ZARA Realty receives 173 Million Dollar Mortgage Loan from M&T Bank, what will this mean for tenants?

This interactive map highlights the fifteen buildings ZARA intends to make construction improvements on in the coming years. Each icon shows the number of units, block number, and lot. It also shows the number of formal complaints, building and environmental violations, and any upcoming construction plans filed for this year.  Below is the mortgage agreement for $173,00,00 between ZARA and M&T Bank.

$143 MILLION LOAN 

ZARA Realty recently received a $173 million dollar mortgage loan from M&T Bank on November 27, 2018. According to a statement issued by ZARA Spokesman Jason Fink:

“We are making long-term investments in our buildings in Queens, modernizing and improving critical infrastructure and adding amenities for our tenants. These investments include upgrading heating and cooling systems to improve energy efficiency, installing new elevators, new roofs, gyms, new hallways in common areas, as well as new kitchens, bathrooms and flooring in individual units.”

The main concern among tenants is whether or not these improvements will qualify ZARA for an incentive called Major Capital Investments. If they do qualify then ZARA will be allowed to increase rent prices on all of the tenants living in the rent stabilized buildings outlined in the loan.

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OBTAINING AN MCI 

If a developer wants to obtain a MCI they have to get the construction improvements approved by the Division of Home and Community Renewal (DHCR) and lay out all their construction plans and costs in their RA-79 form. According to the DHCR, owners can qualify for Major Capital Investments if they met a number of qualifications such as:

1. Be depreciable pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code, other than for ordinary repairs.

2. Be for the operation, preservation and maintenance of the building.

3. Directly or indirectly benefit all tenants.

4. Meet the requirements set forth in the useful life schedule contained in the applicable Rent Regulations.

Owners can only apply for an MCI within two years after the construction has been completed. Since this $173 million loan has just been taken out tenants will have to wait at least two years before ZARA can file for an MCI with the DHCR. If ZARA does file for an MCI in the next two years, tenants can access the MCI and all the details of construction and costs by filling out a request form with the DHCR. If tenants are afraid of a MCI increase in the next couple of years they can keep an eye on and collect evidence of all the construction improvements that are being made to their building.

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TENANTS 

Tenants can fight an MCI increase and hold landlords accountable by collecting evidence and presenting a case to the DHCR when the MCI is filed. They have 35 days to submit an appeal to the DHCR once the MCI has been issued to the tenant. Issues that the tenant can track and present as evidence are not limited to the following.

• The work doesn’t benefit all tenants or doesn’t benefit the whole building. For example, the windows were only replaced on the third floor of a six-floor building.

• The work was not necessary and is cosmetic in nature only.

• The work was done on a system that has not out-lived its useful life, the owner previously received a MCI rent increase for this installation, and the building owner has not received a waiver from DHCR to replace the system.

• The work is for ordinary repairs and not for the operation, preservation, and maintenance of the building. Example, the owner patches over certain areas of the roof and does not replace the entire roofing system.

• The building owner did not properly document costs or did not properly calculate the costs.

• The building owner has harassed tenants. See DHCR Fact Sheet #17 available at www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/orafac17.pdf for further information and file a report if necessary with DHCR.

• The owner’s MCI application was filed more than two years after the work was completed.

• Owner did not obtain the appropriate approvals from the local municipality as required by law.

• Owner received a government grant or insurance proceeds to pay for some of the work.

For a complete list of tenant issues go to DHCR page.

Jamaica Queens is changing and luxury apartment buildings are on the rise. ZARA Realty is leading the way for these investments and with this new mortgage loan it will dominate the development scene in Jamaica. The president of the Rent Stabilization Association, Joseph Strasburg further promotes the importance of investing in New York real estate, ” —–”

About Emily Deluca

Emily DeLuca is a passionate photo and video journalist who wants to produce high quality and balanced documentaries that expose social injustice and tell incredible and inspiring stories about the human condition.