DC 230214 RO
                                  STATE OF NEW YORK
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                               JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433

          APPEAL OF                               DOCKET NO.: DC 230214 RO
                  JOHN H. WINFREY,                RENT ADMINISTRATOR'S
                                                  DOCKET NO.: CE 220085 B


               On March 20, 1989 the above named petitioner-owner filed a 
          Petition for Administrative Review against an order of the Rent 
          Administrator issued February 21, 1989. The order concerned housing 
          accommodations located at 385 East 18th Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.  The 
          Administrator ordered a building-wide rent reduction for failure to 
          maintain required services.  

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

               This proceeding was commenced on May 26, 1988 when 18 of the 
          71 tenants of the building filed a Statement of Complaint of 
          Decrease in Building-Wide Services wherein they alleged the 
          following services deficiencies:

                    1.   Public hallways not maintained,

                    2.   Dirty incinerator rooms; sinks removed; walls dirty 
                         and in need of painting,

                    3.   Loud noises emanating from heating or plumbing 

                    4.   Lobby carpeting damaged from fire,

                    5.   Superintendent unavailable during day,

                    6.   Sidewalks uneven, cracking and retaining water,

                    7.   Bricks and cement deposited in grass and bushes and 
                         not removed,

          DC 230214 RO

                    8.   Exterior house wood trims peeling or completely 
                         without paint,

                    9.   Problems with building security especially around 
                         laundry room,

                   10.   Backyard lighting burned out and not replaced,

                   11.   Unauthorized person living in porter's room,

                   12.   Roof door not properly secured allowing 
                         unauthorized persons access to roof.

               The owner was served with a copy of the complaint and afforded 
          an opportunity to respond. The owner filed a response on July 1, 
          1988 and stated the following:

                    1.   The public hallways are maintained but are in need 
                         of stripping which, the owner indicated, would be 

                    2.   The incinerator rooms are not dirty but the walls 
                         do need painting and the sinks have been removed,

                    3.   There is no evidence of loud noises emanating from 
                         either the plumbing or heating system,

                    4.   The lobby carpeting is water damaged and will be 

                    5.   The owner investigated the absences of the 

                    6.   The sidewalks are uneven, cracking and water 
                         damaged in some areas,

                    7.   The cement and brick debris would be removed,

                    8.   Exterior house trim is peeling and in need of 

                    9.   The entrance door has been locked and the basement 
                         is well lighted and secure,

                   10.   The backyard lighting is functioning,

                   11.   There are no unauthorized persons living in the 

                   12.   The roof area is secure.

          DC 230214 RO

               The owner stated that, since he was attending to the items 
          that required repair and since the items in question were so minor, 
          the complaint should be dismissed.
               The Administrator ordered a physical inspection of the subject 
          apartment.  The inspection was conducted on December 8, 1988 and 
          revealed the following:

                    1.   The roof door on the right side of the building is 
                         not secure,

                    2.   Five or six backyard bulbs were not functioning at 
                         the time of the inspection,

                    3.   The sinks in the incinerator rooms have all been 
                         removed from the incinerator rooms on the right 
                         side of the building (except for the first floor),

                    4.   The front sidewalk has cracks.

          The following services were found to have been maintained:

                    1.   Public area are clean,

                    2.   Incinerator rooms do not have peeling paint and 

                    3.   New lobby carpeting installed,

                    4.   No debris in surrounding bushes or grass,

                    5.   Building entrance and vestibule doors secure,

                    6.   No evidence of loud noises emanating from plumbing 
                         or heating,

                    7.   Exterior trimming not peeling paint and plaster.

               The Administrator issued the order here under review on 
          February 21, 1989 and ordered a rent reduction of $17.00 per month 
          for rent controlled tenants and an amount equal to the most recent 
          guideline adjustment for rent stabilized tenants 

               On appeal, the owner states that the rent reductions ordered 
          for the roof door lock, backyard light bulbs and sidewalk were not 
          warranted because these items were de minimis in nature.  The owner 
          argues that such services reductions are not so substantial as to 
          warrant a reduction in rent.  With regard to the sinks, the owner 
          states that they are irrelevant as a service provided to the 
          tenants and were installed for the benefit of the superintendent.  

          They were removed when the tenants began using them to dispose of 

          DC 230214 RO

          refuse.  The owner stated that he feared the development of vermin 
          infestation.  Finally, the owner stated that it was denied due 
          process when it was denied notice of the inspection and a copy of 
          the report of the inspector.  The owner also alleged that the 
          single inspection provided insufficient evidence that there was a 
          pattern of decreased services.  The tenants did not file responses.
               After careful review of the evidence in the record, the 
          Commissioner is of the opinion that the petition should be granted 
          in part and the order should be modified.

               With regard to the issue of the due process denial alleged by 
          the owner, the Commissioner notes that numerous prior orders have 
          held that the owner is put on adequate notice of the existence of 
          alleged service reductions by the serving of the complaint.  There 
          is no further notice required to be afforded nor is the owner 
          entitled to a copy of the inspection report.  The courts have 
          affirmed this policy (see Empress Manor Apartments v. DHCR 538 
          N.Y.S.2d 49 [2nd. Dept., 1989]).  The owner's claim that the report 
          of the inspector provides insufficient evidence to warrant the rent 
          reduction is also without merit.  The report of a DHCR inspector is 
          entitled to greater probative weight than the unsupported 
          allegations of a party to the proceeding.

               The Commissioner finds that the Administrator properly based 
          the determination on the entire record including the results of the 
          on-site physical inspection conducted on December 8, 1988 and that, 
          pursuant to 9 NYCRR 2523.4, the Administrator was mandated to 
          reduce the rent upon determining that the owner had failed to 
          maintain services.  Furthermore, pursuant to 9 NYCRR 2202.16 the 
          Administrator was empowered to order a decrease in the maximum rent 
          in an amount determined by the reasonable exercise of discretion.

               The Commissioner finds that there is no basis for disturbing 
          the findings regarding the roof door, and backyard light bulbs.  
          Neither of these conditions is so de minimis as to not warrant a 
          rent reduction.  An unlocked roof door and defective exterior 
          lights pose a potential security risk which is clearly not 
          insignificant in nature.  They are also conditions that could 
          easily have been remedied during the time between service of the 
          complaint on the owner in June 1988 and the physical inspection six 
          months later.  The failure to make the necessary repairs warrants 
          a rent reduction.

               As for the sidewalks, however, the tenants complained that the 
          sidewalks are uneven, cracking and retaining water in some areas.  
          The physical inspection, however, merely revealed that the sidewalk 
          is cracked in four spots but is not uneven.  A cracked sidewalk 
          does not indicate a failure to make necessary repairs without some 
          evidence that the sidewalk poses a tripping hazard or there is 
          significant deterioration of the cement or the sidewalk was 
          installed in an unworkmanlike manner.  Since the complaint of an 

          DC 230214 RO

          uneven sidewalk was not confirmed by the inspection, the cracks in 
          what is concededly a new sidewalk does not warrant a rent reduction 
          and the Administrator's order is modified to delete this item.  The 
          $2.00 per month rent reduction for this item is deleted.

               With regard to the issue of the incinerator sinks, the owner 
          stated before the Administrator that the sinks had been removed and 
          now states that the reason for this removal was that the sinks were 
          never intended for use by the tenants and that they were being 
          used as repositories for refuse.  The Commissioner notes that the 
          tenants have not disputed the owner's contention in the petition 
          that the sinks were never available for use by the tenants.  The 
          Commissioner has ruled that, in circumstances such as this, an 
          incinerator sink is not a required or essential service within the 
          meaning of the rent regulation statutes.  (Accord: CH 630118 RO)  
          Accordingly, a rent reduction is not warranted for the removal of 
          these sinks.  The order here under review is modified to delete the 
          finding regarding the incinerator sinks as well as the $5.00 per 
          month rent reduction ordered by the Administrator based on said 

               With regard to rent controlled tenants, if the current owner 
          has complied with the order here under review and arrears are due 
          and owing based on the Commissioner's modification of the order, 
          the tenants may pay off said arrears in twelve (12) equal monthly 
          installments.  If any tenant has vacated their apartment, said 
          arrears are due and payable immediately.

               The Commissioner notes that the owner has filed for rent 
          restoration and that application was granted on October 2, 1989 in 
          an order bearing Docket No. DC 220119 OR.

               THEREFORE, pursuant to the Rent Stabilization Law and Code and 
          Rent and Eviction Regulations it is 

               ORDERED, that this petition 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.


                                             JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                             Acting Deputy Commissioner


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