STATE OF NEW YORK
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                                  92-31 UNION HALL
                                  JAMAICA, NY 11433

          APPEALS OF                                   DOCKET NOS.:
                     Richard Albert                    DH110522RO

                                                       RENT ADMINISTRATOR'S
                                                       DOCKET NO.:



          On August 10, 1989, the above-named petitioner-owner filed five 
          separate petitions for administrative review of an order issued on 
          July 6, 1989, by the Rent Administrator, concerning the housing 
          accommodations known as Apts. 1Y and 3T at 93-49 222nd Street, and 
          Apts. 1D, 1F and 2B at 93-41 222nd Street, Queens Village, New York 
          wherein the the Administrator determined that the owner had failed 
          to maintain required or essential services.  The Administrator 
          ordered a rent reduction and directed the owner to restore 

          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 commenced when twenty separate complaints of 
          decrease in building-wide services were filed by various tenants of 
          the subject multi-unit complex.  

          The complaints were signed on different dates in 1987 and 1988 and 

          ADM. REVIEW DOCKET NO.DH130085RO et. al.

          describe different conditions requiring repair.  They were served 
          on the owner on May 27, 1988.

          In an answer dated June 15, 1988, the owner alleged, in substance, 
          that all required services are being maintained and that this 
          proceeding is one of 28 dockets consolidating 306 complaints 
          received on the same day.  

          A physical inspection on April 21, 1989 revealed a hole in the 
          center of the northwest courtyard covered with a cement slab, 
          stones, and bricks; an accumulation of 18 tree trunks in the north 
          driveway; falling brick and mortar on the interior of the parapet 
          walls of the buildings at 93-41 and 93-49 222nd Street; and poor 
          janitorial services in all buildings.

          Based on the inspection report, five separate rent reduction orders 
          were issued, each listing those conditions cited in the tenant's 
          complaint that were confirmed by inspection and ordering a rent 
          reduction consistent with the rent controlled or rent stabilized 
          status of the apartment.

          The owner filed five separate petitions for administrative review 
          alleging that there was a dry well for rain water in the middle of 
          a clump of trees in a courtyard where tenants are not permitted 
          which, in response to the tenants' complaints, the owner covered 
          with the seat from a marble bench and sealed it with cement and 
          stones.  This careful and proper repair, the owner argues, should 
          not warrant a rent reduction.

          The accumulation of tree trunks is a decorative feature, according 
          to the owner, consisting of log sections from a cut tree placed 
          side by side along the fence next to a driveway for aesthetic 
          purposes and to provide additional protection against motor 
          vehicles damaging the fence.

          As for the condition of the parapet walls, the owner asserts that 
          age and water conditions cause brick and mortar to flake which is 
          a normal consequence of weathering that is known as "spalling."  
          The owner states that there are no falling bricks and no rent 
          reduction is warranted for what is merely a cosmetic condition.

          With regard to the finding of inadequate janitorial services, the 
          owner cites a prior proceeding before the Division wherein it was 
          determined after a hearing that the maintenance staff meets 
          regulatory requirements.

          The petitions were served on the tenants on November 13, 1989.  
          Similar answers were filed by all tenants, urging that the 

          ADM. REVIEW DOCKET NO.DH130085RO et. al.

          petitions be denied because the rent reduction orders were based on 
          the inspector's findings which the owner does not dispute and the 
          owner has an ongoing responsibility to maintain the public parts of 
          the premises.

          After careful consideration of the entire evidence of record, the 
          Commissioner is of the opinion that the petitions should be denied.

          Section 2523.4 of the Rent Stabilization Code requires the Division 
          to order a rent reduction, upon application by a tenant based on a 
          finding that the owner has failed to maintain required services.  
          Required services are defined by Section 2520.6(r) to include 
          repairs, decorating and maintenance, janitorial services and 
          removal of refuse.

          Section 2202.16 of the Rent and Eviction Regulations authorizes a 
          reduction in an amount reflecting the reduced rental value of the 
          housing accommodations based on a finding that the owner is not 
          maintaining essential services.  Essential services are defined in 
          Section 2200.3 to include repairs, decorating and maintenance, 
          janitorial services and removal of refuse.

          In the instant case, the physical inspection by DHCR confirmed the 
          existence of defective conditions for which the rent reductions 
          ordered by the Administrator are warranted.  The owner's petitions 
          do not establish any basis for modifying or revoking the orders.

          The complaint regarding the hole in the courtyard was that the 
          owner had made a cosmetic and ineffective attempt to hide a hole 
          that the Office of Code Enforcement (OCE) had described as an 
          immediately hazardous condition and had placed a violation for it 
          in 1985.  The owner's certification that this condition had been 
          corrected was determined to be false upon reinspection by OCE.  The 
          tenants had submitted with the complaints a copy of the violation 
          report.  The owner was, therefore, on notice that it was the repair 
          to the hole that the tenants considered inadequate and this was 
          confirmed by the Division's inspector.

          The accumulation of tree trunks was also the subject of a violation 
          issued to the owner by the Department of Health because it created 
          a "potential rat harborage."  While matters of decorative features 
          or aesthetics are generally within an owner's discretion, an item 
          that constitutes a health hazard is rubbish which must be removed.  
          The owner's failure to take away the tree trunks after the 
          violation and the tenants' complaints with the Division warrants a 
          rent reduction.

          Similarly the spalling condition of the brickwork on the parapet 
          walls was the subject of a violation by the Office of Code 
          Enforcement which directed the owner on March 31, 1987 to repair 
          the cement stucco with similar material.  If this is an item of 

          ADM. REVIEW DOCKET NO.DH130085RO et. al.

          normal repair and maintenance caused by weather conditions as the 
          owner alleges, the owner had adequate opportunity from the time the 
          complaints were sent to the owner in May 1988 until the inspection 
          in April 1989 to repair this purportedly minor condition.  The 
          failure to address the problem constitutes a failure to maintain 

          Finally, the finding of inadequate janitorial services is not 
          barred by the determination in another earlier proceeding that the 
          premises have adequate maintenance staff.  Proper maintenance of 
          the public areas of a building or complex is an ongoing obligation 
          which may deteriorate any time and, if confirmed by inspection, 
          warrants a rent reduction despite any determination in prior 
          proceeding that such services were adequate.  

          THEREFORE, in accordance with the Rent Stabilization Law and Code, 
          and the Rent and Eviction Regulations for New York City, it is

          ORDERED, that these petitions be, and the same hereby are denied 
          and the Rent Administrator's orders be, and the same hereby are, 



                                             JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                             Deputy Commissioner  

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