Docket Nos.: EC 430391-RO, DE 430356-RO
                                  STATE OF NEW YORK
                      DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                               JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433


          ----------------------------------X    S.J.R. NO. 5820
          IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE    ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
          APPEAL OF                              DOCKET NOS.: EC 430391-RO 
                                                              DE 430356-RO
             WYNDHAM REALTY CO., INC.,         
                                                 DRO  DOCKET  NOS.:   DF   430155-OR
                             PETITIONER                           BF 430115-B
          ----------------------------------X  
                                   
            
             ORDER AND OPINION DENYING OWNER'S PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE
             REVIEW OF RENT REDUCTION ORDER AND GRANTING OWNER'S PETITION 
               FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW OF DENIAL OF RENT RESTORATION 
                                 APPLICATION, IN PART     

          On September 21, 1987, the  above-named  petitioner-owner  filed  a
          Petition for Administrative Review against an order issued  by  the
          Rent Administrator on April 7, 1989 (BF  430415-B)  concerning  the
          housing accommodation known as 571 Third Ave., New York, New  York,
          wherein the Administrator reduced the tenants'  rents  based  on  a
          finding of a reduction of building-wide services.

          Subsequent thereto, the petitioner filed a petition in the  Supreme
          Court pursuant to Article 78 of the  Civil  Practice  Law  &  Rules
          requesting  that  the   "deemed   denial"   of   the   petitioner's
          administrative  appeals  be  annulled.   The  Court  remitted   the
          petition, by stipulation, to the Division for consideration of  the
          administrative appeals.

          Thereafter, on March 12, 1990, the petitioner filed a separate  PAR
          against  an  order  (DF-430155-OR)   which   denied   the   owner's
          application to restore rents, based on a finding that the owner had 
          failed to restore services, as alleged.

          The PARs have been consolidated for  disposition  as  they  involve
          related facts.

          The issue in  these  proceedings  is  whether  the  Administrator's
          determinations were correct.

          The applicable law is Section 2520.6(r)  and  2523.4  of  the  Rent
          Stabilization Code and Section  2202.16  of  the  Rent  &  Eviction
          Regulations.

          The tenants initially commenced the proceedings on June  25,  1987,
          by filing a complaint of decreases in building-wide services 






          Docket Nos.: EC 430391-RO, DE 430356-RO

          alleging that water pressure was low; that there was no on-premises 
          superintendent or one within 200 feet of  the  premises,  and  that
          janitorial services were  inadequate  and  frequently  unavailable;
          that the fire escape route were blocked by  trash;  that  the  main
          entrance door lock was broken; that  trash  was  not  removed  from
          hallways;  and  that  there  was  rodent  infestation  in   certain
          apartments.

          The owner denied that the water pressure  was  too  low,  asserting
          that a similar complaint under Docket  No.  G  410023-HW  had  been
          dismissed; confirmed that the superintendent did not  live  on  the
          premise but asserted that the superintendent reside in  a  building
          around the corner from the subject premises, within 200  feet,  and
          in compliance with applicable regulations, confirmed that trash was 
          stored in the back alley but denied  that  it  interfered  with  or
          blocked fire escapes or hallways; alleged that the public  hallways
          are inspected daily and swept and mopped as needed,  and  at  least
          three times a week.  As to tenants' complaint that  they  were  not
          provided access to  the  basement,  the  owner  asserted  that  the
          tenants  could  contact  the  superintendent,  management  or   the
          adjoining storekeeper  who  shares  the  common  area  and  was  in
          possession of the key to the basement.  The owner further  asserted
          that the building has monthly exterminating services but that  some
          tenants have repeatedly  refused  access  to  their  apartment  and
          indicating that duplicate proceedings  under  AJ-410281-S  and  BH-
          410112-K  had  revealed  that  there  was  no  evidence   of   mice
          infestation.  Supporting documentation was submitted  to  establish
          the monthly exterminating service provided.

          An inspection was conducted on March 1, 1989, by a  member  of  the
          Division's inspection staff.   The  inspector  reported  the  water
          pressure was inadequate and that cold water  trickled  out  of  the
          faucet in the one apartment the inspector was provided access.  The 
          inspector also confirmed  that  stairways  and  public  areas  were
          dirty, stained and unswept; that there was no superintendent in the 
          building nor any information posted to contact the  superintendent;
          and that the building entrance lock was missing.

          Concerning the basement, the inspector reported that  the  basement
          door was locked and while the storekeeper next door had the key, he 
          was only open for business during weekday business hours.   However
          the inspection revealed no  evidence  of  mice  infestation  or  of
          debris blocking fire escapes or public hallways.

          On April 7, 1989, the  Administrator  issued  orders  reducing  the
          rents for the rent controlled tenants by $10.00 based on inadequate 
          water pressure ($4.00), inadequate janitorial services ($3.00)  and
          a missing building entrance door lock ($3.00).  The rents  for  the
          rent stabilized tenants were reduced by the percentage of the  most
          recent guideline adjustment for each tenant's lease which commenced 
          before the effective date of the rent reduction, April 1, 1989.







          Docket Nos.: EC 430391-RO, DE 430356-RO

          On June 21, 1989, the owner filed an application  to  restore  rent
          asserting that services for which a rent reduction had been  issued
          on April 7, 1989 under Docket Number BK 430115-B had been restored. 
          The owner asserted that its own inspection found water pressure  to
          be adequate and in accordance with city law and  regulations;  that
          the building  is  inspected  on  a  daily  basis;  that  janitorial
          services are performed two (2) to three (3) times a week, including 
          the  removal  of  refuse  and  cleaning  of  public   areas;   that
          information was posted on the ground floor providing information to 
          contact the superintendent, and to obtain access to  the  basement;
          and that the entrance door  lock  had  been  repaired  on  numerous
          occasions but that vandals continued to break it.

          Tenants  responded,  to  the  effect  that   water   pressure   was
          periodically inadequate, that the  hallway  was  dirty,  and  that,
          while the superintendent lives around the corner, he is not  always
          available when needed.  One tenant conceded, however, that the door 
          lock had been repaired during the interim.

          An inspection was conducted on December 13,  1989.   The  inspector
          reported  that  janitorial  services  remained   inadequate;   that
          superintendent was not available nor contact information posted as 
          required pursuant to local law, that  the  building  entrance  door
          lock was missing, and that  the  basement  door  was  locked.   The
          inspector reported that while the storekeeper next door had a  key,
          it was only available weekdays during business hours,  but  not  on
          evenings or weekends.  However, the water pressure was found to  be
          adequate in the one apartment the inspector was granted access.

          On February 5, 1990 the Administrator  issued  orders  denying  the
          owner application to restore  rents  based  on  findings  that  the
          janitorial services remained inadequate, that  the  water  pressure
          was inadequate, and  that  the  building  entrance  door  lock  was
          missing.

          In both the administrative appeal of the rent reduction  order  (BF
          430115-B) and the denial of the owner's application to restore rent 
          (DF-430155-OR) the owner argues that its own inspection  found  the
          water pressure to be adequate, that the superintendent is available 
          24 hours per day seven (7) days a week; that  the  superintendent's
          phone number and information to  obtain  immediate  access  to  the
          basement are posted on the wall of the ground floor hallways;  that
          the condition of the broken or missing entrance door lock occurs on 
          a regular basis due to  vandalizing,  but  that  repairs  are  made
          promptly.

          The petitioner also argues that rent reductions were not  warranted
          as the conditions were de minimus; that as rent cuts pursuant to  a
          prior order dated August 21, 1986 were still in effect, the  tenant
          were not entitled to further rent reduction; and that  tenants  who
          did not sign the complaint were not entitled  to  rent  reductions.
          The petitioner further argues that the rent reduction order  failed
          to specify how the services were inadequate.







          Docket Nos.: EC 430391-RO, DE 430356-RO

          After careful consideration the Commissioner is of the opinion that 
          the owner's appeal of the rent reduction order should be denied and 
          that the owners appeal of the order denying the  owner  application
          to restore rent should be granted in part.

          The Commissioner findings in both proceedings below were  based  on
          inspection conducted by members of the Division's inspection  staff
          and not merely  on  the  parties  representations.   Those  reports
          prepared by rent agency employees, not parties to  the  proceeding,
          and not adversaries to the  owner,  were  properly  placed  in  the
          record for consideration by the Administrator,  and  were  properly
          afforded greater weight and  credibility  than,  for  example,  the
          owner's  allegations  that  water  pressure  was   adequate,   that
          janitorial services were adequate, or that the owner did  not  have
          the opportunity to correct the  broken  front  entrance  door  lock
          since the latest break-in.

          The  Commissioner  rejects  as  being  without  merit  the  owner's
          characterization of the conditions reported by the inspectors as de 
          minimus items which did not warrant a finding of a reduction of 
          services.  On the contrary, a  defective  front  door  lock,  dirty
          public  hallways,  inadequate  water   pressure,   and   inadequate
          janitorial services constitute serious security, safety and  health
          hazards requiring immediate corrective action.  Moreover the Courts 
          have held that once the Division determines that a diminution of 
          services has occurred, the Division must order rent reductions.
          Hyde Park Gardens vs DHCR, 140 AD2d 351, 527 NYS 2d 841  (A.D.  2nd
          Dept), affd., 73 NY 2d 998, 541 NYS 2d 345 (Ct. App. 1989).

          Similarly, the Commissioner rejects the petitioners  argument  that
          the Administrator's findings lacked specificity so as to constitute 
          a lack of due process.  The owner was  clearly  on  notice  of  the
          alleged conditions when owner was forwarded a copy of the  tenant's
          complaint.  Moreover, the complete  record  was  available  to  the
          parties pursuant to a request under the Freedom of Information  Law
          (FOIL).

          Despite the owner's assurance below and at PAR that conditions  and
          repairs are attended to  immediately  upon  notification  from  the
          tenants that a problem exists, the record shows that  the  problems
          complained of persisted more than  two  years  after  the  tenants-
          filed the complaint.

          While certain of the conditions found may have  been  periodic  and
          chronic in nature, the owner's failure to  make  permanent  repairs
          sufficient to  insure  uninterrupted  service  warranted  the  rent
          reductions granted.

          The finding of inadequate building-wide water pressure was based on 
          the inspection of the  one  apartment.   In  the  rent  restoration
          proceeding the inspector's report, revealed the water  pressure  to
          be adequate in that apartment.  Applying parallel reasoning, the 






          Docket Nos.: EC 430391-RO, DE 430356-RO

          Administrator's denial  of  the  rent  restoration  application  is
          amended to delete inadequate water pressure  as  a  basis  for  the
          denial.  A partial rent restoration  ($4.00)  is  granted  to  rent
          controlled tenants for this condition, effective March 1, 1990.

          In other respects, the Administrator's orders are  affirmed.   Rent
          control provisions permit all rent controlled  tenants  to  benefit
          from building-wide reductions even if the tenants did not sign  the
          complaint.  Rent  stabilization  provisions  provide  that  tenants
          apply for rent reductions.

          The parties are also advised that for  rent  controlled  apartments
          where there is an order reducing the rent  in  effect  for  several
          services the Administrator  may  grant  partial  rent  restorations
          until all services are restored.  Additionally, no  more  than  one
          rent  reduction  may  be  authorized  for  an  identical  condition
          previously enumerated in a separate  order.   For  rent  stabilized
          tenants, where an order is  already  in  effect  for  any  type  of
          service decrease, no further rent  reduction  is  authorized  by  a
          order.  Nor may the owner demand or collect any rent increase until 
          the Administrator's order is issued restoring the rent.

          THEREFORE, in accordance with the Rent Stabilization Law and  Code,
          the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974, and Chapter 403 of the 
          Laws of 1983, as amended by Chapter 102 of the Laws of 1984, it is

          ORDERED, that the owners petition  be  granted  to  the  extent  of
          modifying the Administrators denial of the owner's rent restoration 
          application to reflect that water pressure  was  adequate,  and  to
          grant a partial rent restoration as to rent controlled tenants  for
          this  condition  prospectively.   Any  arrears  owed  by  the  rent
          controlled tenants as a result of this finding shall be paid by the 
          tenants to the owner in equal monthly installment over  the  course
          of  the  next  three  (3)  months.   In  all  other  respects   the
          Administrator's denial of the rent restoration application, and the 
          underlying rent reduction order are affirmed.

          ISSUED:




                                                                        
                                          ELLIOT SANDER
                                          Deputy Commissioner


    

TenantNet Home | TenantNet Forum | New York Tenant Information
DHCR Information | DHCR Decisions | Housing Court Decisions | New York Rent Laws
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

Subscribe to our Mailing List!
Your Email      Full Name