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.: FH130338RO
JONATHAN LEVIN RENT
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
On August 22, 1991 the above named petitioner-owner filed a
Petition for Administrative Review against an order of the Rent
Administrator issued July 23, 1991. The order concerned various
housing accommodations located at 144-54 Sanford Avenue, flushing,
N.Y. The Administrator directed restoration of services and
ordered a rent reduction for failure to maintain required services.
The Commissioner has reviewed the record and carefully
considered that portion relevant to the issues raised by this
This proceeding was commenced on October 25, 1990 when 22
tenants joined in filing a Statement of Complaint of Decrease in
Building-Wide Services wherein they alleged, in sum, that the owner
was not maintaining certain required building services including
the fact that the building elevator did not stop level on all
The owner was served with a copy of the complaint and afforded
an opportunity to respond. The owner filed a response on January
23, 1991 and stated, in relevant part, that the elevator leveling
problem had been investigated but that the elevator repair service
retained by the owner had advised it that it was impossible to
adjust the elevator to level perfectly every time. The owner stated
that, regardless of the amount of maintenance done to the elevator,
the leveling condition could not be 100% corrected and that the New
York City Department of Buildings had not issued any violations
with regard to the subject elevator.
The Administrator ordered a physical inspection of the subject
building. The inspection was conducted on December 17, 1990. The
building was reinspected on February 12, 1991. The inspections
revealed that the elevator did not stop level on the first, second,
third and fourth floors by 1 1/2 inch either ascending or
descending. All other services were reported as being maintained.
The Administrator issued the order here under review on July
23, 1991 and ordered a rent reduction of an amount equal to the
percentage of the most recent guideline adjustment for the tenants'
leases commencing prior to December 1, 1990, based on the above
described inspection reports.
On appeal the owner states the following arguments in seeking
reversal of the order here under review:
1. The tenants' complaint spoke of the elevator not
leveling by several feet while the Administrator's
order states that the elevator does not level by
only 1 1/2 inches. The condition cannot be
corrected no matter what maintenance is done,
2. No violations were reported for the subject
elevator and it always passed inspection,
3. Only the rent stabilized tenants from the first,
second, third and fourth floors should have been
granted a rent reduction as they are the only ones
affected by the condition,
4. The conditions cited are trivial in nature.
The order was served on the tenants on September 18, 1991.
Various tenants filed responses and stated, in sum, that the
order here under review was correctly issued and should be
After careful review of the evidence in the record, the
Commissioner is of the opinion that the petition should be denied.
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 and 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
standards and ancillary equipment for elevators of varying age and
The Commissioner notes that a search of the records of the
Department of Buildings reveals that a violation was issued by the
Department on February 20, 1991, while the complaint was pending
before the Administrator. The violation was issued, in part, based
on an elevator leveling condition found by the DOB inspector. The
DOB records confirm the tenants' complaint and the inspection
reports of the DHCR.
The Commissioner rejects the owner's arguments on appeal as
being without merit. The elevator services all building tenants so
all are affected by the decrease in services and are entitled to a
rent reduction, regardless of which floor they live on. The above
described DOB violation report clearly reflects the fact that the
elevator in question was not operating according to industry
standards nor did the DOB consider the violations too trivial to
disregard. The order here under review is affirmed.
The automatic stay of the retroactive rent abatement which
resulted from the filing of the owner's petition is vacated upon
issuance of this order and opinion. The owner may file for rent
restoration when the elevator has been completely repaired.
THEREFORE, pursuant to the Rent Stabilization Law and Code it
ORDERED, that this petition be, and the same hereby is,
denied, and that the Rent Administrator's order be, and the same
hereby is, affirmed.
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA