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.: CL110165RO
DOCKET NO.: BL110743S
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
On December 16, 1988, the above-named petitioner-owner filed a
petition for administrative review (PAR) of an order issued on
November 21, 1988, by the Rent Administrator, concerning the
housing accommodation known as 94-43 222nd Street, Apt.#1G, Queens
Village, N.Y., wherein the Administrator determined that the owner
was not providing required services, directed restoration of such
services and ordered a rent reduction.
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 by the administrative appeal.
A review of the record reveals that the tenant filed ten separate
complaints seeking a rent reduction based on the owner's failure to
maintain the following services:
1. Damage due to water seepage in living room
2. Defective and missing window screens
3. Leaking kitchen faucet
4. Infestation of cockroaches
5. Exterior window sashes require painting
6. Defective toilet flushometer
7. Large cracks in living room wall.
The complaints were sent to the owner on May 26, 1988.
The owner responded that these complaints are among 306 complaints
received by the owner in one day, prepared by another tenant in
violation of a court stipulation. The owner also alleged that all
required services are being maintained, that no rent reduction is
warranted, and that the issue of exterminating services was the
subject of hearings conducted in another DHCR proceeding
(QCS000151B) wherein it was determined such services are being
provided on a monthly basis.
A physical inspection of the subject apartment on September 29,
1988 revealed leaking hot and cold kitchen faucets, peeling paint
and plaster on the living room wall and ceiling, missing screens in
the living room and bedroom and defective screens in the kitchen
and bathroom, a broken pane and other defects in the living room
windows, and no evidence of vermin infestation.
Based on this inspection report, the rent reduction order appealed
herein was issued.
In the petition for administrative review, the owner asserts, in
relevant part, that the order reduces the rent for two items that
were not part of the original complaints (broken pane in left
living room window and living room right window has a defective
latch and is difficult to open and close), that the owner has had
continuing problems of access for repairs with this tenant, that
all painting and plumbing repairs were completed before the order
was issued and are minor items anyway, that screens are not a
service provided by the owner, that it was a violation of federal
law to order a rent reduction without a hearing, that these
complaints were prepared by another tenant in violation of a court
order, and that the signing of multiple complaints by tenants
In answer to the complaint, the tenant opposes the petition,
claiming that the rent reduction was based on an on-site
inspection, that access has not been denied, and that the owner has
not complied with an earlier order that directed the restoration of
screens but did not order a rent reduction (Docket No. AG110037S).
After careful consideration of the evidence of record, the
Commissioner is of the opinion that the petition should be granted
Pursuant to Section 2523.4 of the Rent Stabilization Code, DHCR is
required to order a rent reduction, upon application by a tenant,
where it is found that an owner has failed to maintain required
services. In the instant case, a review of the complaints and the
inspection confirm that there was an adequate basis to order a rent
reduction based on the owner's failure to repair the kitchen
faucets and the living room wall and ceiling. However, the
tenant's complaint referred to the need for the exterior window
sashes to be painted. The inspector's report and the rent
reduction order citing that report stated that one living room
window had a broken pane and the other had a defective latch and
was difficult to open. These are not conditions described in the
complaint and the failure to notify the owner of the need to repair
these items warrants revocation of that portion of the Rent
The issue of whether screens are a base date service is the subject
of another proceeding which continues to be litigated (SJR 5387).
Since the owner's obligation to provide screens for this apartment
has not yet been determined, a rent reduction for missing screens
is not warranted and that portion of the Rent Administrator's order
must also be deleted.
The owner's other arguments are without merit. The owner did not
establish access problems when the proceeding was before the
Administrator, there is no evidence that repairs were completed
before the order was issued, federal law does not require a hearing
before a rent reduction may be ordered, there is no proof that the
complaints were prepared by a tenant representative in violation of
a court order, and the Rent Stabilization Law does not recognize
harassment of owners by tenants.
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
modified to delete the finding that the owner has failed to repair
the living room windows or provide screens.
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA