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.: EH130350RO
DOCKET NO.: DF130098B
MONTE CARLO LEASING COMPANY,
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
AND AFFIRMING RENT REDUCTION ORDER, AS MODIFIED
On August 31, 1990, the above-named petitioner-owner filed a
petition for administrative review (PAR) of an order issued on
August 1, 1990, by the Rent Administrator, concerning the housing
accommodation known as 631 Beach 9th Street, Queens, New York
wherein the Administrator determined the tenants' complaint of a
reduction of several building-wide services, filed in June 1989.
The challenged order reduced the tenants' rents based on the
results of an inspection conducted on June 13, 1990 that found that
the elevator did not level properly on several floors. The
inspector also found that the owner had failed to replace a missing
doorknob on a stairwell door, and that several doorknobs were
Prior inspections on March 19, 1990 and April 25, 1990
established that other complaints were unfounded or that the
conditions had been addressed.
On appeal, the owner objects to the DHCR's processing of the
tenants' elevator complaint, asserting that the elevator issue
should have been adjudicated by the New York City Buildings
Department. The owner also asserts that the doorknob conditions
constituted items of routine maintenance rather than a failure to
Copies of the owner's administrative appeal were served on the
tenants on October 2, 1990.
The Commissioner notes in the first instance that the DHCR has
the requisite authority to process the tenants' complaint of
elevator service decreases. Section 2523.4 of the Rent
Stabilization Code states that a tenant may apply to the DHCR for
a rent reduction and "the DHCR shall so reduce the rent for the
period for which it is found that the owner has failed to maintain
services." Section 2520.6(r) of the Code defines required services
to include repairs, decorating, maintenance and elevator services,
among other items.
It is noted that on two (2) of the three (3) occasions that
DHCR staff inspections visited the subject building the elevator
was operational, albeit not levelling properly. Elevator repairs
were being conducted for broken elevator doors at the time of the
first inspection on March 19, 1990.
New York City Department of Buildings violation reports were
obtained in conjunction with the instant appeal. The City
Department of Buildings has long-established comprehensive
procedures, and inspection programs in place, and the City staff
engaged in carrying out these programs also has the necessary
technical expertise to conduct periodic inspections, to interpret
and apply relevant codes regulations and industry standards; and to
issue violations. Furthermore, 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 only City elevator inspection between the time the com-
plaint was filed in June 1989 and the date of the Administrator's
order, August 1, 1990, was conducted on September 20, 1989, and
revealed no elevator violations. The Commissioner finds, therefore,
that the Administrator's finding below, that the elevator failed to
level properly, was not sufficient to support a determination of
decreased elevator service, and should be revoked as a predicate
for rent reductions.
However, the Commissioner rejects the owner's argument that
the determination concerning doorknobs is arbitrary, capricious and
contrary to law, in that the item constitutes ordinary everyday
Loose and/or missing doorknobs, particularly those of a
stairwell door, can, in some circumstances, constitute a hazardous
condition. In addition, notice of these problems, was given to the
owner by service of the tenant's complaint on July 19, 1989.
However, an inspection in June 1990 found that the conditions
persisted. The owner's apparent failure to conduct what amounted
to minor repair work and routine maintenance over an extended
period of time further justified a rent reduction for this item.
The Commissioner also rejects the owner's argument that rent
reductions were not warranted as several "substantially more
consequential [service] items were found to be maintained" and that
only "a few loose door knobs out of several hundred" were found.
The Courts have held that once the Division determines that a
diminution in required services has occurred, the Division must
order a rent reduction. Hyde Park Gardens v. DHCR, 140 A.D.2d 351,
527 N.Y.S. 2d 841.(A.D. 2nd Dept.), affd, 73 N.Y.2d 998, 541
N.Y.S.2d 345 (Ct.App 1989).
For rent stabilized tenants, rent reductions are imposed for
any service decrease. Therefore, the rent abatements granted per
the Administrator's order are affirmed.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the provisions of the Rent
Stabilization Law and Code, it is,
ORDERED, that the owner's petition be denied and that the
Administrator's order be affirmed, as modified to delete the
elevator's failure to level as a predicate for rent reductions.
Joseph A. D'Agosta