FC 110115-RT
                                  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. 6254
          IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE :  ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
          APPEAL OF                              DOCKET NO. FC 110115-RT

                                              :  DISTRICT RENT OFFICE
               Mark Adelson,                     DOCKET NO. BB 110020-R

                     

                                PETITIONER    : 
          ------------------------------------X 

               ORDER AND OPINION REMANDING THE PROCEEDING TO THE RENT
                                    ADMINISTRATOR


          On March  8,  1991,  the  above-named  petitioner-tenant  filed  a
          Petition for Administrative Review  against  an  order  issued  on
          February 7, 1991, by Rent Administrator,  concerning  the  housing
          accommodations known as 23-15 30th Avenue, Astoria,     New  York,
          Apartment No. A1, wherein it was determined  that  the  owner  had
          overcharged the tenant.

          Subsequent thereto, the petitioner-tenant filed a petition in  the
          Supreme Court pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and 
          Rules, in  the  nature  of  mandamus,  for  a  judgment  directing
          determination of the petitioner's administrative appeal.

          The Administrative Appeal is  being  determined  pursuant  to  the
          provisions of Section 2522.4 of the Rent Stabilization Code.

          The issue herein is whether the  Rent  Administrator's  order  was
          warranted.

          The Commissioner has reviewed all of the evidence  in  the  record
          and has carefully considered that portion of the  record  relevant
          to the issue raised by the administrative appeal.  

          The tenant  originally  commenced  this  proceeding  by  filing  a
          complaint of rent overcharge on May 20, 1987.  The tenant  assumed
          occupancy in March, 1986 at a rent of $728.00 per month.   In  the
          complaint, the tenant stated that the former  tenant  had  paid  a
          rent of $322.27, but that,  in  addition  to  the  guidelines  and
          vacancy increases, the owner had added a monthly charge of $334.39 
          for the cost of kitchen improvements.   The  tenant  doubted  that
          these  improvements  -  which  computed  to  an  overall  cost  of
          $13,000.00  -  were  ever  made.   The  tenant  then  demanded  an
          inspection to verify the actual value of the owner's claim.

          The owner was served with a copy of the complaint and was directed 
          to submit a complete rental history.  The owner was  advised  that
          if it  claimed  a  rent  increase  for  the  installation  of  new
          equipment, it was required to submit invoices showing the cost and 






          FC 110115-RT
          date of installation.  

          In response, the owner submitted the lease history and the initial 
          registration form documenting the  initial  rent  of  the  subject
          premises at $322.27 per month, as well as a one page invoice  from
          a contractor listing  various  improvements  and  repairs  to  the
          apartment at a total cost of $13,376.00.  The  owner  also  stated
          that the complaint failed to mention that there was a tenant prior 
          to the complainant, who lived in the apartment from April, 1985 to 
          March, 1986 at a rent of $700.00 per month.  Also included  was  a
          copy of the cancelled check to the contractor, for the full amount 
          claimed, dated April 30, 1985, and a copy of  the  lease  for  the
          prior tenant at a rent of $700.00 per month.  Finally,  the  owner
          included a DHCR order partially approving an MCI application,  for
          which it had recently filed a PAR.

          On November 26, 1990 the Administrator sent  a  Final  Notice  and
          preliminary  findings  of  rent  overcharges  in  the  amount   of
          $6,047.40, including treble damages and excess security.

          In  a  letter  dated  December  7,  1990,  the  tenant's  attorney
          questioned  the  basis   for   the   Administrator's   preliminary
          determinations, especially the claimed cost of  the  improvements.
          Copies of all invoices, cancelled  checks  and  other  submissions
          regarding  this   claim   were   requested.    The   Administrator
          subsequently forwarded this material to the tenant's attorney.

          By order dated February 7, 1991, the Rent Administrator determined 
          that the tenant had been overcharged in the amount  of  $5,956.99,
          including treble damages for overcharges after April 1, 1984.  The 
          Administrator allowed a monthly increase of $296.90 of the claimed 
          equipment  costs  (or  for  $11,876.00  out  of  the   claim   for
          $13,314.75), but  disallowed  the  costs  of  the  broken  plaster
          removal and sheet rock installation because it was maintenance and 
          repair.

          In his petition, dated March 6,  1991,  the  tenant  disputes  the
          amount awarded  for  the  new  equipment  and  contends  that  the
          Administrator improperly failed to consider its objection  to  the
          claim.  The petitioner also submitted a verified affidavit from an 
          architect that challenged specific items listed on the invoice  as
          inaccurate  and  possibly  fraudulent.   The  petitioner  strongly
          objected  to  the  Administrator's  failure  to  conduct  its  own
          inspection of the apartment, which the  tenant  had  requested  on
          more than one occasion.

          In its answer, the  owner  contends  that  the  tenant's  petition
          should be dismissed because the cost of all of the  items  claimed
          by the owner were documented, and have previously been  acceptable
          as 20(c)(1) improvements by the DHCR, including  the  labor  costs
          for removing the items being replaced.

          The Commissioner is of the opinion that this proceeding should  be
          remanded to the Rent Administrator for a new determination.

          At the  outset,  the  record  establishes  that,  in  addition  to
          requesting a general review of the rent history,  the  tenant  had
          specifically objected to  the  owner's  claim  for  the  costs  of
          improvements to the kitchen.  The tenant asked that an  inspection






          FC 110115-RT
          be conducted by the DHCR to determine the accuracy of this  claim.
          In subsequent letters to the Administrator, the tenant  reiterated
          his request  for  an  inspection,  and  requested  copies  of  all
          invoices  and  cancelled  checks.    In   spite   of   this,   the
          Administrator apparently relied upon the owner's one page contract 
          with  the  contracting  company  as   reliable   proof   of   cost
          expenditures  and  work  performed,  and  only  disallowed   about
          $2,000.00 of the  claim  as  maintenance  and  repair.   But  this
          superficial review is inadequate, especially  since  it  fails  to
          address the core of  the  tenant's  objection.   Furthermore,  the
          contract itself is too general  to  permit  close  scrutiny.   For
          instance, there is no cost breakdown or listing of make and  model
          numbers for each item of equipment  or  for  the  cost  of  labor.
          Additionally, further  investigation  is  required,  including  an
          inspection, to determine whether the items claimed  were  actually
          installed.  In this regard, the architect's  report  submitted  by
          the tenant would be useful for points of comparison.

          THEREFORE,  in  accordance  with  the  provisions  of   the   Rent
          Stabilization Law and Code, it is

          ORDERED, that this petition be and the same hereby is  granted  to
          the extent of remanding  this  proceeding  to  the  District  Rent
          Administrator for further processing in accordance with this order 
          and opinion.  The automatic stay of so much of the  District  Rent
          Administrator's order as directed a  refund  is  hereby  continued
          until  a  new  order  is  issued  upon   remand.    However,   the
          Administrator's determination as to the rent  is  not  stayed  and
          shall remain in effect, except  for  any  adjustment  pursuant  to
          lease renewals, until the Administrator issues a  new  Order  upon
          remand.

          ISSUED:

                                                                        
                                          JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                          Acting Deputy Commissioner




                     























          FC 110115-RT














    

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