Recommendations that would not require any amendment to the Rent Stabilization Code (RSC)
DHCR should update their “Notice to Tenant of MCI Rent Increase Application” form and process for notifying tenants that the landlord applied for an MCI.
The notice needs to reflect clear, “simple” language.
The updated form should clearly lay out acceptable oppositions and defenses tenants may raise in which DHCR will legitimately consider.
In addition to the form, DHCR should provide a one-page factsheet that contains instructions, details, and steps to oppose an MCI application.
DHCR should also include a one-sentence disclaimer fully translated in the Top 6 NYC languages so tenants understand that they may call DHCR if language access support is needed. (See NY Executive Order 26)
Tenants should instantly be granted 90 days to sign, date, and mail their responses.
Explicit instructions and guidance for the submission of FOIL/REC-1 requests should be included in the form.
In addition to the updated form, DHCR should provide and publish a factsheet that contains instructions, details, and steps to oppose an MCI application. The factsheet should also clearly lay out acceptable oppositions and defenses tenants may raise in objection the landlord’s application that DHCR will legitimately consider. In addition, this factsheet should also contain explicit instructions and guidance for the submission of FOIL/REC-1 requests.
DHCR should update lease renewal forms to ensure any Major Capital Improvement rent increases are clearly explained on the lease renewal form for tenants and indicate the allowable maximum rent increase per the 6% cap.
DHCR should compile and release a publicly accessible list of all decisions made by the agency in an online database.
DHCR should adopt a policy of examining and reviewing reasonable costs of materials claimed in a landlord’s MCI application. This should include a requirement that landlords submit documentation of actual purchase prices for all materials used in an MCI project (e.g., purchase receipts). In addition, DHCR should develop a guide that defines and outlines reasonable costs for commonly used materials, and any claimed costs that substantially exceed DHCR guidelines should trigger heightened scrutiny.
DHCR should notify tenants of an upcoming inspection in the evaluation of any MCI-related work with at least four weeks’ notice.
DHCR, HPD, and DOB should coordinate interagency information-sharing to identify when an owner of a building with more than one open violation per unit for the whole building has applied for an MCI. Buildings with a higher open violation per unit ratio should receive a roof to cellar survey from HPD before approval of the MCI application. If the building is surveyed and receives a grade of “Poor” or “Failing”, HPD should notify a local CBO that does tenant organizing and/or tenant advocacy work.
Recommendations that may require amendments to Rent Stabilization Code (RSC)
DHCR should amend the RSC to remove bathroom and kitchen modernizations from the current list of allowable MCI’s, as these are Individual Apartment Improvements that should require tenant written consent.
DHCR should amend the RSC to allow landlords only 90 days to apply for an MCI after the work has been completed.
DHCR should amend the RSC to require 75% tenant consent for all MCI applications (i.e., expanding the scope of the 75% tenant consent requirement at RSC [9 NYCRR] § 2522.4[a][iv] to apply to all MCIs).
What Have We Won?
DHCR has committed the following:
To increase the time allotted to tenants to respond to the initial MCI application notice from 30 days to 45 days
To developing a new FAQ sheet about MCI’s and how to oppose them
To revising their initial notice of MCI application to use clear language and provide more information about how to respond to the notice
To increase language access for non-English speakers
To continue meeting with the coalition and taking their feedback on new materials