Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, CWCapital settle MCI dispute

Retroactive charges eliminated for all tenants who moved in before October, 2013, monthly charges eliminated for ‘Roberts’ and SCRIE/DRIE tenants and reduced by 5 percent for others

 

ST-PCV Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg, pictured at a rally in May against mid-lease rent increases (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

ST-PCV Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg, pictured at a rally in May against mid-lease rent increases (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
After months of negotiations, the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association and CWCapital settled the dispute over the five major capital improvements (MCIs) that residents were socked with at once last fall. On Thursday morning, the state housing agency, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, issued an order confirming the agreement, the Tenants Association announced.

The news, announced on the TA’s website, said that the settlement will “significantly reduce the impact of the recently approved MCIs for tenants.”
The settlement eliminates all of the retroactive charges for current tenants and reduces the monthly increases by 5 percent. “Roberts” tenants won’t be charged any monthly MCI, nor will SCRIE/DRIE tenants.
“The Tenants Association appreciates having been able to negotiate these issues amicably with CWCapital,” said TA Chair Susan Steinberg. “Residents have been saved a great deal of money in retroactive costs, which have been completely eliminated, and some relief in the MCI rent additions. Notably, the negotiations saved months of time and lots of money in legal filings and responses. The best news is that the outcome is at least as favorable to tenants as any we could have won the harder way.”
Andrew MacArthur, managing director of CWCapital Asset Management, also cheered the settlement.
“We are very pleased to have worked with the Tenants Association to reach a settlement,” said MacArthur. “We have worked closely with the TA to reach an agreement that mitigates the impact of the increases for our residents and brings finality to this dispute.”
The five MCI orders cover video intercoms, a security system, a video command center, water tanks/valves and repaving of the walkways. Two of the orders impact residents in Peter Cooper Village and three of them impact Stuyvesant Town residents.
The MCIs were requested by previous owner Tishman Speyer in 2009. After they were all approved by the DHCR in the fall,

Tenants pack a meeting on MCIs, held at the Simon Baruch Middle School auditorium last fall. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants pack a meeting on MCIs, held at the Simon Baruch Middle School auditorium last fall.
(Photo by Sabina Mollot)

the TA said it would be challenging them. In response, CWCapital made an offer to reduce the MCIs’ retroactive portion for tenants who’d agree not to challenge them, but the TA cautioned residents not to sign on to the offer. Negotiations between the TA and CW began soon after that.
“Squeezing every penny out of residents through MCIs long ago became a common practice in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “The Tenants Association wisely took advantage of an opportunity to negotiate a deal with CWCapital that will save tens of millions of dollars for residents over the next ten years. This is a victory for tenants that will mitigate the damage of imperfect law that favors landlords, and I am grateful for the Tenants Association’s efforts.”

Meanwhile, the settlement could still be nullified through additional challenges by individual tenants through PARs (petitions for administrative review.)
“Such PAR could result in the agreement being nullified in the sole discretion of the owner,” the TA said. “Nullification would result in forced repayment of the retroactive charges and any waived portion of the permanent charges by all tenants who benefited from the agreement. The possibility of nullification by the owner due to an ill-advised PAR is a very serious concern to the Tenants Association.”
Exceptions to this would be if a tenant filed a PAR for something like an inaccurate room count in his or her apartment, since MCI charges vary based on the amount of rooms.

According to the TA, a few more details of the settlement are as follows:
● All current residents are included in this settlement except those who moved in after the orders were issued (approximately October, 2013).
● The settlement is retroactive to January 1, 2014.
● Credits noted below will begin to appear on the May rent bill.
● In May, a retroactive credit will be added to the rent bill. This credit will include the benefit amount for January, February, March and April.
● The retroactive and permanent increase amounts noted below are all clearly stated in the MCI orders that residents received in the mail. This number is different for all residents and depends on many factors including: building, unit size and move-in date.
● If a resident cannot find his/her order, that resident is advised to call DHCR at 1-800-ASK-DHCR (1-800-275-3427) to request a duplicate copy.

The Tenants Association will hold a general meeting to discuss the settlement on Saturday, May 10 at 1 p.m. at Simon Baruch M.S. 104 on East 20th Street between First and Second Avenues.

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9 thoughts on “Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, CWCapital settle MCI dispute

  1. Thanks for effort of the Tenants Association in this MCI overcharge and negotiation.

    I would like to know, how long have residents been paying for MCI improvements that are now now not eligible. Many of the MCI increases, as correctly indicated, were not accurate (over-charged), incorrect in their application (didn’t work) and even “unreasonable added expenses” beyond what should have been covered by monthly rent payments.

    Specifically, what residents need to know is how much were residents charged monthly (or by formula) for each of these ineligible MCI “improvements” and for how long (what date did each begin).

    If these over-charges go back for years, and if each resident can determine their retroactive ineligable payments, why shouldn’t residents appeal (individually or collectively) to get their money back beyond the four months?

    Further and more costly is that these (ineligible) MCI increases were added to our base rent and compounded when each lease was renewed according to rent guideline board increases. If so, aren’t residents entitled to these past overcharges as well?

    This information can be calculated, is available and known. I don’t expect current management to provide it. However, the tenants association must know some facts and perhaps could provide it or, councilman Garodnick as our elected representative could provide this information.

    Since most individual communication to residents is difficult to respond directly, the Tenants association could reply even broadly in this important case.

    And perhaps as our local elected official, councilman Garodnick can use his resources (tax funded) to investigate and estimate each of these individual MCI overcharges, the dates they were enforced, and estimate just the compounded increases from the date they began and respond.

    Sincerely,

    William Oddo

    • Mr. Oddo–
      You seem to be confusing old MCIs with the latest bunch. Even though Tishman Speyer filed for them in 2009, we haven’t paid anything on them until this past January. Sorry to tell you that management can collect even if the “improvement” doesn’t work. Your recourse is file a Rent Reduction Application. That’s the law. Yeah, it sucks, so we should all do what we can to get it changed. That way we won’t have to keep fighting the same battle.

      • You can still file a PAR if you believe this to be wrong. I have heard of a group of tenants that is planning to do exactly that. I hope they advertise as I would love to join a REAL Tenants Association not this wannabe owner group headed by Garodnick and his lawyers looking to profit handsomely off this deal.

  2. Kudos to the ST/PCV Tenant’s Association. What a magnificent job they did. So glad that we contribute. I hope this makes everyone see how important it is to contribute to our TA. Their work doesn’t come cheap. Once again, great job. Thank you so much

  3. I just signed a petition to continue fighting these charges. Thankfully, someone is taking on the TA and its leaders CW.

  4. Pingback: More ‘Roberts’ payments to be sent out this month: Attorney | Town & Village Blog

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