Major Capital Improvement

Is your NYC landlord planning to increase your rent to pay for a major capital improvement? The Law Offices of Attorney Eric Feinberg can help New York tenants contest this rent increase.

As a tenant, you have the right to contest a landlord’s application to The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) for a major capital improvement (MCI) rent increase.  The DHCR is the NY state agency responsible for administering the rent regulation laws.  If an application is made, you will receive a notice from the DHCR and be given an opportunity to review the landlord’s complete application. You will have a thirty-day period within which to comment.

Major capital improvements are generally building-wide improvements such as a roof replacement, installation of a new boiler, re-piping of the hot and cold water system, or rewiring throughout the building. The cost of asbestos abatement may be included, if done in conjunction with an MCI. Improvements to individual apartments are not considered MCI’s, unless the same improvement is made in all apartments, like installation of new windows. Ordinary repairs or the restoration of a service previously provided will not qualify as MCI’s.

New York major capital improvement rent increases are limited to 6% per year for rent stabilized apartments and 15% per year for rent controlled apartments. These increases become a permanent part of the rent and are not eliminated when the NYC landlord has recovered sufficient rent increases to pay for the costs of the MCI.

The DHCR will audit the landlord’s proof of expenses. MCI requests are often reduced by the DHCR during such review. If you believe the proof is wrong or inadequate, you may raise an objection.

There are a number of other grounds for NY tenants to object to the landlord’s MCI application. The application and the building should be carefully checked to see if all the work claimed was actually done, if the work was done poorly, or if the work done may not qualify as an MCI. Also, the item replaced must have exceeded its useful life according to a schedule published by the DHCR. The DHCR will only send one of its inspectors to look at the building if the tenants have raised an objection as to whether the work was done or as to the quality of the work.

In commenting on an MCI application, tenants should list all docket numbers of pending complaints of service reductions filed with the DHCR. Service reductions should also be detailed in the answer to the MCI application and may lead to dismissal of the application or postponement of the collectability of any MCI rent increase. Finally, check the room count given by the landlord for your apartment. The 1984 rent registration is not binding for this purpose. The definition for MCI purposes is contained in the landlord’s application papers.

Contact the Law Offices of Attorney Eric Feinberg to obtain help contesting a major capital improvement rent increase for New York City tenants.