TA Lawsuit Challenges Costs for MCI Rent Increases
The STPCV Tenants Association has filed a lawsuit against the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). The lawsuit seeks a judgment to nullify DHCR’s recently promulgated Reasonable Cost Schedule (RCS) for major capital improvements (MCIs) as violating the provisions of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA).
MCIs are costs that housing owners may pass on to tenants and which become part of the base rent. They are a useful tool for owners to increase rents even during the term of a lease.
The TA contends that the MCI costs determined by the agency are not in fact reasonable, and that they include items not eligible for MCIs and which do not appear in the schedule, among other defects.
The suit, known as an Article 78, was filed on May 27, 2021, in New York State Supreme Court by attorney Seth Miller of Collins, Dobkin & Miller on behalf of the STPCV TA. The suit affects all current and future rent-regulated tenants in the state. All apartments in STPCV are rent regulated.
Keeping rents affordable is a paramount concern of the TA. Over decades, our community’s rents have been increased permanently by the cost of items that do not fit the requirements of an MCI. Nevertheless, DHCR has seen fit to approve them and thus undermine the available affordable housing stock in the community and elsewhere in the city and several counties.
Prior to a public hearing in September 2020, the TA engaged an expert to review all the costs. We were not surprised when he found almost all of them too high. He testified at the hearing as did several TA board members and our state and local elected representatives. Ours was the only district all of whose electeds testified at the hearing.
“For too long, rent-regulated tenants everywhere have been taken advantage of—and even defrauded—by owners and a state agency given to rubber-stamping any costs submitted to it, knowing full well tenants would be bearing the costs forever. DHCR must create a new Reasonable Cost Schedule that is in line with the letter and intention of the HSTPA,” said Susan Steinberg, President of the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.
Read the full press release for supporting statements from elected representatives and Tenants PAC.
Court filing, Index No. 155184/2021: https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/fbem/DocumentDisplayServlet?documentId=TKZPrwZsPawJV4NIBIQzMA==&system=prod
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