DJ 130141 RO
                                  STATE OF NEW YORK
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                               JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433

          APPEAL OF                               DOCKET NO.: DJ 130141 RO
               PLAZA REALTY INVESTORS             RENT
                                                  ADMINISTRATOR'S DOCKET 
                                                  NO.: DD 130058 B

               On October 19, 1989 the above named petitioner-owner filed a 
          Petition for Administrative Review against an order of the Rent 
          Administrator issued September 14, 1989.  The order concerned 
          various housing accommodations located at 132-40 Sanford Avenue, 
          Flushing, 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 April 18, 1988 when 47 of the 
          94 tenants of the building filed a Statement of Complaint of 
          Decrease in Building-Wide Services wherein they alleged the 
          following services deficiencies:

                    1.   Lobby--All decorations (benches, curtains, statues, 
                         and flowers) removed.  Mirrors broken. Poor quality 
                         paint job,

                    2.   Public areas in need of cleaning,

                    3.   Systemic lack of heat/hot water.  Boiler not 
                         working properly,

                    4.   Elevators inoperative,

                    5.   Intercoms defective,

                    6.   Roof doors and alarm system broken,

                    7.   Smoke on higher floors due to clogged air shaft,

          DJ 130141 RO

                    8.   Lack of exterminator service; rodent infestation,

                    9.   No lights in back of building,

                   10.   Front door lock broken.

          The tenants annexed documentation to the complaint which showed 
          their attempts to get repairs done. 

               The owner was served with a copy of the complaint and afforded 
          an opportunity to respond. The owner failed to respond to the 
               The Administrator ordered a physical inspection of the subject 
          building.  The inspection was conducted on June 22, 1989 and 
          revealed the following:

                    1.   Inadequate lighting in rear of building,

                    2.   Vermin infestation in public areas,

                    3.   Vestibule door lock broken,

                    4.   Intercom system inoperative,

                    5.   Peeling paint and plaster in halls due to leaks; 
                         public walls stained and contain graffiti,

                    6.   Lobby benches removed,

                    7.   Lobby curtains/drapes removed,

                    8.   Incinerator rooms full of garbage and debris and 
                         emit foul odors.

          The following services were found to have been maintained:

                    1.   No evidence of clogged air shafts,

                    2.   No evidence of smoke build-up from incinerators,

                    3.   Roof door alarms operative and doors are secure,

                    4.   Elevators operative,

                    5.   No evidence of broken mirrors.

               The Administrator issued the order here under review on 
          September 14, 1989 and ordered a rent reduction of an amount equal 
          to the most recent guideline adjustment for all rent stabilized 
          tenants.  The rent reduction was effective June 1, 1989.

          DJ 130141 RO

               On appeal the owner, through counsel, states that it should be 
          excused from its procedural default in failing to answer the 
          complaint by reason of the incompetence of the building agent who, 
          it is claimed, disregarded the complaint.  The owner states that 
          the agent has been dismissed from her position and that to prohibit 
          it from responding to the complaint at this stage would be 
          inequitable and a violation of its rights to due process.  The 
          owner also made the following additional arguments in seeking 
          reversal or modification of the order here under review:

                    1.   It was denied due process in not being given notice 
                         of the inspection and being served with a copy of 
                         the inspector's report,

                    2.   There was no factual basis for assuming that a 
                         lobby sitting area was required as a matter of law,

                    3.   It should not be held liable for recurring acts of 

                    4.   The order here under review misstates certain of 
                         the inspector's findings,

                    5.   Refuse accumulation and vermin are attributable to 
                         acts of the tenants, 

                    6.   The finding regarding the rear lighting is vague 
                         and inconclusive,

                    7.   The finding concerning peeling paint and plaster 
                         was inconclusive and/or reported a condition not 
                         alleged in the complaint.

               Various tenants filed responses wherein they stated, in sum, 
          that the order here under review should be affirmed.

               After careful review of the evidence in the record, the 
          Commissioner is of the opinion that the petition should be denied.

               It is an established principle that the scope of review in an 
          administrative appeal is limited to a review of the facts or 
          evidence that were before the Rent Administrator unless it is shown 
          that such facts or evidence could not have been offered or included 
          in the proceeding prior to issuance of the order being appealed. 
          Should the owner fail to respond below, it is barred from 
          presenting it's defenses on appeal.  Therefore, for the 
          Commissioner to consider the owner's defenses on the merits, the 
          procedural default herein must be excused.  The owner argues that 
          the incompetence of its now-dismissed agent should serve to excuse 
          it.  The Commissioner finds this defense to be inadequate.  
          Pursuant to 9 NYCRR 2520.6 (i) an "owner" is defined to include 
          duly designated agents.  Under general principles of agency law, 

          DJ 130141 RO

          information possessed by the agent is imputed to its principal.  
          Therefore, the owner may not avoid responsibility for a default by 
          claiming incompetence on the part of an agent (Accord: AJ 110529 
          RO).  Since the default herein is inexcusable, the Commissioner 
          will not consider the other arguments set forth by the owner.  The 
          order here under review is affirmed.

               It is noted that the owner's rent restoration application was 
          granted on July 16, 1990 (Docket No. ED 130011 OR).

               THEREFORE, pursuant to the Rent Stabilization Law and Code it 

               ORDERED, that this petition be, and the same hereby is, 
          denied, and that the Rent Administrator's order be, and the same 
          hereby is, affirmed.


                                             JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                             Acting Deputy Commissioner

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