STATE OF NEW YORK
DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL
OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
92-31 UNION HALL STREET
JAMAICA, NY 11433
IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
APPEAL OF DOCKET NO.: DE430234RO
DOCKET NO.: CG430025B
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW,
AND REVOKING RENT ADMINISTRATOR'S ORDER
The above-named owner filed a timely petition for administrative
review of an order issued on April 24, 1989, concerning the housing
accommodations known as 412 East 55th Street, New York, New York,
wherein the Rent Administrator determined the tenants' complaint of
decreased building-wide services.
The Commissioner has reviewed all the evidence in the record and
has carefully considered that portion of the record relevant to the
issues raised by the petition.
Various tenants commenced this proceeding by filing a complaint
asserting that the owner had failed to maintain certain services in
the subject premises.
In an answer, the owner denied the allegations set forth in the
complaint or otherwise asserted that all required repairs had been
or will be completed.
Thereafter, the DHCR conducted inspections of the subject premises.
The DHCR found that the number/letter designations on apartment
doors had been replaced with letter only designations, that a new
garage entrance door did not have a pedestrian passageway insert
door, and that the elevator indicator light on the eleventh floor
was not working. The Rent Administrator directed the owner to
restore these items and granted a building-wide rent reduction.
The Rent Administrator also determined that janitorial, vermin
extermination, hallway painting and carpeting, heat, and other
services were maintained, repaired or restored.
In this petition for administrative review, the owner argues that
the conditions did not support a rent reduction, and characterizes
the conditions as de minimis as they were merely inconveniences
rather than decreased services. The owner also argues that
complaints regarding floor numbers, elevator indicators and
building security were litigated in City Housing Court proceedings
with respect to one tenant and were dismissed albeit the tenant
received a rent abatement on other grounds. The owner urges that
these findings be given res judicata effect and that all tenants be
collaterally estopped from pursuing their claims.
The Commissioner concurs that the conditions found were not
conditions constituting services decreases, and that, therefore,
the petition should be granted and the Rent Administrator's order
revoked, as more fully set forth below.
The tenants complained that elevator indicators on most floors did
not work. The inspector found that the elevator indicator on the
eleventh floor was not working. An inspection conducted two (2)
weeks thereafter found no elevator defects. There is no evidence
that indicator lights in the elevators displaying the respective
floor on which the elevator stopped were not operating. There is
also no evidence in the record of interruption, interference or
problems with elevator service to the floors, including the
eleventh, at the time of inspection.
While inoperative elevator indicators may be a basis for a rent
reduction, the evidence herein indicates, that the condition at the
time of inspection was isolated to one location, that the
allegation of numerous elevator defects was not confirmed, and that
no elevator defects were found shortly thereafter. The condition
reported was isolated, which appears to have been corrected in the
course of normal maintenance, rather than being a decrease in
elevator service sufficient to warrant a rent reduction.
Similarly, no service was diminished by the fact that
numerical/letter markings on the tenants' doors were replaced by
letter identification only. Incidentally, the City Housing
Maintenance Code (Section 27-2048) requires only that the owner
provide a sign on each floor stating the number of the floor.
There is no evidence in the record that the owner was in violation
of the City Code. Also, there was no evidence presented that
confusion or problems ensued therefrom to residents, guests and
With regard to the installation of a new garage entrance door
without a pedestrian passageway insert door previously provided,
the Commissioner is of the opinion that there was no reduction of
garage services to tenants who availed themselves of the
facilities, or that the tenants were deprived of pedestrian access
between the garage and the building or the garage and the street.
Nor does the record establish that building security was
In the petition, the owner also requests that the tenants be
collaterally estopped from seeking relief based on the City Housing
Court's findings that dismissed the complaints of one tenant
regarding the conditions. The Commissioner notes that different
standards apply to ascertain whether the tenants are entitled to a
rent reduction under the Rent Stabilization Law and Code, and
whether a rent abatement is warranted based on issues normally
before the Court, such as whether there has been a violation of the
warranty of habitability, albeit the underlying facts may be
similar. Therefore, the Commissioner finds that collateral
estoppel is not appropriate.
In answer to the petition, various tenants assert that other
conditions alleged below, but not confirmed by the DHCR on
inspection, still exist or have recurred. An answer to the owner's
administrative appeal reiterating the allegations of the complaint
is not the proper vehicle to challenge the Rent Administrator's
finding that the services were, in fact, provided. Since the
tenants failed to file a proper administrative appeal, these
matters cannot be considered herein.
For the reasons set forth above, the rent reduction granted to the
tenants must be revoked. Any accrued rent arrears due the owner
from each tenant as a result of this order may be paid by the
tenant in equal monthly installments at the amount of the monthly
rent reduction previously granted, but revoked herein, until the
tenant's arrears are eliminated.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Rent
Stabilization Law and Code, it is
ORDERED, that this petition be, and the same hereby is, granted,
and that the Rent Administrator's order be, and the same hereby is,
revoked, in accordance with the above.
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA