DA-810140-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



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          IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE     ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
          APPEAL OF                               DOCKET NO.:             
                                                  DA-810140-RT
                 GRACE & JOHN LAMORTE,  
                                                  RENT      ADMINISTRATOR'S
                                                  DOCKET NO.: 
                                  PETITIONERS     CF-810114-S 
          ----------------------------------x


            ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW  


          On January 8, 1989, the above-named  petitioner-tenants  filed  a
          Petition for Administrative Review against  an  order  issued  on
          January 3, 1989, by the District Rent  Administrator,  55  Church
          Street, White Plains, New York, concerning housing accommoda-
          tions known as Apartment 4-H, 485 White Plains Road, Eastchester, 
          New York, wherein the District Rent Administrator  dismissed  the
          tenants' complaint of reduced services due to the owner's refusal 
          to repair or replace the air conditioning unit.

          The issue in this appeal is whether t e  District  Rent  Adminis-
          trator's order was warranted.

          The applicable Section of the Law is Section 2502.3 of the Tenant 
          Protection Regulations.

          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  by  the  filing  of  an
          Individual Tenant Statement of Complaint  on  May  23,  1988,  in
          which the tenants  complained  in  substance  that  the  landlord
          refuses to repair  or  replace  the  air-conditioner,  which  has
          ceased to function after 16 years of  continuous  use.   The  air
          conditioner had been in  the  apartment  when  the  tenants  took
          occupancy on May 1, 1973.  The tenants requested that the owner 

          either restore the air conditioner or that the  rent  be  reduced
          accordingly.

          The tenants further pointed out that Paragraph 34  in  the  lease
          dated June 28, 1977 was  incorrect  in  that  it  said  that  the
          landlord was not responsible to the tenants for  any  failure  or
          breakdown of the equipment and  that  there  should  be  no  rent
          reduction should this occur.  The  tenants  disputed  the  clause
          because the air conditioner was "included in  the  rent"  on  the
          date of occupancy, and the tenants should not be expected to bear 







          DA-810140-RT
          the expense for the breakdown of  the  owner's  equipment  which,
          after 16 years, was simply the result of wearing out from  normal
          use over a long period of time.

          In its petition, dated January 8, 1989, the tenants  restate  the
          arguments made in the complaint and contend that  the  "ambiguous
          wording" in Paragraph 34 of the lease should not excuse the owner 
          from replacing the air conditioner that was in the apartment when 
          the tenants first moved in, and which only stopped working  as  a
          result of 16 years of normal use.

          The Commissioner is of the opinion that this petition  should  be
          granted.

          Section 2502.3  of  the  Tenant  Protection  Regulations  defines
          essential services as those services which the landlord was main 
          taining, or which he was obligated to maintain on May 29, 1974.

          A review of the record establishes that,  although  the  earliest
          lease available, dated June 28, 1977, contained a clause,  number
          34, which stated that the  owner  was  not  responsible  for  the
          maintenance, repair or replacement of the air-conditioning  unit,
          such clause cannot shield the owner from  the  responsibility  of
          providing a service that was provided to the tenants on the  base
          date.   The owner does not  dispute  that  the  use  of  the  air
          conditioner was provided on the base date, and that it has ceased 
          to function after 16 years of continuous normal use.  It must  be
          acknowledged that the entire useful life of the item has  expired
          after  this  length  of  time,  and  that  it  must  be  replaced
          altogether if the tenants are to get the benefits  promised  them
          under the Tenant Protection Regulations. Based upon  the  special
          facts in this case, including the  Administrator's  dismissal  of
          the complaint; the owner's reasonable reliance on that dismissal; 
          and that the diminution of service was based  upon  an  issue  of
          law the Commissioner finds that the rent is to be reduced to  the
          level in effect prior to  the  most  recent  guidelines  increase
          effective as of September 1, 1991, the first payment day  of  the
          month following the service of this order on the owner.  


          This Order and Opinion is issued without prejudice to the owner's 
          right to file an application with the Division for a  restoration
          of rent based upon a restoration of services,  if  the  facts  so
          warrant.



          THEREFORE, in accordance with the  Emergency  Tenants  Protection
          Act of 1974 and the Tenant Protection Regulations, it is



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


          ISSUED:







          DA-810140-RT


                                                                           
                                                ELLIOT SANDER
                                                Deputy Commissioner


                                          
    

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