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 NOS.:
BECHTOLDT CORP., RENT ADMINISTRATOR'S
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
IN PART AND MODIFYING ADMINISTRATOR'S ORDER
On April 25, 1990, the above-named petitioner-owner filed a
Petition for Administrative Review against an order of the Rent
Administrator issued March 21, 1990. The order concerned housing
accommodations located at 100 Jerusalem Avenue, Hempstead, New
York. The Administrator ordered a building-wide rent reduction
for failure to maintain services.
The Commissioner has reviewed the record and carefully considered
that portion relevant to the issues raised by this administrative
This proceeding was commenced on December 18, 1989 when 84
tenants joined in the filing of a complaint alleging decreased
building-wide services to wit:
1. West elevator inoperative for 10 months,
2. the intercom is not efficient,
3. broken door lock,
4. heat and hot water problems and
5. failure of the superintendent and manager to
leave an emergency number.
Petitioner answered the complaint and alleged as follows:
1. A working elevator was available to all
tenants and no documentation was submitted to
prove that the west elevator was inoperative.
2. The complaint did not specify which door lock
was broken. The doors allowing access to the
building were properly maintained.
3. The intercom was fully functional and the com-
plaint was not specific about what was not
4. The building has adequate heat and hot water and
there were no specific dates that heat/hot water
were not provided.
5. The live-in superintendent's number was posted in
the lobby but the installation of a telephone was
6. There is no obligation to post the telephone
number of a manager.
The tenants replied, stating that the tenants are entitled to two
working elevators, the locks on the doors are not sufficient, the
intercom telephone works only on certain days, no phone number
was posted for the superintendent who can only be reached through
the manager, and the tenants were not notified that there was a
The Administrator ordered a physical inspection of the premises,
which was conducted on March 8, 1990. That inspection revealed
1. East and West elevators inoperative.
2. Intercom system not working.
3. The lock on the building door was found to be
adequate and heat and hot water services were
The Administrator duly issued the order appealed from, reducing
the rent for all tenants who joined in the complaint.
Subsequent to the issuance of the order the Administrator
reopened the proceeding on April 4, 1990, at the owner's request
due to the inspector's failure to check the intercoms for each
complaining tenant. New inspections were conducted on May 10 and
11, 1990 solely on the issue of the intercoms. After testing the
intercoms for 72 apartments, the inspector reported the
1. Buzzer system not working by dialing 9 on
tenants' phone. Buzzer system not working
by any system.
2. Various intercoms that do ring, ring in the apart-
ments of other tenants.
3. Some intercoms ring from the intercom panel but
are not ringing in tenant's apartment.
4. Vestibule door lock, which is part of the intercom
On May 29, 1990, the Administrator issued an amended Order
incorporating this report, superseding the prior order, and
leaving unchanged the remainder of that order. The owner did not
file a petition for administrative review of that amended order.
On appeal the owner claims that the inspector only checked one
apartment intercom, as evidenced by the reopening of the pro-
ceeding. Thus, it is argued that an insufficient basis existed
to issue a building-wide reduction. Petitioner also claims that
the tenants did not complain about the east elevator, so the fact
that it malfunctioned was not a proper basis for issuing a
reduction order. Petitioner stated that they were in the process
of repairing the west elevator and that the tenants did have one
working elevator (the east one) for all but two days. The owner
also argues that the Tenant Protection Regulations do not require
a rent reduction for decreased services, only empower the
Administrator to grant one in the exercise of discretion.
Petitioner claims that, with one elevator inoperative, it was an
abuse of discretion to order the reduction. Finally, the owner
takes issue with the effective date of the reduction. The
Administrator ordered the reduction effective January 1, 1990.
The owner argues for an April 1, 1990 date, the first day of the
month succeeding the original inspection.
The Commissioner has carefully considered the evidence in the
record and is of the opinion that this petition should be granted
Addressing the owner's arguments seriatim, the Administrator
ordered the proceeding reopened to address the ve y claim peti-
tioner raises regarding the intercom inspection. An extensive
reinspection was conducted.
The Commissioner notes that the petitioner neither sought to
amend its petition to take into consideration the amendment nor
file a new petition to urge reversal of the amended order. The
detailed report submitted by the inspector formed a proper basis
for the building wide rent reduction for a defective intercom as
specified in the amended order.
The petitioner is correct in stating that the east elevator was
not mentioned in the original complaint. It was incumbent on the
tenants to specify that both elevators were malfunctioning. The
Commissioner rejects, however, the petitioner's arguments
regarding the west elevator. The fact that one elevator was
working did not relieve the petitioner of the responsibility for
maintaining all base date services, including two functioning
elevators for a building containing 96 apartments. Petitioner has
admitted that the west elevator was not functioning. The
Administrator was correct in ordering a rent reduction based on
the inoperative west elevator.
Section 2503.4 of the Tenant Protection Regulations states that
the Division may reduce the rent where it is found that the owner
has failed to maintain required services.
The inspector's report amply demonstrated a basis for the
reduction. The Administrator clearly did not abuse discretion
in issuing the order.
Finally, petitioner asserts that the effective date of any rent
reduction can only be subsequent to the date of the physical
inspection establishing the existence of the defective condition.
A review of the record reveals that the Administrator properly
ordered the rent reduction to be effective January 1, 1990 which
in accordance with established DHCR poli y was the month fol-
lowing the service of the tenants' complaint on the owner. Once
the owner was served with the complaint, it was on notice of the
conditions alleged by the tenants to require repair and could
take appropriate action to investigate and correct any defects.
In fact, since the owner has conceded throughout this proceeding
that the west elevator has been inoperative for some time, the
inspector's confirmation of this fact was not first established
by the inspection.
In summation, the Administrator's order is affirmed except that
part which found the east elevator as a basis for rent reduction.
The petitioner need not show that the east elevator is
operational in order to seek rent restoration. Any problems
regarding the east elevator must be the subject of a new tenant
THEREFORE, in accordance with the Emergency Tenant Protection Act
and Tenant Protection Regulation, it is
ORDERED, that this petition be, and the same hereby is, granted
in part and that the Rent Administrator's order be, and the same
hereby is, modified to delete the reference to an inoperative
east elevator as a basis for the rent reduction, but in all other
respects the order, as amended, is affirmed.