The first step is reviewing all of the landlord's papers, including the source of the money.  After all, the escrow account that was created when we left Mitchell-Lama covers some of the things that Stellar claims for hte MCI - and Stellar's senoir staff told us that a state grant covered the submetering. (Looks like Stellar's trying to double-dip again!)

Whatever amount DHCR may ultimately grant Stellar for an MCI, that increase could not happen all at once.   Our rents may not be increased more than 6% above any new lease you may have signed in a given year.  So if the total increase that DHCR awards would come to more than 6% of your apartment's rent, then it will spaced out:  6% above your previous rent the first year; another 6% above that rent the next year, and so on, until the full MCI increase is achieved.

If you had appliance surcharges under Mitchell-Lama that became par tof your rent stabilized base rent - and you haven't yet filed an appliance surcharge cvercharge case, contact Sue or Greg immediately for help in preparing it.  Tenants who have done it recently are getting DHCR orders reducing their rents within a few months - instead of a year or more. 
If you have a DHCR grant reducing your rent, you are legally entitled to pay the "Legally Regulated Rent" that DHCR has ordered - even if Stellar is biling you at a higher rate.  We suggest sending 2 checks:  one for the legally regulated rent, and one for the electric bill.  (Send them both in the envelope Stellar provides.)  If you have had a new lease go into effect since the DHCR letter, contact Sue for specifics.
We  need money for flyers, and to pay our lawyer for the MCI case (and possibly to hire an engineer), and for the ongoing "unique or peculiar circumstances" case.    So please give generously!  (Market-rate tenants: we're happy to help you figure out the logistics of trying to get your apartment back into rent stabilization.)

It was a terrific success, and people thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor-indoor combination.  Thanks to Debbie Gonzalez, Maxine Soares and Lydia Pitsirilos, the Pot Luck Planners, and to the many peolple who brought food, set up, and cleaned up.

FLOWERS: Thanks to Barbara Geller for providing and planting 1,000 daffodil bulbs that she donated so the front of our building looks good next spring.  And thanks to Mary Martin, Vernon Smith and Linda Umans for helping the plant the bulbs and other plants around the builidng.

If you are not handicapped, please do NOT use or make keys to be used for hte side door: everyone else sees it and wants one.  Please remind the building guard that you want anyone coming to your apartment to use the intercom.

Come see how the new voting machines work on Monday, June 28h  from 7:30 to  9 PM at the Second Presbyterian Church, 6 West 96th St. (the red door).
Thanks to Na'ava Ades, Prudence Opperman, Barbara Geller, Monica enkins, and Steve Koulish for participating in a Mitchell-Lama PIE Campaign telehpone bank to tenants in Senator Pedro Espada's district. (He is the head of the State Senate's housing committee.)  They have urged tenants in his district to call Espada to pass the bills we need!  Other tenants are going to do canvassing and door-knocking in Espada's district on June 19th.  If you are available to help, please contact Katie Goldstein, 212-608-4320, ext.400.  
Rent regulations are due to expire in 2011.  The Real Rent Reform Campaign is working to get them renewed this year, to expire in 2018 (a gubernatorial election year - good for tenants).  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is supporting it, but it is not clear if it will get through the Senate.  IF it gets through there is a slim possibility that our laws will get through too.

The Real Rent Reform Campaign is sending buses of tenants to Albany on 
  • Tuesday, June 15
  • Wednesday, June 16
  • Thursday, June 17, and
  • Monday, June 21.

If you'd like to get on the bus, contact Mary Tek, at Tenants & Neighbors.

If you have an issue to raise before that, please contact a member of the Executive Committee.