Two TA Lawsuits to Save Tenants Money

Two TA Lawsuits to Save Tenants Money

The TA recently filed appeals in two important lawsuits:

Intercom MCI for 10 PCV buildings 
Management decided to replace the intercoms in PCV two years after Superstorm Sandy even though the old ones were still working and hadn’t outlived their useful life as determined by state agency Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). The owner should have sought a waiver, but they didn’t. DHCR, following its usual practice, granted the MCI anyway, reasoning that the MCI was acceptable because no MCI had been charged for the prior system. In our objections, our attorney pointed out that customary DHCR practice went against the Rent Stabilization Code. We have filed what’s known as an Article 78, the last appeal we can make. Aside from thinking that tenants in 10 buildings shouldn’t have to pay the MCI, we want DHCR to correct its practice for all future MCIs. Our appeal of the video intercom decision is due in June 2024, six months from notice of entry of the decision.

Reasonable Cost Schedule
With the passage of the landmark Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, DHCR was required to review the Reasonable Cost Schedule, the list of items eligible for Major Capital Improvement rent increases, as well as the costs permitted to be added to the rent for 30 years. Before the new RCS was promulgated, tenant advocates met with DHCR to discuss what would remain on the list, whether those items were truly eligible, and how the new costs would be determined. When the new RCS finally came out, many costs that advocates thought were ineligible were still on the list, and the costs themselves looked high.

The TA hired an expert to review all the costs, and he found many of them were indeed high. Along with legislators and TA board directors, he testified at a DHCR hearing in September 2020. DHCR has stuck with its list and costs, so the TA filed a lawsuit. On February 28, 2024, we filed objections to the ruling against us.

We are all paying MCIs, and those from before 2019 are in our rent forever, compounding with each lease renewal increase. Those from after the 2019 law are added at a lower percentage of the rent, compound with lease renewal increases, but will be removed after 30 years. Getting MCI costs justifiably lowered will affect all rent-stabilized tenants.