Posted by Berkely on May 18, 2001 at 08:25:06:
In Reply to: Re: My building is filing for a Major Capital Improvement posted by Caroline on May 17, 2001 at 20:17:17:
First of all, GET A LAWYER and ORGANIZE THE OTHER TENANTS IN YOUR BUILDING!
Even with the relatively minor work that seems to have been done in your building, the Owner can raise your rent by a significant amount; can get retroactive monies from you extending back to when he first applies for the MCI as well as prospective rent increases... and these increases are PERMANENT over the life of the building.
But the key is that Owners frequently lie (lawyers like to say "misrepresent" but it's "lying") about the actual costs of the so-called improvements, and you need a lawyer to work with you when you go over the papers that the landlord has filed with the DHCR in applying for the MCI increase.
My landlord, almost three years ago, renovated the building over a period of a couple of years—new elevators, new plumbing, new toilets, new windows, pointing—and inflated the costs by as much as twice, according to lawyers and engineers we had examine the Owner's MCI filing.
But the real trouble you'll face is that unless you get everyone in the building involved and willing to commit funding to the cost of a lawyer (and you need a lawyer, and there are seveal good tenant lawyers in the city), you won't win.
The State of New York, working at the behest of the powerful landlord lobby, has so neutered the DHCR and its regulations that it is difficult to overturn a DHCR decision once the Owner is granted his MCI. Even with all the lies and inflated dollar figures the Owner put in his initial filing, our examination of the filing and subsequent pointing out of the lies merely served to allow the Owner to amend his original filing (don't believe the fine print on the MCI form that says that false statements are subject to penalty for the Owner ... the DHCR NEVER punishes a landlord, except perhaps in the most egregious cases).
The best thing to do, if you're dissatisfied with the improvements and the rent increases, and your attempts to bring justice for your tenant group, is to move ... which ironically is what the Owner would like you to do if you're rent stabilized ... and technically, you're still liable for the increases the landlord was granted, even if you DO move!
Get a lawyer but get one now! Get a copy of the Owner's MCI filing. Act now and commit yourself to a long, hard fight.
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