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
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,
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.