Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April rent bills

Rent Stabilized tenants: Your rent bill for April should include
  • the permanent MCI increase for your apartment based on the number of bedrooms:
    • 1 bedroom = $23.01  (retroactive amount for 10 months is $230.10)
    • 2 bedrooms = $30.68 (retroactive amount for 10 months is $306.80)
    • 3 bedrooms = $38.35 (retroactive amount for 10 months is $383.50).

    • the full retroactive amount (if you arranged for it with Stellar in advance of this month's rent bill)    or  
    • an installment payment toward the retroactive amount.    If you're paying the retroactive amount in installments, your TOTAL BILL INCREASE for the MCI will be 6% of whatever your lease said your rent was for April 2011.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Summary of the General Tenants Meeting - March 16, 2011

March 16, 2011


Elevators: If the elevators break down, keep a log.  If any elevator is out of service for over a day (or has any other serious problem), call 311, get a reference number, and give the number to a member of the Executive Committee.   And that includes the west side elevators getting stuck on the 2nd floor! Please request elevator and all other repairs in the requisition book at the guard’s desk in the lobby.

Real Rent Reform Campaign:  The R3 campaign wants 3 things: 
  •  renewal of the rent laws that expire on June 15, 2011
  •  the repeal of vacancy destabilization – which will put back into stabilization all the market-rate apartments in this building androll back their rents to what they were in January 2007; and
  •  making rent stabilized all buildings out of Mitchell-Lama or Project-based Section 8, regardless of when they leave or left and when they were built, and without “unique or peculiar circumstances” increases. 
But none of this will happen unless lots of tenants 
call Governor Cuomo at 212-681-4580 and ask him to support these 3 demands, or 
send him a letter, post-card, fax (518-474-1513), or email

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Executive Chamber
Albany, New York 12224

Check out the Calendar for activities to persuade Governor Cuomo to act in the interests of New York tenants.

Finances: Treasurer Joan Browne reported that our Valentine’s Day fundraiser was a great success – and THANKS to all those who have contributed $10 in dues ($25 for newly-joining households) and $100 for our legal fund.   If you’d like to contribute, please contact Joan (see below) or your floor captain.

Pot LuckWe had one last Spring, and it was fun, delicious, and a good way to meet neighbors.  It was great to be out in the backyard.  Join the Pot Luck Planners (Maxine Soares, Debbie Gonzalez and Lydia Pitsirilos) to help plan this one for SATURDAY, JUNE 4th in the Community Room and backyard.


Major Capital Improvement:
This will not affect SCRIE or DRIE tenants if they submit an “Adjustment of Abatement” form to SCRIE or DRIE.  (Contact your floor captain for the form, or click on SCRIE form or DRIE form to get and download it.)

For all other rent stabilized tenants:

The order is for an increase based on the number of bedrooms you have:
1 bedroom, permanent increase = $23.01.
2 bedrooms, permanent increase = $30.68.
3 bedrooms, permanent increase = $38.35.

In addition, since the MCI order was effective as of June 1, 2010 – and it has been 10 months from then to April 1, 2011 when Stellar is actually starting to charge the MCI addition,  we owe 10 months’ worth of RETROACTIVE amount. 

1 bedroom: 10 X $23.01 = $230.10.
2 bedrooms: 10 X $30.68 = $306.80.
3 bedrooms: 10 X 38.35 = $383.50.

That retroactive amount will be added in installments to your rent bill.  For easier bookkeeping, you may be able to pay the retroactive amount at once (rather than installments) if you contact the secretary of Francine Schiff at Stellar Management, 212-406-0030 and ask if Stellar can add it to your next rent bill.

Get a sense of what your increase will be each month if you pay the retroactive amount in installments by multiplying your rent by 1.06.  Note that those figures do NOT include any lease renewal increases.  Those will be on top of the Major Capital Installment permanent increase.

“Unique or Peculiar” case:  The state’s housing agency (DHCR is now called HCR) denied the application that Stellar had filed in 2005 for “unique or peculiar” increases to our initial rent stabilized rent.  However, Stellar may appeal, and in the meantime, the court case goes on:  Owners challenged DHCR’s regulation that says that just leaving Mitchell-Lama is NOT a “unique or peculiar” circumstance justifying a rent increase.  DHCR and tenants prevailed in the first state court (State Supreme Court), and in the mid-level Appellate Division (unanimously!).  Now the one owner left in the case is seeking permission to appeal to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

FOR ALL TENANTS: Got questions or suggestions? Let us know!

The Executive Committee

Sue Susman
Na’ava Ades
Joan Browne
Rich Jordan
Steve Koulish
Greg Murray

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rent Law Battle Heating Up

How you can help:

  1. Call Governor Cuomo at 212-681-4580 and ask him to support the renewal and strengthening of the rent laws in the budget,specifically the repeal of vacancy destabilization. 
  2. Send a letter or postcard to Gov. Cuomo  (look below on this website, or contact your floor captain for a sample).
  3. March at 4:30 PM on Monday, March 21st starting from 42nd St. & Park (near Grand Central). Contact Steve Koulish for more details. 
  4. Hand out flyers at Grand Central Station and elsewhere! 
  5. Come to Albany! R3 is arranging daily mobilizations. Contact or Steve Koulish in this building if you are interested in going up on:
  • Tuesday, March 22nd with Tenants & Neighbors
  • Tuesday, March 29th with Goddard-Riverside Community Center and other groups.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Coming Wednesday: General Tenants Meeting!

    Come to our 


    this Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    8 PM in the Community Room 

    • Report from the Real Rent Reform Campaign and how you can take action to support 
      • renewing the rent stabilization law before it expires in 3 months (on June 15, 2011);
      • putting into rent stabilization all the market-rate apartments in our building and rolling the rents back to what they were in January 2007 - by repealing vacancy decontrol
      • ending "unique or peculiar" increases permanently. 
    • Major Capital Improvement
      • how to calculate it (bring a slip of paper with your actual rent amount  - not including electricity - or click on: CALCULATE - not including lease renewal increases.
      • can you pay off the retroactive amount all at once? YES: Contact Stellar Management (ask for Francine Schiff's secretary): 212-406-0030.  Ask her to include the full retroactive amount in your APRIL rent bill.
    •  "Unique or Peculiar" case (we keep winning), and what to expect
    •  Elevators and more building issues.

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    SCRIE & DRIE Tenants & the MCI

    Tenants on SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) and DRIE (Disabled Rent Increase Exemption) will NOT pay the Major Capital Improvement (MCI) increase every month.  BUT

    (1) You must pay (just once) the increased security resulting from the MCI's increase for your apartment.  
    1 bedroom apartment: $23.01
    2 bedroom apartment: $30.68
    3 bedroom apartment: $38.35.

    (2) You must notify DRIE or SCRIE using a form called "Adjustment of Abatement" about the MCI so that the government can pay Stellar the increase.  
    SCRIE tenants can find the form at .
    You will need to fill in your SCRIE Docket Number.

    DRIE tenants can find the form at
    You will need to fill in your DRIE Case Number.

    • Fill in the form, including your Docket or Case Number.  Check "Major Capital Improvement" in the Section II.  Sign and date the form in Section 8.
    • Attach a copy of the DHCR order granting the MCI to the form.
    • Send them together to the address on the form:

    NYC Department of Finance
    Attn: SCRIE (or if you're on DRIE, write, "Attn. DRIE")
    59 Maiden Lane, 22nd Floor
    New York, NY 10038.

    If you do not have a copy of the DHCR order granting the MCI, please contact Sue

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Call or Write Governor Cuomo

    The rent-stabilization and rent-control laws that provide basic rent and eviction protections for 2.5 million New Yorkers are set to expire this June, putting affordable housing of some 2.5 million New Yorkers - including us - in jeopardy. While Governor Cuomo’s staff has indicated some willingness to roll the renewal of rent regulations into the budget process, this still hasn’t happened. We need to keep the pressure on the Governor to act sooner rather than later to renew and strengthen the rent laws.

    Please CALL or WRITE the Governor.

    IF YOU CALL (518-474-8390), here's a script you may want to use:

    Hi, my name is _________ and I’m calling to ask Governor Cuomo to protect tenants by renewing and strengthening rent laws.  We need the Governor to stand up to special interests and protect millions of everyday New Yorkers and their families. Please tell Governor Cuomo to support renters, repeal vacancy destabilization, and save tenants in former Mitchell-Lamas. 

    IF YOU WRITE , here's a sample letter you may want to use:
    E-mail him through his website at:
    Fax him at  518-474-1513 or send the letter by regular mail at the address on the letter:

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
    Executive Chamber
    Albany, New York 12224

    Re: Strengthen Rent Laws Now

    Dear Governor Cuomo:

        I urge you to support full repeal of vacancy destabilization, and re-regulation of the hundreds of thousands of apartments that have been deregulated during the last two decades.

        Restoration of our rent laws is necessary for the future economic and social health of New York State.


    (your name signed)
    (your name & address printed)

    The Real Rent Reform Campaign (R3) is working for ALL of us - including the market-rate tenants who need the protections of rent regulation.  If you can

    • flyer
    • phonebank
    • come out for rallies or town hall meetings
    please contact Sue or Steve!

    For updates and more information on the R-3 Campaign, visit: ; and "friend" R3 on Facebook at .

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Our building & neighbor in West Side Spirit report

    West Side Spirit

    An Apartment as a Lifeline

    By Megan Finnegan

    Nery Cruz has lived in her apartment on 97th Street for 31 years, and she has never been more fearful for her future.

    Cruz, 60, shares her two-bedroom apartment with her daughter, a teacher with an Ivy League education and a master’s degree who can’t find work. Cruz works full time as a social worker at a hospital. She just renewed her lease again, for $679 a month.

    While the price might seem like a steal, it’s all that Cruz says she can afford, and she’s terrified of what will happen if rent-regulation laws aren’t renewed and strengthened this year.

    “If the rent goes up, where are we going to live? We’re going to end up in shelters,” said Cruz. She said that rents on some neighbors’ apartments, after they have been vacated, have been jacked up to the $3000 range, forever pushing them out of rent regulation.

    Cruz fears that her landlord wants her to leave in order do the same thing to her apartment.

    Nery Cruz fears what will happen to poor people in the city if rent-control laws expire. Photo by Andrew Schwartz

    “The superintendent told me last year, oh you know a lot of people are moving,” said Cruz. The landlord has offered current tenants $50,000 to vacate their apartments and give up their stabilized leases, but Cruz said she still couldn’t afford to leave her home of over three decades.

    She said that she’s seen landlords in similar buildings in her neighborhood install cheap updates, like linoleum flooring, and then adjust the rent to over the $2,000 regulation threshold. Lately she’s had a hard time getting things fixed in her apartment, and she suspects that its all part of a tactic to get her to move out.

    Cruz’s greatest concern is that her rent will suddenly skyrocket to five or six times what it is now, as she’s seen happen to apartments in her area brought to market rate.

    “I cannot be paying rent, with the salary that I have, that is $3,800,” Cruz said. “There’s no place to live in New York because of the rent. The salaries, they don’t go up, they go down.”

    West Side Spirit,

    See also "Rents Through the Roof," 

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Rent Stabilized tenants: Calculate your MCI increase (more or less)

    Thanks to tenant Janak Ramakrishnan for creating an on-line calculator.  It is for tenants who choose to pay off the retroactive part of the MCI (Major Capital Improvement) month by month.  (There is no disadvantage if you do that.)

    If you click here, you can type in the rent on your current lease and the number of bedrooms in your apartment, and calculate approximately 
    • your rent bill for April 2011 
    • your permanent MCI increase
    • how many months it will take you to pay off the retroactive amount in installments
    • your monthly installment (paying off the retroactive amount) for the first year
    • your monthly installment (paying off the retroactive amount)  for some months into the second year.
    This figure will only be APPROXIMATE since it does not take into account when and whether your lease will be renewed during this period, and whether any lease renewal is for one or two years.

    The MCI increase is on top of any lease renewal increase.  So if your lease renewal increase is 6% for example, and the MCI is roughly 6%, that would make roughly a 12% increase in your current rent.

    Click here or above for the calculator

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    General Tenants Meeting - Wed., March 16, 2011

    Come to a 


    Wed., March 16th
    8 PM - in the Community Room 

    Get a copy of the Tenants Bill of Rights  that applies to ALL tenants (regulated and market-rate).  If the bill is passed by the NYC Council, it will have to be posted in every apartment building). 

    We will discuss:

    (1) The MCI (Major Capital Improvement) increase - which is generally under 6% of your rent stabilized rent.

    (2)  DHCR's denial of Stellar's application for "unique or peculiar circumstances" increases in our rent.

    (3) The Real Rent Reform Campaign  (on facebook and see the main website at ), including the Omnibus Rent and other bills.  
    Please bring a chair and a neighbor!