STATE OF NEW YORK
DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL
OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
92-31 UNION HALL STREET
JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433
IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
APPEAL OF DOCKET NO.:
RICHARD ALBERT, DOCKET NO.:
PREMISES: 93-47 222nd St.
PETITIONER Queens Village, NY
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
IN PART AND MODIFYING RENT ADMINISTRATOR'S ORDER
On December 16, 1988, the above-named owner filed a petition for
administrative review against an order issued on December 8, 1988,
by a Rent Administrator wherein a rent reduction was ordered based
on a finding that certain services had not been provided or
The Commissioner has reviewed all of the evidence in the record and
has carefully considered that portion relevant to the issues raised
This proceeding was commenced in 1987 when the first five of six
separate complaints were filed by one individual tenant alleging a
decrease in building-wide services and requesting a rent reduction.
The sixth complaint was filed in 1988. The tenant alleged, inter
alia, dirty baseboard behind radiators, brass work not being
maintained and public areas not being kept in a clean and sanitary
In answer to the complaints, the owner asserted at the outset that
the complaints were all prepared by a tenant representative in
violation of a court-approved stipulation. With regard to specific
items, the owner asserted that it had been determined in prior
proceedings before the Division that the public areas were being
maintained in a clean condition.
Finally, the owner noted that the complaints involved in this pro-
ceeding were among 306 complaints consisting of 982 pages received
by the owner on the same day, and argued that this constitutes an
abuse of the system by one tenant representative.
A physical inspection of the premises was conducted by a DHCR
employee on November 23, 1988. The inspector reported the
following defective conditions:
1. public areas in need of cleaning
(sweeping and washing),
2. dirty baseboard behind radiators,
3. brass work needs cleaning.
Based on the inspection report, the Administrator directed restora-
tion of services and further ordered a reduction of the stabilized
rent of the complaining tenant, effective June 1, 1988.
In the petition for administrative review, the owner points out
that this proceeding involves six separate complaints signed on
various dates between May 1987 and April 1988 and again asserts
that this is one of 28 dockets involving 306 complaints received on
the same day.
The owner asserts that in another proceeding (Docket No. QCS
000151B) it was determined after a hearing that there was satis-
factory cleaning of the public areas.
The owner argues that since the order states that many items were
found to be restored the DHCR confirms that the owner is providing
required maintenance on such items as the mailboxes and hallway
windows, and the rent reduction should be rescinded.
The owner contends that the problems of dirt behind radiators and
mailboxes needing cleaning are possibly caused by tenant abuse, and
even if true, are too minor a condition to constitute a basis for
a finding of a failure by the owner to maintain services or for the
imposition of a rent reduction.
The owner again refers to a court-approved stipulation that he
asserts is being violated by the preparation of multiple complaints
for other tenants, by one tenant representative.
The tenant interposed a response to the owner's petition which
contended that the order was issued pursuant to an inspection of
the subject premises by a DHCR employee and that the owner does not
dispute the existence of the conditions found by the inspector.
After careful consideration of the evidence of record, the Commis-
sioner is of the opinion that the petition should be granted in
part and the Rent Administrator's order should be modified.
Section 2523.4 of the Rent Stabilization Code requires DHCR to
order a rent reduction upon application by a tenant where it is
found that the owner has failed to maintain required services.
Required services are defined by Section 2520.6(r) to include
repairs, maintenance, janitorial services and removal of refuse.
The Commissioner finds that based on the on site physical inspec-
tion which confirmed the tenant's complaint of dirty public areas,
the Administrator was mandated pursuant to Section 2523.4(a) to
reduce the rent upon determining that the owner had failed to
The rent reduction ordered by the Administrator is therefore war-
The owner's assertion that in a prior proceeding, it was determined
that the public areas were being maintained in a clean condition
does not establish that the finding in this proceeding that jani-
torial services are inadequate was in error. This is a service
that must be provided on an on-going basis and may deteriorate at
anytime which, if confirmed by an agency inspection, would warrant
a rent reduction, despite an earlier determination that the service
was being provided.
It is unfortunate that so many complaints were filed against the
petitioner at the same time but nothing in the Rent Stabilization
Law and Code precludes such multiple filings. Efforts are made by
the Division to consolidate related proceedings and to avoid
duplicative rent reductions for identical items.
The fact that many services were found to have been restored does
not establish that the rent reduction ordered herein is not
warranted. The Administrator's order found that screens on the
north side of the building were adequate, that the hallway windows
were adequate, and that the mailboxes were repaired. These are
separate and distinct items from those which formed the basis for
the rent reduction and are not relevant to the validity of the
finding that these other services were not being properly
Although it is not likely that dirt behind the radiators and brass
on the mailboxes needing cleaning are conditions "caused by tenant
abuse", the Commissioner is of the opinion that these items, even
if confirmed by inspection, do not warrant a rent reduction.
The Commissioner has previously held that tarnished brasswork on
mailboxes does not warrant a rent reduction unless "the mailboxes
become so grimy as to make their use difficult or their appearance
unsightly . . " (See BB130149RT). Since there was no such finding
in this case, the reference to "brass work needs cleaning" must be
deleted from the rent reduction order.
Similarly, the dirty baseboard behind the radiator is not a
condition that significantly affects the appearance of the public
areas or impairs the tenant's use of common space. It does not
indicate a failure to maintain services and must also be deleted as
a basis for the rent reduction ordered by the Administrator. In
order for this rent reduction to be restored, it must be estab-
lished solely that the public areas are properly swept and washed.
Finally the owner has asserted that a court stipulation involving
the tenant representative who filed these complaints prevents her
from doing so. The owner did not submit a copy of this stipula-
tion but it was submitted in conjunction with other proceedings and
a careful reading of its terms reveals that it does not state what
the owner purports that it states.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the Rent stabilization Law and Code,
ORDERED, that this petition be, and the same hereby is, granted in
part, and the Rent Administrator's order be, and the same hereby
is, affirmed, as modified.
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA