Rule 2-01 Testimony: Milestone Transparency

Last summer NYC Loft Tenants participated in the hearing on Rule 2-12 to ask that the Loft Board make milestone rent increases transparent. This way tenants would know when a rent increase is legal and wouldn’t be at risk of retroactive increases. This remains a serious issue and we urge the Loft Board to consider our renewed request.¬†

NYCLT offers a biweekly free and public Housing Clinic to help educate and empower tenants during the application and legalization process. We are frequently asked to help tenants understand what their legal rent is and where their building is in the process. We continually hear stories about landlords, under the new law, asking for rent increases which may or may not be based on milestones achieved. It is generally not easy to determine a building’s milestone by looking on BIS, because most buildings under the new law have had numerous earlier attempts at legalization and it is not clear which permits are valid. We are also seeing an increasing number of landlords under the old law suing their tenants for 10 to 15 years of retroactive rent increases which the landlord somehow forgot to ask for previously.

We’re here today with a simple solution: require landlords to notify their tenants about milestone increases and provide proof that the milestone was reached. As it happens, in Rule 2-01 the landlord is already required to provide proof of each milestone to the Loft Board; we simply ask that the landlord be required to deliver a copy of this proof to the tenants as well.

The first milestone is when a landlord has filed an alteration application. They are supposed to deliver the Narrative Statement to tenants within 15 days, and then deliver the proofs of service and a copy of the application to the the Loft Board. Why not have them include a copy of the alteration application with the Narrative Statement?  This would also eliminate the frequent problem of landlords delivering Narrative Statements to tenants without having completed plans or an alteration application.

The second milestone is when the DOB issues a building permit to the owner: the owner is required to file a copy of the permit with the Loft Board. Why not also have them deliver copies of the permit to tenants as well?

The final milestone is when the landlord has achieved 7B certification or a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. Again, the landlord is obligated to deliver the certificate to the Loft Board; why not have them also deliver copies to the tenants? There is currently no way to find out if this milestone has been reached except by calling the Loft Board.

By these simple means, tenants would not be surprised by an increase, and can be sure it is legitimate. It means less stress for tenants, many less confused calls to the Loft Board and greater legal clarity.

Thank you,
NYCLT

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