BG 410238 RO
                                  STATE OF NEW YORK
                      DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                             JAMAICA, NEW YORK    11433




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          IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE
          APPEAL OF                            ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
                                               DOCKET NO.: BG 410238-RO
                 HELMSLEY - SPEAR, INC.,
                                               DRO DOCKET NO.:  AK 410599-S
                                               TENANT:  EZELLE HOPKINS  
                                 PETITIONER
          ----------------------------------X


            ORDER AND OPINION DENYING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
                                         AND
                           MODIFYING ADMINISTRATOR'S ORDER


          On July  23,  1987  the  above  named  petitioner-owner  filed  a
          Petition for Administrative Review against  an  order  issued  on
          June 18, 1987 by the District Rent  Administrator,   92-31  Union
          Hall Street, Jamaica, New York concerning housing  accommodations
          known as 251 West 91st Street, New York, New York,  Apartment  6A
          wherein the District Rent Administrator determined that the owner 
          had failed to maintain services and, based thereon,  reduced  the
          tenant's rent.

          The  issue  in  this  appeal  is  whether   the   District   Rent
          Administrator's order was warranted.

          The applicable sections of the Law are Sections  9  NYCRR  2520.6
          and 2525.2 of the Rent Stabilization Code and Section  26-514  of
          the Rent Stabilization Law.

          The Commissioner has reviewed all of the evidence in  the  record
          and has carefully considered that portion of the record  relevant
          to the issue raised by the administrative appeal.

          This proceeding was originally commenced on November 24, 1986  by
          the tenant filing a complaint of decrease in  services  in  which
          she alleged "defective stove,"  "defective living  room  window,"
          "apartment in need of painting and plastering,"   and  "holes  in
          floor."

          In a  response  dated  December  29,  1986  William  Harra,  Vice
          President of Helmsley - Spear, asserted in substance that he  had
          never been informed of any problems with the windows  other  than
          broken glass in 1984; that the tenant had an almost -  new  stove
          although she appeared confused as to  how  to  operate  the  oven
          portion; that the apartment was painted by the tenant about 2 1/2 
          years previous and would require painting in early Spring,  1987;
          that the tenant had never before complained  that  the  apartment






          BG 410238 RO
          needed painting; that he was not aware of any holes in the floor; 
          and that he had not received any complaints about such holes.  He 
          requested an inspection of the apartment so there  would  "be  no
          dispute as to its condition."

          On February 26, 1987 a staff member of the Division  conducted  a
          physical inspection of the subject premises,  and  reported  that
          the living room window sash was  rotted  and  peeling,  that  the
          window pane was loose, that wind was entering through a four-inch 
          hole in the sash, that the knobs on two of the pilot lights  were
          missing and the oven was  inoperative;  that  there  was  peeling
          paint and plaster on the ceilings and walls  of  all  rooms;  and
          that there were man-made grooves in the bedroom and  living  room
          floors, apparently used by a prior tenant to  support  partitions
          or gates.

          In an order issued on June 18, 1987, the Administrator determined 
          that the owner had failed to maintain services, and  reduced  the
          tenant's rent to the level in effect prior  to  the  most  recent
          guideline  increase,  effective  January  1,  1987.   Among   the
          decreased services the order listed "window pane is  broken"  and
          "kitchen stove pilots are missing defective oven."

          In this petition the owner's attorney contends in substance  that
          the owner was never served with the complaint; that an appeal  of
          another order in Docket No. AD 410752-S, involving similar issues 
          complained of by the  tenant,  is  currently  pending;  that  the
          peeling paint and plaster were repaired prior to the issuance  of
          the Administrator's order; that while any problem with the  stove
          is likely due to the tenant's inability to  operate  it  properly
          rather than mechanical failure, access will be needed to check on 
          the alleged malfunctioning; that the owner  is  by  letter  dated
          July 22, 1987 [the same day as its petition]  asking  the  tenant
          for access to determine repairs needed to the window and  floors;
          and that the ordered rent reduction should be  held  in  abeyance
          until the owner is provided access and given  an  opportunity  to
          repair.  With the petition is enclosed an affidavit from  William
          Hana swearing to substantially the same contentions.


          The Commissioner is of the opinion that this petition  should  be
          denied, and that the District Rent Administrator's  order  should
          be modified.

          Section 9 NYCRR 2525.2 of the Rent Stabilization Code requires an 
          owner to maintain the  services  described  in  Section  9  NYCRR
          2520.6, including repairs and maintenance.  Section 26-514 of the 
          Rent Stabilization Law  mandates  a  reduction  in  rent  upon  a
          finding that the owner has failed to maintain services.

          In the present case the evidence  of  record,  which  includes  a
          physical inspection  of  the  subject  premises,  discloses  that
          certain conditions at  the  subject  premises  were  in  need  of
          repair.  Accordingly, the Commissioner finds  that  the  District
          Rent Administrator's determination that the owner had  failed  to
          maintain  services  was  warranted  and  that  the  Administrator
          properly reduced the tenant's rent.  However, the reasons for the 
          reduction require modification.  The living room window pane  was
          not broken as stated by the Administrator, but loose.  Two  pilot






          BG 410238 RO
          light knobs, not  the  pilot  lights  themselves,  were  missing.
          Defective floors were found in the living room and  bedroom,  not
          the "entire apartment."

          Regarding Mr. Harra's contention that the owner was never  served
          with the tenant's complaint; his sworn affidavit to  that  effect
          would be more persuasive  were  it  not  for  the  fact  that  he
          submitted an answer to the complaint, referring to the  complaint
          by its assigned docket  number  as  well  as  responding  to  its
          specific allegations, in addition to  enclosing  the  Notice  and
          Transmittal of Tenant's Complaint form stamped  with  the  docket
          number.

          The other proceeding referred to (Docket  No.  AD  410752-S)  has
          limited relevance, since none of  the  service  decreases  found,
          other than "[s]tove needs repair, back burners  light  sporadic,"
          are similar to  those  in  the  present  case.   That  particular
          service decrease was affirmed on appeal (Docket  No.  BE  410378-
          RO).  It had been noted in an inspection that took  place  August
          25, 1986 (three months prior to the tenant's complaint about  the
          stove and other items in this  proceeding).   While  the  owner's
          contention that the stove can appear to be defective  to  someone
          who doesn't realize the need to wait up to 120  seconds  for  the
          glowhead to light a flame has some plausibility, the Commissioner 
          notes that two different inspectors both found the  stove  to  be
          defective.  Also, the owner does not indicate  that  any  attempt
          was made subsequent to the tenant's complaint to check  into  the
          tenant's complaint about the stove.

          While the owner contends that it is, more than a month after  the
          Administrator's order, requesting access to examine  the  windows
          and floors, such request (which in any case does  not  substitute
          for repairs)  has  not  bearing  on  the  issue  of  whether  the
          Administrator's order was warranted when issued.

          The owner's request that the rent reduction be held  in  abeyance
          until it is given an opportunity to repair is not granted, as its 
          attention was already directed to the claimed defects when it was 
          sent a copy of the tenant's complaint on December 15, 1986.   The
          owner's letter of two weeks later evidenced a belief  that  there
          were no defects, and an intention not to look into the claims but 
          to let  a  Division  of  Housing  and  Community  Renewal  (DHCR)
          inspector do it.  Since the inspection did confirm  each  of  the
          tenant's claims, it  was  appropriate  to  reduce  the  rent  for
          service decreases which the tenant was experiencing and which the 
          owner was informed of but did nothing  about.   While  the  owner
          claims to have repaired the peeling paint and  plaster  prior  to
          the Administrator's order (and presumably after the  inspection),
          the owner has not presented any evidence to support  such  claim.
          Even  if  such  repairs  were  made,  they  would   have   little
          significance in this proceeding.   The  other  items  of  service
          decrease found by  the  DHCR  inspector  suffice  to  uphold  the
          ordered rent reduction.  If the repairs were actually made,  then
          peeling paint and plaster would presumably not be  a  barrier  to
          approval of a rent restoration application.  This order is issued 
          without prejudice to the owner making such an  application  after
          services have been restored.

          THEREFORE, in accordance with  the  Rent  Stabilization  Law  and






          BG 410238 RO
          Code, it is

          ORDERED, that this petition be, and the same  hereby  is,  denied
          and that the District Rent Administrator's order be, and the same 
          hereby is, modified in accordance with this Order and Opinion.

                   



          ISSUED:

                                                  ------------------------
                                                  ELLIOT SANDER
                                                  Deputy Commissioner
           
             
    

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