STATE OF NEW YORK
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                               JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433

          APPEAL OF                               DOCKET NO.:
                   JOHN H. WINFREY,               DOCKET NO.:

                                                  PREMISES:  99-60 63rd Rd.
                                   PETITIONER     Apt. 1-Q, Queens, NY


          The above-named owner filed a timely petition for administrative 
          review of an order issued on April 18, 1988 concerning the housing 
          accommodations relating to the above-described docket number.

          The Commissioner has reviewed all of the evidence in the record and 
          has carefully considered that portion of the record relevant to the 
          issues raised in this petition. 

          The tenant commenced the proceeding below on October 5, 1987, by 
          filing a complaint asserting that the owner had failed to maintain 
          various services in the subject apartment.

          The tenant's complaint was transmitted to the owner on December 1, 
          1987, with this warning:

                    "Failure to file an answer within twenty (20) 
                    days from the date appearing on this notice 
                    shall be considered a default and may result 
                    in a determination based on the record as 
                    presently before the agency".

          By letter dated December 18, 1987, the owner requested an extension 
          until March 31, 1988 to interpose an answer to the complaint, 
          stating that "if we do not hear from you we must assume it has been 

          On January 7, 1988, the Division informed the owner about the need 
          for more specific information concerning the request for an 
          extension, including "schedules for commencing and completing the 


          The owner failed to respond to DHCR's request.

          Thereafter, on January 19, 1988, a physical inspection of the 
          subject apartment was conducted by a DHCR staff member who reported 
          that the hallway and bathroom walls were not painted, there is 
          vermin infestation in the apartment, and the kitchen cold water 
          faucet leaks.

          On March 18, 1988, the Administrator directed the restoration of 
          services and a reduction of the stabilized rent.

          In the petition for administrative review, the owner contends that 
          on March 17, 1988, it requested DHCR further extension to interpose 
          an answer until April 30, 1988, stating that "If we do hear from 
          you to the contrary we will assume such extension has been 
          granted".  The owner believes that its request for extension was 
          denied without proper notification.

          On July 15, 1988, a copy of the owner's petition was mailed to the 

          After careful consideration, the Commissioner is of the opinion 
          that the petition should be denied.

          The Administrator's determination was properly based on a timely 
          on-site inspection which found defective conditions in the 
          apartment, warranting a rent reduction. Accordingly, the order 
          appealed from was in all respects proper and is hereby sustained.

          In this case, the owner had ample opportunity to address the 
          allegations in the October 5, 1987 complaint, but failed to do so. 
          Though timely put on notice that it had 21 days to interpose an 
          answer, the owner requested on December 18, 1987 an extension to 
          file an answer four (4) months later, i.e. on March 31, 1988,  
          stating that "if we do not hear from you we must assume it has been 
          accepted."  Neither denying nor granting the request for an 
          extension,  DHCR sent the owner on January 7, 1988 a letter with an 
          inquiry for "schedules for commencing and completing the work." The 
          owner did not respond to DHCR's inquiry. The Commissioner notes 
          that the Division was not required to respond in writing to this 
          extension request and in the absence of a clear, written grant, the 
          owner should not assume that such a request would be granted.

          The owner's contention in the petition that on March 17, 1988, it 
          requested DHCR further extension to interpose an answer until April 
          30, 1988 is beyond the scope of administrative review, which is 
          limited to the issues and evidence before the Administrator.

          Accordingly, the Commissioner finds that the Administrator was not 
          in error in refusing to extend the owner's time to answer more than 
          four (4) months after the answer was due.


          The automatic stay of the retroactive rent abatement that resulted 
          by the filing of this petition is vacated upon issuance of this 
          Order and Opinion. 

          THEREFORE, in accordance with the Rent Stabilization Law and Code 
          it is ,

          ORDERED, that this petition be, and the same hereby is, denied, and 
          that the Rent Administrator's order be, and the same hereby is, 


                                                  JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                                  Deputy Commissioner


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