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 NO.: EG130115RO
SAMSON MANAGEMENT RENT
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
IN PART AND MODIFYING RENT ADMINISTRATOR'S ORDER
On June 22, 1990 the above named petitioner-owner filed a
Petition for Administrative Review against an order of the Rent
Administrator issued June 5, 1990. The order concerned various
housing accommodations located at 144-87 41st Ave., Flushing, N.Y.
The Administrator directed restoration of services and ordered a
reduction of the stabilized rents.
The Commissioner has reviewed the record and carefully
considered that portion relevant to the issues raised by this
This proceeding was commenced on June 3, 1989 when forty-eight
(48) tenants of the subject building joined with the tenants of the
two other buildings in this complex in filing a Statement of
Complaint of Decrease in Building-Wide Services wherein they
alleged that the intercom was out of service and that the operation
of the elevators was erratic. The tenants attached to the
complaint a list of requested repairs including, among other
things, "Remove all graffiti from halls and stairwells."
The owner was served with a copy of the complaint and afforded
an opportunity to respond. In a response dated July 20, 1989 the
owner stated, in relevant part that all graffiti has been removed
but that this is an ongoing problem caused by vandalism and is
dealt with on a routine basis.
On November 5, 1989 the Administrator sent a notice to the
tenants requesting additional information regarding some of the
items in the complaint. The tenants did not respond.
On November 27, 1989 the owner sent an additional response to
the Administrator and stated that all matters raised in the
complaint had been investigated and attended to.
The Administrator ordered a physical inspection of the subject
building. Inspections were conducted on December 29, 1989 and
February 9, 1990. The first inspection revealed that two of the
three intercoms checked were defective and there were various
defects in the operation of the elevator. The second inspection
revealed evidence of graffiti on the wall of the lobby of the east
wing, broken and partially missing front right fence, and a missing
door on the right rear gate. All other services complained of were
found to have been maintained.
The Administrator issued the order here under review on June
5, 1990 citing the defective items reported by the inspector as the
basis for the rent reduction.
On appeal the owner raises the following arguments in
requesting reversal of the Administrator's order:
1. The inspector failed to personally inspect each
apartment for defective intercoms and could not
confirm that the tenants were operating the phones
2. An inspection of the intercoms of only three
apartments is insufficient to conclude that the
intercom system for 70 apartments is defective,
3. Two of the tenants whose intercoms were inspected
did not sign the complaint and were not eligible
for a rent reduction,
4. The DHCR does not have the technical expertise to
adjudicate matters involving elevator operation and
maintenance. The owner argues that the DHCR should
defer to the New York City Buildings Department's
greater expertise in the area of elevator
5. The graffiti condition in the lobby is a "minor"
condition caused by tenant or outside vandalism and
does not warrant a rent reduction,
6. The defective fence and gate were not mentioned in
the complaint and cannot be a basis for the rent
The petition was served on the tenants on August 27, 1990.
One tenant filed a response to the petition on September 12,
1990 and objected to the petition on the ground that the owner was
not providing the services set forth in the order here under
After careful review of the evidence in the record, the
Commissioner is of the opinion that the petition should be granted
in part and the order here under review should be revoked except as
to Apt. 307 for which a rent reduction based on a defective
intercom is affirmed.
With regard to the issue of the defective intercoms, the
Commissioner has reviewed the inspection report. The inspector
tested only three intercoms and found the buzzer mechanisms of all
three were functioning properly. Communications were hard to
understand over the intercoms of Apts. 307 and 308. The intercom
of Apt. 406 was reported to be functioning adequately. Based on
this report, the Administrator ordered a building-wide rent
reduction for rent stabilized tenants based, in part, on a finding
of defective intercoms.
The Commissioner is of the opinion that the investigation of
three intercoms in a building with 70 units was not a sufficient
sampling on which to base a building-wide rent reduction. In the
absence of a finding that some component of the intercom system
affecting all apartments is defective or a larger random sampling
of individual units the rent reduction must be limited to only
those apartments reported to have defective intercoms. The owner
is also correct in that the tenant of Apt. 308 did not sign the
complaint and therefore, is not entitled to a rent reduction.
Accordingly, the Administrator's order must be modified to cite the
defective intercom of Apt. 307 only as a basis for the rent
The Commissioner's review of the complaint reveals that there
is no mention of the fence and gate described in the order here
under review. A rent reduction may not be granted if the owner was
not put on notice of the defective condition in question. Since
the owner was never informed that these items were elements of the
complaint, this finding must also be revoked.
With regard to the issue of the elevators, the Commissioner
acknowledges that enforcement of applicable standards regarding
elevator operation and safety is under the jurisdiction of the New
York City Department of Buildings, which has long established,
comprehensive procedures and inspection programs in place. The
staff engaged in carrying out these programs has the necessary
technical expertise to conduct periodic inspections; to interpret
and apply relevant codes, regulations and industry standards and to
issue violations. Further, in view of the City's greater
experience with elevator enforcement, the City is in a better
position than the DHCR to determine appropriate performance
standards and ancillary equipment for elevators of varying age and
The Commissioner notes that a search of the Department of
Building records has revealed that no violations regarding the
subject elevator were confirmed while the complaint was pending
before the Rent Administrator. Therefore, the Commissioner finds
that sufficient evidence does not exist to support the
Administrator's finding regarding the elevator. This finding must,
therefore, be revoked.
The Administrator's finding regarding graffiti in the lobby is
also revoked. The Commissioner notes that the complaint filed by
the tenants requested that all graffiti be removed from halls and
stairwells. The owner responded on July 20, 1989 that all graffiti
would be removed within 60 days.
The physical inspection seven months later on February 9, 1990
cannot serve to establish that the graffiti was not promptly
removed by the owner in accordance with the intention stated in the
answer. In fact, the inspector reported that there was no graffiti
in the halls and stairwells, indicating that the condition as
described in the tenants' complaint was indeed addressed. As for
the graffiti in the lobby, the Commissioner is of the opinion that
the nature and extent of the condition is not adequately described
by the inspector to warrant a building-wide rent reduction.
In sum, the order here under review is revoked except for Apt.
307 for which the rent reduction is affirmed based on the defective
intercom. Rent arrears due as a result of this order may be paid
in installments of 24 months.
THEREFORE, pursuant to the Rent Stabilization Law and Code it
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, revoked except as to Apt. 307 for which a rent
reduction based on a defective intercom is affirmed.
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA