CTRC Fact Sheet Index

TenantNet note: These Fact Sheets were published by CTRC in the mid-1990's. Some information will be out-of-date. As far as we know, there have been no updates to these fact sheets. While much of the information may still be valid, the reader should exercise caution.

CTRC Fact Sheets -- reproduced with permission.
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The Community Training Resource Center (CTRC) is a city-wide not-
for-profit organization that champions the rights of modest and
low-income tenants and promotes the preservation, improvement,
and expansion of affordable housing. CTRC provides training and
technical assistance for neighborhood housing groups, community
based organizations, legislative staffs and social service
providers.

CTRC produces fact sheets on tenants' rights, develops and
publishes research reports, and provides a written guide to New
York City government processes. CTRC advocates on budget policies
that affect housing and related services in low-income
neighborhoods. CTRC has led the campaign for the improvement and
expansion of the city's Housing Maintenance Code inspection and
enforcement services.
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CTRC Fact Sheet #109

TENANT COMPLAINTS TO THE
DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL

The DHCR is the state agency charged with administering the Rent
Control (RC) and Rent Stabilization Laws (RS). These laws direct
the DHCR to process and resolve various complaints by tenants
involving, but not limited to, legal regulated rents,
overcharges, leases and lease renewals, service reductions and
harassment. The DHCR also processes rent increase and eviction
applications by landlords.

Some complaints regarding rent stabilization or rent control may
be filed only with the DHCR; other complaints may be made to the
DHCR and local (municipal or county) agencies that have housing
enforcement responsibilities. Tenants should always consider
filing with multiple agencies as a more effective means to
achieve results.

The complaint forms described below are available to tenants at
DHCR district rent offices or may be ordered by telephone. The
"RS" or "RC" at the end of each section indicates whether rent
controlled or rent stabilized tenants or both may use the form.
Unregulated tenants do not come under DHCR jurisdiction, but are
afforded, other, important rights by various local and state
tenant protection laws; see fact sheets, Code Enforcement,
Fighting Eviction in Small Buildings and Statutory Rights of
Tenants.


RENT & LEASES
=============

TENANT'S COMPLAINT OF RENT OVERCHARGE AND/OR EXCESS SECURITY
DEPOSIT (FORM RA-89)

     The purpose of this complaint is to determine if a tenant
     has been overcharged for rent. This form may be filed by any
     tenant who moves into a rent stabilized apartment after
     April 1, 1984. The landlord will be required to produce rent
     records proving that the current rent is legal. If the
     records are not produced, the DHCR may order the rent to be
     lowered.

     Questions that require the tenant to provide evidence of
     rent overcharge or to do calculations to prove it, need not
     be answered; the law places the responsibility for that kind
     of information on the landlord and the DHCR jointly.

     The following practices may entitle the tenant to a lower
     rent:

     o    rent increases in excess of the legal guidelines

     o    more than one guideline increase during a lease term

     o    failure to furnish a copy of the lease or the Rent
          Stabilization Lease Rider

     o    failure to pay the annual apartment registration fee

     o    failure to get DHCR approval for a Major Capital
          Improvement Rent Increase,

     o    failure, upon challenge, to provide receipts or proof
          of payment for new equipment or renovation improvements
          that resulted in rent increases

     Landlords may not hold more than one month's legal rent as a
     security deposit. Any amount in excess of that is considered
     an overcharge. RA-89 is the appropriate complaint form to
     use. (RS)


TENANT OBJECTION TO INITIAL RENT/SERVICES REGISTRATION
(FORM TC-1)

     This form has a limited, but exact, purpose; it was
     originally intended to be used by tenants to challenge the
     initial 1984 registration of rents and services of all
     regulated apartments. Although Rent Stabilization Laws were
     enacted in 1969, no provision for annual registration was
     made until the Omnibus Act of 1983 was passed. Annual
     registration, under DHCR supervision, began April 1, 1984.

     The form is now used to challenge the first stabilized rent
     or "Initial Legal Registered Rent" charged by the landlord
     after a vacancy in a previously rent controlled apartment;
     the process is known as a Fair Market Rent Appeal. Tenants
     should, when filing the TC-1 (TC-2 in Spanish), check the
     boxes that indicate "overcharge" and "Fair Market Rent
     Appeal" to specify the nature of the complaint.

     This form can also be used to challenge the individual and
     building-wide services listed as provided, by the landlord,
     on Forms RR-1 and RR-3. These forms are not to be used for
     complaints of ordinary loss or decrease in services. For
     that form see below. (RS)


TENANT'S COMPLAINT OF OWNER'S FAILURE TO RENEW LEASE AND/OR
FAILURE TO FURNISH A COPY OF SIGNED LEASE (FORM RA-9OA)

     A new tenant who rents a stabilized apartment is entitled to
     a vacancy lease for a one or two year term (tenant's choice)
     signed by the landlord or his agent along with a copy of the
     Rent Stabilization Rider. The rider explains key provisions
     of the law and lists the previous regulated rent and how the
     current rent was computed. The tenant has an automatic right
     to a lease renewal. The landlord must give written notice of
     renewal 150 to 120 days before the expiration of the
     existing lease on DHCR Renewal Lease Form RTP-8. Attached to
     every renewal form, there must be a copy of the Rent
     Stabilization Rider as well.

     The tenant has 60 days to accept, sign, and return copies of
     the renewal form or to decide not to renew. If the landlord
     fails to send these forms in the required time frame, or if
     he does and then does not return an executed (signed) copy
     within 30 days after the tenant has signed and returned
     them, then the tenant may file RA-90. The DHCR will issue an
     order directing the landlord to provide the tenant with the
     executed lease or rider or both. If there is no compliance
     within 20 days, the new rent increase will be suspended and
     the landlord may be fined.

     See our fact sheet, Leases and Lease Renewals for Rent
     Stabilized Tenants.(RS)


SERVICES & MAINTENANCE
======================

INDIVIDUAL TENANT STATEMENT OF COMPLAINT OF DECREASE IN SERVICES
(FORM RA-81A)

     Rent Stabilized tenants are entitled to services required by
     the stabilization laws as of the base-dates May 31, 1968
     and/or May 29, 1974. These required services include:
     repairs, decorating and maintenance, heat and hot water,
     janitorial services, and refuse removal.

     Rent Controlled apartments must be provided with all
     services furnished or required to have been furnished as of
     the base date March 1, 1943 and all authorized service
     increases or decreases since that base date. These services,
     also called required services, may include: repairs,
     decorating and maintenance, heat, hot water, elevator
     service, building staff such as superintendents and
     handymen, refuse removal, etc.

     Within apartments, service reductions typically consist of;
     peeling paint or plaster, broken windows, faulty electrical
     circuits, inoperative appliances (refrigerator or stove
     supplied by landlord), defective plumbing, etc.

     Tenants should first notify the landlord of any decrease in
     their apartment services. Notification should be in writing,
     by certified mail with return receipt. Failure by the
     landlord to restore services within a reasonable or agreed
     upon date should prompt the tenant to file DHCR Form RA-81a.
     See fact sheet Rent Reductions for Lack of Services. (RC,RS)


STATEMENT OF COMPLAINT OF A DECREASE IN BUILDING-WIDE SERVICES
(FORM RA-84)

     Stabilized tenants who wish to complain of a decrease in a
     building wide service (such as lack of heat or hot water,
     unsanitary garbage disposal, faulty plumbing, or breaches of
     building security) and seek a rent reduction as partial
     compensation, must each sign a joint complaint on Form RA-
     84. However, not all rent controlled tenants need sign the
     form, as long as one does, any resulting DHCR action will
     apply to all the controlled tenants in the building.

     Tenants should, again, first attempt to get the landlord to
     remedy any building wide service problem, with notification
     by receipted mail, before filing RA-84; otherwise the DHCR
     might consider the filing premature.

     A copy of the complaint is sent to the landlord with a
     notice to reply. Tenants will receive a copy of this reply,
     if there is one. Upon a landlord's reply, tenants have 20
     days to answer. If questions of fact are unresolved, a DHCR
     inspection may be ordered and if the tenant complaint is
     confirmed, rent reductions and a rent freeze for stabilized
     tenants (controlled rents become frozen only if the reduced
     services are essential) will be ordered along with an order
     to restore services. If the latter is ignored, landlord is
     subject to further fines and/or penalties. (RC,RS)


TENANT'S APPLICATION FOR RENT REDUCTION BASED UPON THE OWNER'S
FAILURE TO PROVIDE AND MAINTAIN HEAT AND/OR HOT WATER SERVICE(S)
(FORM HHW-1)

     Individual tenants may file DHCR Form HHW-1. For supportive
     evidence, a diary of daily indoor and outdoor temperatures
     should be kept, including photographs of inoperative heating
     systems (frozen pipes, cold furnaces), as well as copies of
     all written correspondence to the landlord requesting
     repairs.

     The DHCR, upon corroborating complaints of lack of heat
     and/or hot water, may reduce the rents and forbid any
     increases until services are restored. See our fact sheet,
     Heat and Hot Water Complaints. (RC,RS)

     Before filing with the DHCR, tenants in New York City who
     are without heat or hot water should first call, repeatedly
     if necessary, the NYC Central Complaint Bureau's Hotline at
     212-824-4328. When a code enforcement inspector is sent, he
     will issue building violations, and if necessary, authorize
     emergency repairs. This strategy is also available to
     tenants living in unregulated private buildings.


TENANT STATEMENT OF COMPLAINT'(S) HARASSMENT (FORM RA-60H)

     The DHCR is responsible for processing, hearing, and
     resolving complaints alleging landlord harassment.
     Harassment is defined as an activity or course of conduct on
     the part of a landlord designed to drive tenants out of
     their apartment or give up rights granted them by the Rent
     Stabilization Laws or Rent Control Laws. Harassment is
     further defined as a continuous, patterned action that
     intends to, or does interfere with or disturb, the "privacy,
     comfort, peace, repose, or quiet enjoyment of the tenant in
     his or her use or occupancy of the housing accommodation".
     Interruption or discontinuance of required services,
     engaging in unwarranted or base-less court proceedings,
     arson, and verbal or physical abuse are all forms of
     harassment.

     Tenants may file harassment charges on Form RA-60H with the
     Enforcement Bureau of DHCR.

     The bureau is staffed with attorneys who specialize in this
     aspect of the rent laws. Landlords found guilty of tenant
     harassment, are subject to large fines and rents may be
     frozen. Additionally, if there is any danger to health or
     safety, the bureau may order preventive action. Although
     findings of harassment are rare, the proceeding may have the
     desired effect of stopping a landlord's unlawful actions.

     File RA-60H at DHCR, Enforcement Bureau, 156 William Street.
     New York. NY 10038. (RC,RS)


FILING AND FOLLOW-UP WITH THE DHCR
==================================

1.   File all documents in duplicate. Submit both an original and
     a duplicate.

2.   Keep a record of everything. Retain a copy of vital
     documents; do not send originals of leases, etc. DHCR will
     notify if originals are required.

3.   File by certified mail or by hand. Certified or registered
     mail is suggested. If filing by hand, a file copy should be
     date-stamped.

4.   Do not make oral agreements with the landlord or DHCR.

5.   Type or print the complaint.

6.   Don't overdo the complaint. Keep it simple. Don't engage in
     rhetoric or narratives. Rebuttal of the landlord's claims
     should be in the reply filed in response to his answer to
     your complaint. If the landlord does not file an answer, he
     will be in default.

7.   File a reply. The landlord's answer should not be ignored.

8.   Petition for Administrative Review (PAR), an administrative
     appeal must be filed within 35 days of the issue date of a
     DHCR order. (See fact sheet Petition for Administrative
     Review)

9.   File at Borough Rent Office or: DHCR-Office of Rent
     Administration, Gertz Plaza, 92-31 Union Hall Street,
     Jamaica, New York 11433.

                               ###

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These article are Copyright 1995 and 1996 by Community Training Resource
Center (CTRC) and reproduced by TenantNet. They may be freely
redistributed in their entirety provided they are reproduced exactly
as in the originals, including this copyright notice, the opening and
closing informational banners and any references to either CTRC
or TenantNet must be included.

These article are provided as is without any express or implied
warranty. While any information in these article is believed to be
correct at the time of writing, these articles are for educational
purposes only and do not purport to provide legal advice. If
you require legal advice, you should consult with a legal
practitioner licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

Community Training Resource Center                (212)964-7200
47 Ann Street
New York, NY 10038

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