Tenants Questions Answered in Stuyvesant Town Conference Call

While the settlement agreement between the Tenants Councel and the defendants Tishman-Speyer has not yet concluded a conference call was held today for the tenants association members.
Questions had been previously emailed by the tenants and those present on the call to illuminate the facts were Council member Dan Garodnick, Councel for the plaintiffs Alex Schmidt and Congresswoman Carol Maloney.
It is now known that the highest court in New York ruled in favor for the tenants whose apartments had been improperly deregulated by managing partners Tishman-Speyer to receive re-regulation and refunds.
The settlement is still under negotiations all of which were elucidated in today’s conference call.
1. The settlement: Until the settlement has been finalized there will be an interim agreement lasting 7 weeks, a 7 week stay, if the defendants stipulate that this is a class action suit that interim agreement may be extended until July.
2. The new billing: Tenants will begin to receive their new rent stabilized rent bills in the next few days for the January billing cycle.
3. The rates: The calculations will be based from when the apartment was last stabilized plus the allowed 20% vacancy rate increase plus the allowed capital improvement increase of 1/40th of the cost of improvement plus the rent guideline board yearly rate increase (usually 3%) this will determine the rate of your new apartment. An example may be- $1500 last stabilized rent plus $300 vacancy rate plus $1000 (example for $40,000 capital improvements) plus 3% annual increase ( we will say 3 years for this example) equals $3059. This will be your new rate. However, if you pay less than this example that could be attributed to your actual apartment then the lesser number takes precedent. In some cases the market rate you pay may be lower than the stabilized rate.
But once you’re rate is calculated that will become your new stabilized rate. No one will receive any increases.
It has been estimated that 30-40% of all market rate tenants will not receive a reduction. In part because so many have re-negotiated their rents since the economic collapse began last September 2008.
So to summarize the agreement made was that whatever number is lower will be paid for the balance of the lease.
4. Tenants ready for their lease renewal:For people who renew their leases in the interim period they may be affected and will pay a higher rent. The maximum increase will be subject to the rent guideline board (usually 3%).
5. The 1/40th rule: This is a legal provision. A landlord can make improvements and charge this number. Currently it is an indefinite law to receive the costs even after the costs have been recouped. Counsel members are looking to change this to a 1/84th rule in addition to a limitation on recouping costs. They will argue to have costs limited once they have been fully recouped. Currently there is no limitation for landlords due to the current law which enables them to charge for capital improvements indefinitely.
6. How do you validate the capital improvement costs?: How can a tenant certify the investment made by the landlord? Invoices will be subpoenaed for MCI’s. An independent expert/consultant will be part of the scrutiny efforts. As negotiations continue in the settlement more legislative evaluation is to be considered. Going forward- newly rent stabilized tenants will be subject to the MCI increases.
No MCI’s have been calculated in the current rent stabilized rates- meaning in the future there could be additional charges factored in to these rents. However there is a State 2 year rule – state law has a statute of limitations if a landlord did not factor in the MCI charges during that period.
7. Apartments with forced vacancies: Vacancy rates entitle the landlord to receive a 20% increase but artificially created vacancies may affect the estimated rate. The landlord could be forced to roll back the rate. That is vacancies forced through deregulation would have received an improper increase. Each unit will be scrutinized to determine the proper rate.
8. The 10 step formula: An independent expert/consultant will be part of the scrutiny efforts to determine what exactly is the correct number to be appropriated for each affected market rate apartment.
9. Acceptance of the new rent rate:Do tenants waive their rights if they accept the final rental rate? No was the quick answer to this. The settlement agreement will bound all parties but tenants have the right to opt out of the settlement and may pursue litigation.
10. The refunds:Monies have been placed into an escrow account and have been turned over to joint custody to Tishman/and the attorney for the tenants. The attorneys for the tenants are looking to gain full control of the funds. Once this has been negotiated the refunds will be returned. Councel for the tenants hope this will be concluded by the end of January. The distribution of the funds has not been fully determined at this time. The retroactive discussions continue but will not be litigated while the 7 week or extended stay is in effect. Councel for the tenants stipulated that the defendants must agree to retroactive payments or there will be no settlement.
11. Former tenants: How can they make sure to participate fully? They should send an email which was suggested as better than a phone call to:liskow@whafh.com or doster@whafh.com
Please give your name/ current contact info-former address at PCVST- and the dates you lived there.
You will be made automatic members of the class action suit. There is no limitation at this time. But you must be placed in the databank. You are only eligible to receive escrow funds if you had been a resident after April 1 2009.
12. Tishman and foreclosure or bankruptcy: This case will be preserved as by New York State law. Damages and claims will be preserved.
13. Tenants in restored units: This question was asked by a tenant living in a restored apartment which is not the same as a renovated apartment. Councel remarked that this was a category worth investigating. But that it was likely to be the same process as with a renovated unit, the 1/40th rule.
And so after 90 minutes the conference call had concluded. It has been a terrific victory for affordable housing and on behalf of all the tenants, for which I am in that category I would to thank our advocates and legal Councel for their tremendous diligence and hard work. I will report on the first rent bill I receive in the coming days.

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