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.:
Adrienne Usdan and Milford
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING OWNER'S PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE
REVIEW AND GRANTING IN PART TENANT'S PETITION FOR
On September 4, 1992 and September 9, 1992, the above-named
petitioner-tenant and owner filed petitions for administrative
review (PAR) of an order issued on August 3, 1992, by the Rent
Administrator, concerning the housing accommodation known as 55
West 14th Street, New York, N.Y., Apt. 11-J, wherein the
Administrator determined that a reduction in rent was warranted
based upon a reduction in services.
The Commissioner has consolidated these two petitions as they
involve common questions of law and fact.
The Rent Administrator also directed full restoration of services.
The Commissioner has reviewed all the evidence in the record and
has carefully considered that portion of the record relevant to the
issues raised by the administrative appeals.
The issue herein is whether the Rent Administrator properly reduced
the rent of the subject apartment.
On January 29, 1992, the tenant filed a complaint alleging that the
owner failed to maintain the stove pilot-light, the refrigerator,
the bathroom and bedroom ceilings; mail services were being
interfered with and that odors were emanating from the bathroom
pipes and fixtures.
In answer to the complaint, the owner stated that the tenant has
not requested any repairs from the building superintendent and
building employees do not tamper with her mail. The owner enclosed
a copy of a letter it sent to the tenant on November 10, 1989,
regarding the tenant's request that mail addressed to the tenant at
the building be redirected to the tenant's post office box.
A DHCR inspection conducted on May 11, 1992, revealed that stove
pilot-light services were not being maintained but that all other
service items enumerated in the complaint were being maintained.
The inspector noted that the refrigerator was found disconnected
and that the condition of the unit could not be ascertained.
In a letter dated May 14, 1992, the tenant's attorney stated that
the refrigerator was disconnected at the suggestion of inspections
from Con Edison who, 46 months ago, noted that the compressor was
broken. The letter advises that the tenant wishes to have the
inoperative unit removed so that she can install her own
The rent reduction order appealed herein cited only the stove pilot
as a condition warranting a rent reduction.
On appeal, under Docket No. GJ410182RT, the petitioner-tenant
asserted, in pertinent part, that the DHCR inspector erred, insofar
as the rent reduction ordered by the Rent Administrator should have
covered additional service deficiencies enumerated in the complaint
and that consequently the rent reduction should have been greater.
On appeal, under Docket No. GI410047RO, the petitioner-owner
asserted, in pertinent part, that the tenant failed to specify or
notify it of any stove problem and that the tenant uses dilatory
tactics in providing access to her apartment.
In Docket No. GJ410182RT, the petition was served on the owner on
November 2, 1992.
In Docket No. GI410047RO, the petition was served on the tenant, on
September 24, 1992, and on October 8, 1992, the tenant filed an
answer stating that the owner failed to make the necessary repairs
and that the owner was generally unresponsive to her repair
After a careful consideration of the entire evidence of record the
Commissioner is of the opinion that the owner's administrative
appeal should be denied and the tenant's should be granted in part.
Pursuant to Section 2523.4(a) of the Rent Stabilization Code, a
tenant may apply to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal
(DHCR) for a reduction of the legal regulated rent to the level in
effect prior to the most recent guidelines adjustment, and the DHCR
shall so reduce the rent for the period for which it is found that
the owner has failed to maintain required services. The rent
reduction may not be greater or less than a guideline regardless of
the nature and extent of the service deficiencies.
Required services are defined in Section 2520.6(r) to include
repairs, painting and maintenance.
With regard to the tenant's petition filed under Docket No.
GJ410182RT, the Commissioner is of the opinion that the evidence of
record supports the tenant's contention regarding the refrigerator.
The tenant complained that this appliance was inoperative and the
inspector confirmed that it was not working. The absence of any
evidence by the owner regarding attempts to repair, replace, or
even investigate the defective unit warrants the inclusion of the
inoperative refrigerator among the conditions for which the rent is
As to the mail tampering claim, the Commissioner is of the opinion
that the DHCR lacks jurisdiction over this matter and the tenant
may file a separate complaint with the U.S. Postal Service, if the
facts so warrant.
With regards to the owner's petition filed under Docket No.
GI410047RO, a review of the record before the Administrator clearly
shows that the owner did not submit any evidence that the
deficiency noted on the inspector's report was completed in a
workmanlike manner at the time of the DHCR's inspection or at any
time prior to the issuance of the Administrator's order.
The Commissioner notes that the file is also absent any evidence
showing that the tenant failed to provide timely access to the
owner's workers. Accordingly, the owner has not established any
basis for modifying or revoking the determination regarding the
Upon a complete restoration of the refrigerator and the stove
pilot, the owner may separately apply for full rent restoration.
The automatic stay of the retroactive rent abatement that resulted
by the filing of the owner's petition is vacated upon issuance of
this order and opinion.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the provisions of the Rent
Stabilization Law and Code, it is
ORDERED, that the owner's administrative appeal be and the same
hereby is, denied, that the tenant's appeal be and the same hereby
is granted in part and that the Administrator's order be, and the
same hereby is, modified to include the inoperative refrigerator as
a condition warranting a rent reduction.
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA