CI 110142 RO; CH 110094 RT


                                  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


          ----------------------------------x     SJR 6668 MANDAMUS

          IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE     ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
          APPEALS OF                              DOCKET NOS.:
                                                  CI110142RO
                                                  CH110094RT

          COPENHAGEN LEASING COMPANY and          RENT
          VERNELLE JONES                                        ADMINISTRATOR'S DOCKET     
                                                  NO.: CB 110105 S
                                 PETITIONERS            
          ----------------------------------x


            ORDER AND OPINION DENYING TENANT'S PETITION AND GRANTING IN PART  
                                 OWNER'S PETITION 

               The above referenced administrative appeals have been 
          consolidated for decision since both contain common issues of law 
          and fact.

               The above named petitioner-owner and petitioner-tenant filed 
          timely Petitions for Administrative Review against an order of the 
          Rent Administrator issued July 29, 1988. The order concerned 
          housing accommodations known as Apt 16B located at 96-08 57th 
          Avenue, Corona, N.Y.  The Administrator ordered a rent reduction 
          for failure to maintain required services.  

               Subsequently, the owner instituted a mandamus proceeding 
          pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules in New 
          York State Supreme Court.  A stipulation was entered into wherein 
          the agency agreed to issue a determination of the owner's petition 
          no later than March 5, 1993.

               The Commissioner has reviewed the record and carefully 
          considered that portion relevant to the issues raised by this 
          appeals.

               The tenant commenced this proceeding on March 1, 1988 by 
          filing a Statement of Complaint of Decrease in Services wherein she  
          alleged the following services deficiencies:

                    1.   Front door in need of painting over sill,













          CI 110142 RO; CH 110094 RT

                    2.   Entrance door in need of painting,

                    3.   Foyer wall near entrance door scratched and in need 
                         of painting,

                    4.   Foyer wall near bathroom and bedroom needs plaster 
                         and painting,

                    5.   Bathroom door sill rotted,

                    6.   Loose floor tiles,

                    7.   Living room window hard to open,

                    8.   Dining rooms windows defective,

                    9.   Bedroom window hard to open,

                   10.   Bedroom wall breaking under windows and requires 
                         fixing,

                   11.   Bedroom wall has cracks and peeling paint,

                   12.   Toilet not working due to plaster and tape being 
                         dropped inside,

                   13.   Bathroom wall above shower in need of fixing,

                   14.   Toilet seat broken,

                   15.   Bathroom washbowl lift in need of adjustment,

                   16.   Bathroom air vent needs cleaning,

                   17.   Bathroom door needs painting,

                   18.   Kitchen ceiling has leak,







          CI 110142 RO; CH 110094 RT

                   19.   Kitchen light fixture needs cover,

                   20.   Kitchen cabinet lock in need of adjustment,

                   21.   Window screens missing,

                   22.   Bathroom hot and cold water faucets need switching 
                         to correct components,

                   23.   Windows throughout apartment are unsafe and 
                         difficult to operate,

                   24.   Bedroom walls near closet scratched and in need of 
                         painting.

               The owner was served with a copy of the complaint and afforded 
          an opportunity to respond. The owner filed a response on March 30, 
          1988 and stated the following:

                    1.   The front door and door sill were painted,

                    2.   The owner did not have knowledge of the scratched 
                         foyer wall but would investigate,

                    3.   The foyer wall near the bathroom and bedroom were 
                         painted and plastered as confirmed by a DHCR 
                         inspection conducted in another proceeding in 
                         March, 1988,

                    4.   The bathroom door sill was replaced as confirmed by 
                         the inspection described above,

                    5.   Prior DHCR physical inspection confirmed that floor 
                         tiles were not loose but the owner stated it would 
                         reinspect to determine if there were new problems,

                    6.   The living room, dining room and bedroom windows 
                         were repaired as confirmed in the DHCR physical 
                         inspection conducted in March, 1988,

                    7.   The bedroom wall was repaired as confirmed by the 
                         DHCR inspection described above,

                    8.   The toilet has been repeatedly inspected by the 
                         DHCR and found to be operating properly,

                    9.   The bathroom wall above the shower has been 
                         repaired,

                   10.   A new toilet seat has been ordered,

                   11.   A new bathroom sink and vanity were installed and 












          CI 110142 RO; CH 110094 RT

               the owner will reinspect to see if there are 
                         problems,

                   12.   The bathroom door has been painted,

                   13.   No leak in the kitchen has ever been found by DHCR 
                         after repeated inspections,

                   14.   A cover has been ordered for the kitchen light 
                         fixture,
                   15.   The owner stated it had no prior knowledge about 
               the kitchen cabinet lock but said it would inspect 
               and make repairs,

                   16.   All window screens have been replaced,

                   17.   The March, 1988 DHCR inspection found that the hot 
                         and cold water faucets were properly labeled,

                    18.  The apartment windows have been inspected by the 
                         DHCR and found to be working properly.

          The owner further stated that many of the tenant's complaints were 
          ones which were the subjects of prior proceedings, that the DHCR 
          had found no services decreases at the time of those proceedings, 
          that many items in this complaint were duplicative and that the 
          tenant has refused to grant access for the owner to investigate the 
          complaints and make repairs.
           
               The Administrator ordered a physical inspection of the subject 
          apartment.  The inspection was conducted on June 17, 1988 and 
          revealed the following:

                    1.   Bathroom ceiling and walls have peeling paint and 
                         plaster,

                    2.   Two living room, two dining room and two bedroom 
                         windows are defective,

                    3.   Kitchen light fixture has missing dome,

                    4.   Two kitchen cabinet doors do not stay closed,

                    5.   Bathroom sink drain inoperative.

          The following services were found to have been maintained:

                    1.   No evidence of defective apartment entrance door,

                    2.   No evidence of defective bathroom door,

                    3.   No evidence of defective foyer floor tiles,






          CI 110142 RO; CH 110094 RT


                    4.   Toilet operative,

                    5.   Bathroom vent operative,

                    6.   Bathroom light fixture operative,

                    7.   No evidence of defective faucets.
           

               The Administrator issued the order here under review on July 
          29, 1988 and ordered a rent reduction of an amount equal to the 
          most recent guideline adjustment based on the report of the 
          inspector. 

               Both the owner and tenant have filed appeals from the 
          Administrator's order.  The owner states the following:      

                    1.   The finding regarding the bathroom sink drain is 
                         not based on any part of the complaint of the 
                         tenant,

                    2.   The tenant has refused to allow access to the owner 
                         to make any repairs,

                    3.   The inspection was conducted without notice to the 
                         owner nor an opportunity to be present.  The owner 
                         claims that its right to due process of law was 
                         violated by this failure,

                    4.   The conditions reported by the inspector were all 
                         reported corrected in prior DHCR proceedings 
                         instituted by the tenant or were minor conditions 
                         not warranting a rent reduction.

          The owner attached exhibits to the petition.  Some of the exhibits 
          documented the owners alleged attempts to gain entry to the subject 
          apartment.  Other exhibits documented the owner's alleged attempts 
          to make repairs once access had been obtained.

               The tenant filed a response to the petition on November 4, 
          1988 wherein she denied ever refusing access to the owner's 
          personnel.  The owner filed a reply on November 29, 1988 wherein it 
          essentially restated its claims that the tenant was denying access 
          and was filing frivolous complaints in an attempt to avoid paying 
          rent.  A further reply, to the same effect, was filed by the owner 
          on December 5, 1988.  On December 8, 1989 the owner filed a 
          supplement to the petition.  The supplement consisted of copies of 
          papers filed in an action brought by the owner against the tenant 
          in Housing Court.  This submission was a further attempt to 
          document the claim that the tenant refused to give access. The 
          owner's final submission to the Commissioner was filed on January 












          CI 110142 RO; CH 110094 RT

          11, 1989 wherein it argued that it had made numerous good faith 
          efforts to upgrade the premises and that the tenant continues to 
          file complaints seeking rent reductions after DHCR determinations 
          were issued finding that her complaints are without merit.

               In her petition for administrative review the tenant states 
          that the Administrator failed to make findings with regard to the 
          following:

                    1.   Peeling paint and plaster on the kitchen ceiling,

                    2.   Peeling paint, scratches and dirt on bedroom wall,

                    3.   Foyer wall scratched, dirty and blistering,

                    4.   Bathroom air vent in need of cleaning,

                    5.   Bathroom sprinklers placed on incorrect components,

                    6.   Entrance front door scratched and dirty,

                    7.   Entrance front door sill in need of repair.
           
               After careful review of the evidence in the record, the 
          Commissioner is of the opinion that the owner's petition should be 
          granted in part and that the tenant's petition should be denied.

               With regard to the tenant's petition the Commissioner has 
          reviewed the report of the DHCR inspector.  The report contains a 
          notation to the effect that peeling paint and plaster were found 
          only in the bathroom.  The inspector also reported that the front 
          door was not defective, that the bathroom air vent was operating, 
          and that the faucets were installed correctly.  The report of the 
          inspector is entitled to more probative weight than the assertions 
          of the tenant.  Her petition for administrative review is, 
          therefore, denied.

               With regard to the owner's petition, the Commissioner finds 
          three of the four stated grounds to be without merit.  Despite the 
          numerous attempts made by the owner to document the fact that the 
          tenant was refusing access, the Commissioner notes that by the 
          owner's own admission, access to the apartment was obtained on 
          several occasions.  It was the duty of the owner to make 
          workmanlike repairs to the apartment on those occasions.  The 
          report of the DHCR inspector clearly sets forth the problems in the 
          apartment.  As noted above, this report is entitled to more 
          probative weight than the statements of either party herein.  The 
          Commissioner notes that the owner has submitted copies of letters 
          and mailgrams, dated in 1985, 1986 and August, 1989 submitted in 
          other proceedings, wherein the owner demanded that the tenant 
          provide access to the owner's representatives.  The Commissioner 
          further notes, however, that said documentation either predates the 






          CI 110142 RO; CH 110094 RT

          complaint or postdates the Administrator's order.  Therefore, this 
          documentation is irrelevant in the consideration of whether the 
          Administrator was correct in issuing the order here under review.
          Moreover, the tenant disputes the owner's allegations, claiming 
          that the owner makes appointments for access but no one appears.  
          The tenant asserts she missed many days of work because of this and 
          her job is in jeopardy as a result.

               With regard to the owner's claim that it was entitled to 
          notice of the inspection and the right to be present, numerous 
          prior decisions of the Commissioner have held that due process 
          requires only that the owner be served a copy of the complaint in 
          order to put it on notice of the defective conditions in the 
          apartment.  There is no due process right to notice of the 
          inspection and the opportunity to be present.  The courts have 
          upheld this policy (see Empress Manor Apartments v. DHCR 147 A.D.2d 
          642, 538 N.Y.S.2d 49 [2nd Dept., 1989]).

               The Commissioner also rejects the owner's assertion that the 
          conditions cited in the Administrator's order are either too minor 
          or have been found maintained in other DHCR proceedings.  Pursuant 
          to Section 2523.4 of the Rent Stabilization Code, a tenant may 
          apply to the DHCR for a rent reduction based on decreased services 
          and the Administrator shall reduce the rent if it is found that the 
          said services are, in fact, not being maintained.  Pursuant to 
          Section 2520.6 (r) of the Code, repairs and maintenance fall within 
          the definition of required services.  The Commissioner finds that 
          the Administrator based this determination on the entire record 
          including the results of the on-site physical inspection conducted 
          on June 17, 1988.  It is irrelevant that prior DHCR orders have 
          found the owner to be maintaining the services which are the 
          subject of this order.  The duty of the owner to maintain required 
          services is ongoing.  Furthermore, prior orders of the Commissioner 
          have held that peeling paint and plaster, defective windows, 
          missing fixtures and defective closets are conditions for which a 
          rent reduction is warranted.

               The Commissioner agrees, however, that the Administrator was 
          incorrect in ordering a rent reduction for the bathroom sink drain. 
          The tenant stated in her complaint that the "wash bowl lift" 
          required adjustment.  The inspector found that the bathroom sink 
          drain was defective.  It was unclear from the tenant's complaint 
          that the drain was the condition being complained of.  Based on 
          this ambiguity, the Commissioner finds that the owner was not on 
          notice of this condition.  The owner's petition is granted in part 
          and the order here under review is modified to delete this finding.  
          Any future applications for rent restoration filed by the owner 
          need not allege that this condition has been corrected.  The order 
          here under review is affirmed as modified.  The tenant may file 
          another complaint giving a clearer explanation of this condition if 
          it remains uncorrected.













          CI 110142 RO; CH 110094 RT

               THEREFORE, pursuant to the Rent Stabilization Law and Code it 
          is 
               ORDERED, that the petition for administrative review filed by 
          the tenant be, and the same hereby is, denied, and it is further   
                            
               ORDERED, that the petition for administrative review filed by 
          the owner be, and the same hereby is, granted in part and that the 
          Rent Administrator's order be, and the same hereby is, affirmed as 
          modified herein.
          ISSUED:


                                                                             
                                             JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                             Deputy Commissioner
                                   
    

TenantNet Home | TenantNet Forum | New York Tenant Information
DHCR Information | DHCR Decisions | Housing Court Decisions | New York Rent Laws
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

Subscribe to our Mailing List!
Your Email      Full Name