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.:
ARTHUR D. ZINBERG,
PETITIONER CG 430029-B
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
On May 22, 1989, the above-named petitioner owner filed a Petition
for Administrative Review (PAR) appealing an order issued on April
20, 1989, by the Rent Administrator at Gertz Plaza, Jamaica,
New York, concerning the housing accommodations identified as 504
East 5th Street, New York, New York, wherein the Administrator
determined the tenants' complaint of an inoperative bell/buzzer
system or intercom system.
The challenged order reduced the rents for rent controlled tenants
by $3.00 per month based on the results of an inspection conducted
on January 30, 1989, that confirmed the tenants' complaint of an
inoperative bell/buzzer system. The inspector reported that there
was no evidence of an intercom system. The rents for rent sta-
bilized tenants were not reduced as the tenants had not requested
a rent reduction. The owner was further directed to restore
service to the required level.
In a complaint joined by 19 of the 32 tenants, it was alleged that
the bell/buzzer system was broken, that the intercom did not work,
and that it was not possible to "buzz" someone in.
The owner, responded that the Initial 1984 Services Registration
did not list either system as a required service provided by the
owner, that there had not been any system for at least forty (40)
years, and that all tenants who moved into the building commencing
in 1977 signed a statement acknowledging that there was no system
to "buzz" someone in. The owner further advised that the building
has additional mailing addresses known as 66 Avenue A, and 187 East
With the answer the owner provided signed statements from nine (9)
rent stabilized tenants retracting their signatures from the complaint.
On appeal, the owner reiterates the assertions below, and submits
a statement, dated November 1977, signed by seventeen (17) tenants,
requesting the owner to "keep all entrance doors locked and [to]
disconnect the electric door opener so that no person can unlock
the entrance doors by buzzing the bell from his apartment".
The owner also asserts that each wing of the building has its own
entrance and that apartments in other wings are not serviced by the
inoperative bell/buzzer system at 504 East 5th Street. The owner
also states that there is no internal access between and among the
wings, and argues that the rent reduction should apply only to the
four rent controlled tenants who reside at 504 East 5th Street and
who are affected by the inoperative bell/buzzer.
After careful consideration, the Administrator is of the opinion
that the petition should be granted in part.
Section 2520.6(r) of the Rent Stabilization Code defines required
services as those services furnished or required to be furnished to
the continuous stabilized tenant on May 31, 1968 and all additional
services provided or required to be provided thereafter. The base
date for essential services required under Section 2201.2 of the
Rent and Eviction Regulations is April 20, 1962.
The tenants' November 1977 statement submitted by the owner,
requesting the owner to disconnect the electric door opener so that
no person can unlock the entrance door by buzzing the bell from his
apartment, contradicts the assertion of the owner's representative
that there has been no capability to "buzz" someone in for forty
years. In fact, it suggests an admission by the owner that the
bell/buzzer system was eliminated after the base dates. The
owner's argument that the order violated due process because it did
not specify why or when the bell system was inoperative is without
merit, particularly in light of the owner's statement that the
equipment may have been deliberately disconnected.
In light of the evidence, a rent reduction for rent controlled
tenants is warranted.
The owner is in error in asserting that the April 1, 1984 Initial
Service Registration is a new base date for determining required
services because the tenants failed to object to the owner's
registration, which did not list the bell/buzzer systems, and
because new tenants since 1977 acknowledged, in writing, that no
person can unlock the entrance door by buzzing a bell from the
apartment. A tenant's failure to file objections to an owner's
registration statement does not act as a bar to a subsequent
complaint of decreased services. Tenants can complain about
reductions in base date services at any time.
Moreover, the registration system is inapplicable to rent
controlled tenants who are entitled to a rent reduction, pursuant
to Section 2202.16 of the Rent and Eviction Regulations when there
has been a decrease in the dwelling space, essential services,
furniture, furnishings or equipment required to be provided.
The Commissioner, however, agrees that only the tenants who reside
in the portion of the building served by the entrance identified as
504 East 5th Street should get a rent reduction. The tenants
identified the address of the building as 504 East 5th Street in
their complaint and indicated that the building has 32 apartments
when the Division's records show that the building has 76 apart-
ments. A review of the answers to the petition filed by the
tenants confirms that the building has three separate entrances,
each with a separate intercom and/or bell/buzzer system, and that
the complaint and physical inspection concerned only the conditions
at the 504 East 5th Street entrance. The rent reduction is,
therefore, revoked for all tenants except Mollie Gutman (Apt. 4-B),
Noah Gordon (Apt. 4-D), Joseph Feldman (Apt. 5-D), and Charlotte
Jones (Apt. 6-A).
The Commissioner notes that a statement signed by some tenants
requesting elimination of the bell and buzzer service would not
give the owner authority to discontinue providing a required or
essential base date service. The owner is referred to Section
2202.21 of the Rent and Eviction Regulations and Section 2522.4 of
the Rent Stabilization Code for the proper procedures for de-
creasing a service.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the provisions of the Rent Stabiliza-
tion Law and Code, and of the City Rent Control Law, and the Rent
and Eviction Regulations for New York City, it is,
ORDERED, that the owner's petition be, and the same hereby is,
granted in part, and that the Administrator's order be, and the
same hereby is, modified in accordance with this Order and Opinion.
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
Acting Deputy Commissioner