Are MCI Rent Increases About to Become a Thing of the Past?
Tenants in rent-stabilized housing across Long Island might notice their rents going up lately. Can they do anything about it?
This is happening because many landlords are concerned about state Senate efforts to end or limit MCI rent increases, an initiative the Governor is on board with.
Why is this happening?
Landlords want to get their rents up while they can still use them to offset the costs of major improvements to their buildings. Of course, despite an existing percentage cap (15%) these tend to be major rent increases: increases of $300 to $500 a month aren’t uncommon.
Opponents of MCI increases point out tenants wind up paying for a one-time cost for as long as they continue to live in the building. Many tenants get pushed out by rents they can no longer pay. Those who stay will keep paying long after the landlords have been reimbursed for the actual work.
They also note landlords are expected to keep their properties in good repair whether they get to pass the costs on to tenants or not.
Those in favor of allowing MCI to continue feel this will remove incentives for landlords to improve properties.
It’s also important to recognize these rent increases can sometimes be used as a way to push an apartment out of rent-control status. This can happen when the increase takes the rent about $2,500.
Tenants have rights in the face of MCI improvements.
First, seniors can apply for an exception that keeps their rates right where it is, an allowance made in recognition of the fact many seniors live on a fixed income.
But that doesn’t help other struggling families.
Tenants do have the right to protest MCI rent increases. The Division of Community Renewals offers a process they can use.
If tenants can show the increases did not meet MCI guidelines, that the work was shoddy, that the increase was fraudulent, or that the improvement came about as the result of delayed maintenance they could have grounds to block the rent increase.
Tenants can also block MCI increases if they can show major routine maintenance work remained unaddressed while the landlord poured money into work allowing him or her to increase the rent.
Landlords may also be required to pay back the difference between the increased rent and the old rent, and lower rents back to their original rental rates.
Struggling with unfair Long Island rent increases?
The Division of Community Renewals isn’t always inclined to protect tenants.
Blocking an MCI increase is a complex legal procedure and requires help from a savvy real estate lawyer. It’s not just a matter of filling out a form.
It requires court appearances, motions, and legal battles which can get quite intense.
Call today to find out how my office can help.