By Sabina Mollot
Just one week after residents of Stuyvesant Town were hit with a major capital increase (MCI) for video intercoms and a security command center installed in 2009, residents of Peter Cooper began receiving notices in the mail that their rents too would be increased, in this case $10-$15 per apartment. The MCI, also for security upgrades, comes with a retroactive portion tenants are responsible for paying of $480-$650.
Though as of Friday, only two buildings got the notices, Susan Steinberg, chair of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, said that the rest of the buildings in PCV were also likely to get the same news, and possibly Stuy Town, too.
In a Facebook post, the Tenants Association said that its attorney Tim Collins filed objections in May of 2012 to this MCI “and as in the case of the ST Video Intercom MCI, these objections have either ignored or overlooked.”
Currently the Stuyvesant Town video intercom MCI is being disputed by the TA via a petition for administrative review (PAR) and Collins will also do the same for the latest MCI.
The Tenants Association said it has a few general objections to the MCI, which include claims that:
• The system replaced a full electronic security management system installed in Peter Cooper Village only in 2004. Before a system is replaced, it must have exceeded its useful life.
• Critical documentation, such as government permits, and plans and specifications were not submitted, but should have been. There were different contract amounts cited. Change orders lacked proper verifiable information. Some change orders were for repair and restoration not eligible for MCI rent increases.
• The security command center was a new facility installed at 518 East 20th Street. This security center was relocated to 317 Avenue C as part of an overall rental plan for retail spaces on the property. This work did not qualify for MCI treatment, even before Sandy destroyed the command center.
Steinberg added that she is concerned because “there are other MCIs out there and I would hate to think they are all going to be approved. What would be horrible is getting thousands in retroactive fees and the rest will be there forever unless something happens with our rent regulation laws.”
As with the Stuy Town MCI, the Tenants Association is asking that residents don’t file individual PARs at this time, but instead send the association the docket numbers that appear on their MCI documents.
The Tenants Association will be preparing a Google form for affected tenants to send the docket numbers and will soon be spreading the word via an email blast and building postings.
Steinberg also noted that the cost of fighting the MCIs is going to be pricey and requested that tenants consider making a donation to help with the effort.
“This is going to be an enormous legal fee,” said Steinberg.
MCIs are rent increases owners of rent stabilized properties can charge for making improvements and upgrades and are added to tenants’ base rent. According to the Tenants Association, there are currently five pending for ST/PCV. In 2009, the Tenants Association learned that 20 percent of the MCI applications filed in this city came from ST/PCV alone.
CWCapital has not yet responded to a request for comment.
This article has been revised to include additional information about the the Tenants Association’s arguments against the MCI.