No More MCIs Coalition, Gianaris, Barnwell Announce New Legislation (National Herald)
NEW YORK – The No More MCIs Coalition, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, and Assemblymember Brian Barnwell announced on February 22 the introduction of new, progressive legislation which would end the Major Capital Improvement (MCI) program that allows landlords to pass along the costs of questionable apartment repairs to rent regulated tenants. They announced this legislation during a press conference in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle.
“Too many tenants are priced out of their homes because of MCIs whose only improvement seems to be the landlord’s bottom line,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “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.”
“The Major Capital Improvement program is responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in rent increases on rent regulated tenants, said Assembly Member Brian Barnwell. “It is unacceptable that we maintain a program pushing middle to low income New Yorkers out of their homes while allowing landlords to continue to make monstrous profits. Under our legislation, landlords will not be able to increase tenants’ rents due to repairs/improvements the landlord should already have made.”
“These MCIs has been affecting the community heavily since 1969. Cosmopolitan tenants along with Woodside On The Move started to fight these ridiculous rent increases in 2017. It’s time for the abolishing of the MCI’s for all tenants and taking away the power from all greedy landlords,” said tenant leader Nilda Rivera, part of the No More MCIs campaign.
The existing MCI program was enacted in the 1970s as a way to incent landlords to perform repairs on rent regulated apartments. Since that time, abuse of the program is well documented, included being featured in a lengthy New York Times exposé highlighting bad business practices of Donald Trump and his father, Fred, in their real estate business. In some buildings, MCI increases are so high, they increase rent beyond the $2,700 threshold required to regulate an apartment.
Currently, MCIs must be submitted by landlords for approval by the New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR). The agency’s standard practice is to approve requests with minimal oversight. Tenants are allowed to challenge increases, but have only 45 days following being given notice of increases to do so.
Senator Gianaris and Assembly Member Barnwell’s legislation would eliminate the MCI program and would repeal MCIs issued within the last seven years.
The No More MCIs Coalition, comprised of New York City organizations from Queens to the Bronx, have been working attentively with tenant leaders and elected officials from their respective districts to emphasize the urgency to pass a bill that would prevent communities from displacement. Members of the coalition include: Woodside On the Move (Queens), CASA (Bronx), Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (Bronx), CAAAV (Manhattan), Good Old Lower East Side (Manhattan), Catholic Migration Service (Queens), MinKwon Center (Queens).