Docket Number: FE-430086-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  SJR No. 5692
        IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE :  ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
        APPEAL OF                              DOCKET NO.: FE 430086-RT
                                            :  
           LESLIE OTTOWAY, et al               DRO DOCKET NO.: EF  430120-OR
           
                              PETITIONER    : 
        ------------------------------------X                           
          
          ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING TENANTS' PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE
         REVIEW, IN PART, REVOKING RENT RESTORATION ORDER AND TERMINATING
                       RENT RESTORATION PROCEEDINGS AS MOOT

        On May 3, 1991, the above-named petitioner-tenant filed  a  Petition
        for Administrative Review against an order issued on April 1,  1991,
        concerning the housing accommodations known as 330 West 55th Street, 
        New  York,  NY,  wherein  the  Administrator  granted  the   owner's
        application to restore the tenants' rents previously  reduced  under
        Docket No. DH-430029-RP in an order dated December 26, 1989.  

        Thereafter, the tenants commenced a proceeding in the Supreme  Court
        pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, seeking, 
        in pertinent part, to reverse the Commissioner's order revoking  the
        tenants' rent reductions, to stay the rent restoration order  herein
        under appeal, and to consider  the  tenants'  allegations  that  the
        owner's submissions in the rent restoration proceeding below, and in 
        the underlying rent reduction proceedings, were fraudulent.  On  May
        31, 1991, the Court (Silberman, J.) issued an interim order, denying 
        the petitioner's request for a stay, and permitting the Division  to
        take such further action as  would  be  taken  had  the  Article  78
        proceedings not been brought, pending a final determination  in  the
        Article 78 proceedings.

        On August 13, 1991, the Court (Silberman, J.), on consent,  remitted
        the proceedings to the Division to consider the tenant's  allegation
        of fraud regarding submissions made by the  respondent  owner.   The
        Court's order also denied the tenant's request for  a  stay  of  the
        rent restoration order.

        In the underlying rent reduction order, the Administrator  found  as
        follows:

                  The evidence of record reveals that the owner
                  failed to comply with the directives of order
                  no.83863-B issued on May 5, 1987 wherein the
                  Division finds upon holding a Hearing, that
                  the service of the doorman's hours and days
                  were reduced from six (6) days to five (5)
                  days and from 1:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.  The
                  rent reduction ordered under this proceeding
                  was for Apt. 1-B only.

                  Subsequently, various tenants filed a 






          Docket Number: FE-430086-RT
                  statement of a decrease in building-wide
                  services stating the same allegations.  This
                  proceeding was assigned Docket #ZCA 430118-B.
                  A physical inspection was held on Nov. 4, 1988;
                  it revealed the following: Building clean and
                  well-kept.  There are five (5) machines
                  (three washers and two dryers).  One machine
                  was out of order (washing machine).  There is
                  a doorman from 4:00 P.M. to midnight,
                  Wednesday through Sunday.  Doorman wears a
                  uniform.

                  Inadvertently, an order denying application
                  of termination proceedings was issued on
                  March 17, 1989 to all the tenants who joined
                  in these proceedings.  On the basis that the
                  tenants received a rent reduction under
                  proceeding #83863-B, it is noted that 
                  proceedings is pending under an administrative
                  review Docket #BF410010-RO.  A determination
                  has not been made at this time.  Therefore, it
                  is ordered that the above-mentioned order
                  previously entered herein be, and is hereby
                  modified, and the legal regulated rent is 
                  hereby reduced by the percentage of the most
                  recent guidelines adjustment for the tenants'
                  leases, which commenced before the effective
                  date of this rent reduction.  Furthermore, no
                  rent increase may be collected after the
                  effective date of this rent reduction order
                  until a rent restoration order has been issued.
                  [Emphasis in the original]


        It is noted that the order did not  determine  the  complaint  of  a
        reduction of laundry room services.

        The owner commenced the rent restoration proceedings,  herein  under
        review, on or about June 1, 1990, claiming  that  the  services  for
        which the rent reduction had been issued were being provided pending 
        resolution of the owner's appeal of the rent reduction  order.   The
        owner stated that it was providing a  uniformed  doorman  from  4:00
        P.M. to  1:00 A.M. Tuesday through Sunday and that the laundry  room
        was open seven (7) days a week.

        The tenants filed basically identical responses, to the effect  that
        doorman services were not being provided as claimed, in that the 






          Docket Number: FE-430086-RT
        doorman was periodically unavailable on Sunday and  late  at  night,
        that doormen were frequently out of uniform, i.e., tie,  jacket  and
        dark pants, and that the doormen were not performing their functions 
        adequately.  The tenants  also  complained  that  the  laundry  room
        opened and 8:00 A.M. and closed at 10:00 P.M. rather than  remaining
        open twenty-four hours a day.

        An inspection was conducted on December 5, 1990, by a member of  the
        Division's inspection staff in  connection  with  the  owner's  rent
        restoration  proceedings.   The  inspector  reported  that  he   was
        informed by the owner's staff that uniformed doorman  services  were
        being provided, as asserted, from 4:00 P.M. to  1:00  A.M.,  Tuesday
        through Sunday, and that the laundry room was open seven days a week 
        and remained open as posted from 8:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. daily.

        On April 1, 1991, the Administrator issued an  order  restoring  the
        tenant's rent effective August 1, 1990, finding that the doorman and 
        laundry room service to be maintained.

        However, previously on  February  20,  1991,  the  Commissioner  had
        issued an order revoking  the  rent  reduction  order.   That  order
        provided, in pertinent part, the Administrator  had  inappropriately
        relied on the Administrator's finding in the proceedings  in  Docket
        No. 83863-B, rather than rendering  a  determination  based  on  the
        evidence in the record  under  Docket  No.  DH430029-RP/CA-430118-B.
        There being presented some evidence for finding the proof  presented
        and considered under Docket No. 83863-B to have been misleading, and 
        some question as to credibility of the tenant's witness with  regard
        to the issue of  doorman  services,  the  Commissioner  revoked  the
        Administrator's determination under Docket No.  83863-B,  and  under
        Docket No. DH430029-RP/CA430118-B issued in reliance  thereon.   The
        Commissioner  remanded  the  rent  reduction  proceedings   to   the
        Administrator for a complete and thorough consideration of the facts 
        de novo.  

        As a consequence of the revocation of the rent reduction order,  the
        owner's application for restoration of rent was rendered moot.   The
        Commissioner therefore finds that the rent  restoration  order  must
        also be revoked and the rent restoration  proceeding  terminated  as
        moot.  

        Concerning the remit by the Court, to the Division, on  consent  for
        the limited purpose of consideration by  the  Division  whether  the
        tenants' allegation of fraud warranted a stay of the  Commissioner's
        February 20, 1991 orders revoking rent reductions, the  Commissioner
        finds the sworn affidavits of two (2) of the thirty-one (31) tenants 
        disputing that they signed the document in the record, stating  that
        there the doorman always worked five (5) days a week from 4:00  P.M.
        to 12:00 P.M., inadequate to establish that the  owner  committed  a
        fraud.

        One affiant attests that while he did, in fact, sign a  petition  in
        support of a doorman who some people wanted to fire, the document 






          Docket Number: FE-430086-RT
        was "doctored" with and a new heading added, after the tenant signed 
        the document.  The second affiant avers that she  never  signed  the
        document.

        The tenants "proof" of fraud, prepared  in  support  of  litigation,
        several years after the events described, and  introducing  a  novel
        explanation  of  the  situation,  is  insufficient  to  permit   the
        Commissioner to establish that the owner committed fraud.

        Moreover, while the Commissioner found documents  submitted  by  the
        owner, of value in the decision to revoke the underlying  individual
        rent reduction orders (Docket No. 83863-B and DH 430029-RP/
        CA-430118-B), the Commissioner found more persuasive,  the  tenant's
        own 1976 letter setting forth the doorman's hours in  1976,  to  the
        effect that the doorman worked from 4:00 P.M. to  11:00  P.M.   That
        letter requested a  rent  reduction  for  the  period  during  which
        doorman services had not been provided due to a strike, and does not 
        complain about a partial reduction of doorman hours, as  the  tenant
        claims.

        As  to  the  tenants'  general  speculation  that  other   documents
        submitted by the owner were fraudulent, the Commissioner points  out
        that the Administrator did not consider all available  documents  in
        the record of the in the building-wide rent reduction complaint (DH 
        430020-RP/CA-430118-B), but improperly relied solely on the  owner's
        failure to restore rent as directed to  do  so  in  the  prior  rent
        reduction granted to a individual tenant under Docket Number 
        83863-B.  Clearly  the  Administrator  should  have  considered  the
        owner's submissions in the building-wide rent reduction  proceedings
        below (DH-430029-RP/CA-430118-B) for all purposes; albeit they  were
        not part of the  Administrator's  record  in  the  prior  individual
        complaint (Docket no.83863-B).

        This order is issued without  prejudice  to  the  parties  right  to
        present  the  submissions  herein  to  the  Administrator   in   the
        proceeding  under  Docket  No.  EE-410024-RP,  and  to  request  the
        Administrator to consider additional  questions,  raised,  including
        the question of misrepresentations, if any, by any party.

        THEREFORE, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 403, Law  of
        1983, as amended by Chapter 102 of the Laws of 1984, it is

        ORDERED, that the petition be granted to the extent of revoking  the
        Administrator's  rent  restoration  order  as  moot,  and  that  the
        proceedings be terminated as moot.

        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