STATE OF NEW YORK
DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL
OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
92-31 UNION HALL STREET
JAMAICA, NY 11433
IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
APPEALS OF DOCKET NOS.:
London Terrace Associates,
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING PETITIONS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
The above-named owner filed timely petitions for administrative
review of orders concerning the housing accommodations located at
410 West 24th Street, Apartments 7C, 7G, and 7K, wherein the Rent
Administrator determined the tenants' individual complaints of
The Commissioner has reviewed all the evidence in the record and
has carefully considered the portion of the records relevant to the
issues raised by the petitions.
The tenants commenced these proceedings by filing individual
complaints asserting that the owner had failed to maintain intercom
system services to their apartments.
In separate answers, the owner denied the allegations set forth in
the complaints, and asserted that required services were maintained
in that the owner was "employing a substitute service providing an
equivalent degree of security and convenience at no cost to the
tenants." The owner did not specify the nature of the substitute
service. The owner also alleged that the tenants' complaints were
duplicative of a prior complaint of a defective intercom system
that was dismissed by the Rent Administrator, and affirmed by the
Commissioner upon administrative appeal by the tenants.
Thereafter, the DHCR conducted inspections of the intercom
equipment in the subject apartments. The inspector reported that
the intercom stations in the apartments were not functioning. The
inspector did not report on the existence of a substitute intercom
service as alleged by the owner.
The Rent Administrator directed the owner to restore the intercom
service and further, ordered a reduction of the controlled rents.
In its petitions for administrative review, the owner reiterates
that as the owner is providing a substitute service, rent
reductions were not warranted. The owner, for the first time on
appeal, states that the system is incorporated into the tenants'
regular telephone service. The owner explains that the system is
equipped so that the tenants can reach the lobby attendant promptly
by a toll-free number, and that the tenants' phones have a call-
waiting feature so that they can be reached by building personnel
even when their phones are otherwise in use. The owner reiterates
that the system provides an equivalent degree of security and
convenience at no cost to the tenant as well as the assertion that
a prior complaint of a defective intercom system was dismissed.
Each tenant was served a copy of the owner's petition of the order
affecting their apartment. In answer to the owner's petition, the
tenant of Apartment 7K (GD120178RO) alleged that there is no toll-
free telephone number, that she is charged for calling the lobby
attendant through the telephone equipment, and that there is no
call-waiting feature whereby a tenant can be signaled from the
lobby even if the tenant is otherwise engaged in a telephone
After careful consideration, the Commissioner is of the opinion
that the owner's petitions should be denied.
Pursuant to Section 2202.16 of the City Rent and Eviction
Regulations, the Rent Administrator may impose a rent reduction if
there has been a decrease in essential services, furnishings or
equipment among other items.
Section 2202.21 of the Regulations requires an owner to file an
application to obtain prior permission to decrease such items in
occupied rent controlled apartments. Conversion of equipment may
only be undertaken by application because a change from a separate
intercom system connecting the apartment to other building
locations, to a system operating through the tenants' telephone
equipment, depending upon the facts in the case may result in a
decrease in services.
There is no evidence or assertion that the owner ever applied to
the DHCR for an order granting the owner permission to modify or
substitute the intercom system services. Since there was no such
order, the Rent Administrator properly decreased the tenants' rents
based upon a finding of decreased services, in that the intercom
system was not operating. The Commissioner also rejects the
owner's further argument that a dismissal of the tenants'
complaints was warranted, based on the fact that the tenants' prior
complaint under Docket No. DD430041B was dismissed by the DHCR on
September 24, 1990, on the grounds that the intercom was
operational. The fact that the intercom was operational at that
time does not preclude a finding that the equipment was not
operational thereafter, as confirmed upon inspection.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the City Rent and Eviction
Regulations, it is
ORDERED, that the owner's petitions be, and the same hereby are,
denied, and that the Rent Administrator's orders be, and the same
hereby, are affirmed.
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA