Tenants Association: ‘Roberts’ and recent tenants should pay MCI increase — for now

Tenants Association attorney Tim Collins speaks to residents, while Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Brad Hoylman and TA Chair Susan Steinberg listen. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants Association attorney Tim Collins speaks to residents at a meeting in November, while Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Brad Hoylman and TA Chair Susan Steinberg listen. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After five MCIs (major capital improvement rent increases) were approved by the state housing agency last fall, residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village had their rents raised this month.

Though the ST-PCV Tenants Association has entered into talks with CWCapital and the state housing agency, NYS Homes and Community Renewal, over those rent hikes, in the meantime, the Association is advising “Roberts” class action members as well as those who moved in after the “Roberts” suit was settled to pay their MCIs. At least for now.

Previously, an attorney for the TA had told a resident at a public meeting held in November, who said she’d never gotten a notice about a pending MCI, that she wouldn’t have to pay it. This is because notice must be given to tenants when owners apply for an MCI. However, since the MCIs were for work done on the property by Tishman Speyer in 2009, before the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” suit determined that apartments in ST/PCV were illegally deregulated, tenants in market rate apartments (“Roberts” class members) never got the notices. MCIs are only applicable to rent-stabilized tenants.

“Most if not all of the Roberts and preferential rent tenants never received a notice,” the Tenants Association said in an email blast to neighbors on Friday afternoon. The email, which is also on the TA website (stpcvta.org), went on to note that preferential rent is a rent that is lower than the legal rent-regulated rent for an apartment and the amount a tenant actually agrees to pay. “Roberts” and post-“Roberts” tenants pay preferential rents.

Despite the lack of warning for those tenants, the TA said in its email that while the negotiations with CW continue, tenants should pay the MCIs.

“The TA is in negotiations over the MCIs with management, hoping to resolve them to the benefit of all tenants,” the Tenants Association said. “In the meantime you should pay them as billed. Doing so will not prejudice any of your rights. We will continue to keep you posted as the situation unfolds. Please read the joint statement from counsel for the TA, Management, and the Roberts tenants below:

“The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Tenants Association (ST/PCV-TA), Owner (PCV/ST) and New York State DHCR have been engaged in discussions attempting to reach a negotiated resolution to the recently issued MCI orders. The parties are hopeful that the matter will, in fact, be resolved in the near future.

“In the interim, Owner commenced billing the permanent portion of the MCI rent increase with January 2014 bills. If a negotiated settlement is reached, to the extent agreed upon, there will be an appropriate retroactive adjustment in the rent. Payment at this time will not prejudice any party’s rights or claims. Hence, counsel for all parties have agreed that the increases should be paid while negotiations continue.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment beyond the statement.

 

Susan Steinberg, chair for the Tenants Association, said the TA has heard from between 15 and 20 “Roberts” tenants who said they received the charges.

 

However, when asked about how the negotiations were going, Steinberg said she couldn’t say anything beyond the fact that they’re “ongoing.”

 

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