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.:
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
On April 10, 1989, the above-named petitioner-owner filed a
petition for administrative review (PAR) of an order issued on
March 20, 1989, by the Rent Administrator, concerning the housing
accommodation known as 93-45 222nd Street, various apartments,
Queens Village, New York, wherein the Administrator directed
restoration of services and further ordered a reduction of the
maximum and stabilized legal rents, as appropriate.
The Commissioner has reviewed all 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 commenced by the filing of six complaints of
decrease in services filed by various tenants. An inspection
conducted by a Division employee confirmed the existence of some of
the complained of conditions resulting in the March 20, 1989 order.
In the PAR, the owner contends that the order is contrary to the
finding of the Division in Docket No. QCS000151B where, after
hearings, the Division determined that the subject premises are
satisfactorily cleaned and that no abatement should be granted in
connection with tarnished brass work. Similarly, the owner alleges
that as to the condition of the sagging sidewalk, a prior order
issued under Docket No. QCS000601B, determined that the owner is
maintaining the sidewalks. As for the condition of broken and bent
chains and stanchions, the owner contends, among other things, that
this condition was not mentioned in the complaint and, that falling
plaster is a matter of routine maintenance and had already been
repaired by the time the order was issued. The owner further notes
that the order contains some inaccuracies in either the address or
rent stabilized status of the tenants involved.
The Commissioner is of the opinion that the petition should be
granted in part and the Administrator's order should be modified.
Of the six complaints addressed in the order hereunder review, none
raises the condition of broken chains and stanchions. The part of
the order granting a rent reduction for this condition is hereby
rescinded retroactively to the order's effective date.
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
janitorial 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.
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.
Section 2202.16 of the Rent and Eviction Regulations authorizes a
decrease in rent based on a decrease in essential services.
Essential services are defined in Section 2200.3(b) and 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 rent reduction ordered by the Administrator was warranted based
on the finding that the owner had failed to maintain services.
Notwithstanding this, the Commissioner is of the opinion that dirt
behind the radiators and tarnished brass are items which, even if
confirmed by inspection, do not warrant a rent reduction.
The Commissioner has previously held that tarnished brass work on
mailboxes does not warrant a rent reduction unless "the mailboxes
become so grimy as to make their use difficult or their appearance
unsightly . . " Since there was no such finding in this case, the
reference to "brasswork 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 appear-
ance 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. Inasmuch as no specific rent reduction amount
was attributed to this condition, the rent reduction of $5.00
attributable to inadequate janitorial services will remain the
same. In order for this rent reduction to be restored, it must be
established solely that the public areas are properly swept and
washed (see Docket No. CL110168RO).
The owner's assertion that in a prior proceeding, it was determined
that the sidewalks are being maintained does not preclude the
finding in this proceeding of a sagging sidewalk. This, like other
services must be provided on an on-going basis and may deteriorate
at any time which, if confirmed by an agency inspection, would
warrant a rent reduction despite an earlier determination that the
service was being provided. In this case, the inspection conducted
on November 23, 1988 prior to the Administrator's order is more
probative of the conditions existing on the date of the order than
the inspection conducted two years earlier in connection with that
The Commissioner notes that although the owner alleges that the
falling plaster condition had been corrected prior to the issuance
of the order under review, he offered no evidence to substantiate
this allegation before the Administrator. Accordingly, in this
regard, the owner has offered insufficient reason to disturb the
The Commissioner notes that tenant Maloney's complaint dealt only
with sagging sidewalk flags in front of the subject building, and
the Administrator's order was issued to tenant Maloney at the
subject building address. The record, however, indicates that this
tenant does not reside in the subject building. It was, therefore,
error for the Administrator to have issued the order to tenant
Maloney and such order is hereby revoked as to that tenant. Any
arrears due the owner as a result of this order shall be paid in 12
equal monthly installments.
An attachment to the order lists two other tenants, Harroway and
Kowalski, as rent stabilized instead of rent controlled. The
Commissioner notes that this is an error in labelling and has no
effect on the correctness of the order itself, which ordered a rent
reduction of $12.00 per month pursuant to Section 2202.16 of the
Rent and Eviction Regulations.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the provisions of the Rent Stabiliza-
tion Law and the Rent and Eviction Regulations for New York City,
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 in accordance with this order.
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA