New York State Senator Michael Gianaris and New York State Assemblyman Brian Barnwell have introduced legislation that would do away with Major Capital Improvements (MCI) for apartments in an effort to protect tenants’ rights. According to an article from Crain’s New York Business, the MCI program began in the 1970’s which allowed landlords to make capital improvements to their buildings and pass the costs onto the tenants by raising their rents.
Both the Senate and Assembly versions of the bill would call for the repeal of the MCI program, in which landlords can no longer raise the rents on their tenants in order to cover the costs of any future improvements to the building. The legislation would also call for the MCI applications that are currently under review to be denied. Meanwhile, any tenant whose rent increased during any existing improvement would be eligible to request a repeal of the increase with the Department of Homes and Community Renewal. If the repeal is granted, the landlord would have 30 days to reimburse the tenants.
Under the proposed legislation, instead of increasing the tenant’s rent, the landlords would receive a Guaranteed Habitability Protections Tax Credit in the amount determined by the N.Y.S. Division of Homes and Community Renewal.
In addition, the state would oversee the renovation projects and determine what repairs are needed. Any problems with the apartment that affects the tenant’s ability to reside in the apartment would have to be made within 30 days or the landlord would face a fine. However, if Homes and Community Renewal determines that an issue with the apartment is “life threatening” to the tenants, the agency would instruct the landlord to make the repairs within a timeframe set by the agency; failure to make the repairs or meet the deadline would also result in the landlord being fined.
In a joint press release, Assemblyman Barnwell said, “Under our legislation, landlords will not be able to increase tenants’ rents due to repairs/improvements the landlord should have already made.” Senator Gianaris added, “All New Yorkers deserve high quality, affordable homes and our proposal brings us closer to that goal by ensuring repairs are made without burdening tenants with unreasonable costs.”
Both bills are sitting in the Rules Committee.
It is important that tenants in rent-stabilized or rent-controlled apartments know their rights in order to protect themselves from being priced out by landlords who make the repairs and pass the costs onto their tenants. If you are unable to pay the higher rent, you may be evicted. If you or a loved one are facing landlord harassment, contact the experienced landlord-tenant attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. today at (718) 210-4744.