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Questions about DHCR and landlord practices

Posted by Tami on August 21, 1997 at 13:43:31:

I have three separate issues I'm hoping someone can help clarify:

1. I moved into a rent-stabilized apartment on July 1, and shortly thereafter I sent the managing agent a list of repair/maintenance items, including painting. Despite her gratuitously nasty reply, they've taken care of the more egregious problems (e.g., window glass coming out of frames, etc.), but they refuse to paint on grounds that I accepted the apartment "as is." This is, I assume, a reference to the "Condition of the Apartment" clause in the standard lease, which I understand is meaningless since it basically conflicts with the requirement to provide repairs, services, etc. (Various people have told me my mistake was in not asking for this stuff before moving in, but folks should be aware that, in theory anyway, it's not supposed to matter.) Anyway, I sent another letter (regular mail, since the charming agent informed me, after receiving my first request, that she won't accept certified or registered mail), using some legalese. This time they just ignored it. So I've sent in my pathetic little complaint of decreased services to DHCR. My questions are:

- I gather that this is supposed to be a total waste of time, and even DCHR says it takes 12 months. Can someone explain what the process is supposed to be once you've filed your complaint, and what I can actually expect to happen?

- Aside from withholding rent or taking the landlord to housing court, are there any other avenues to pursue here, like through the city Department of Buildings?

- If DCHR is the only recourse and it's going to drag on forever, I may just decide to paint the place myself, but then can I ask for reimbursement when my case finally gets heard or whatever happens? Or do I have to just watch the paint peel for the next year or so?

- My super tells me the owners are trying to sell the building, which is why they don't want to put a dime into the place, but he also said they can't sell if there's a documented violation. Is there any truth in this? It seems so unlikely.

2. When my landlord calculated the rent increase before I moved in, she included 1/40 or the cost of a new kitchen sink. Based on the increase, she's claiming she spent $528 on this, which is impossible for me to believe given the quality of the sink and the workmanship, etc. I understand that there's some way to find out whether the landlord's claim is legitimate, but I think it involves actually challenging the legitimacy of the charge. Can someone fill me in on this?

3. My lease is effective July 1 of this year, and my landlord used the increase that was in effect before the big Pataki giveaway: 9% + 7%. Attached to the lease was a rider, dated June 24, which included something like the following (I don't have it in front of me, but here's the basic idea): if the Rent Guidelines Board hadn't set new increases by the date of execution of the lease, these would be incorporated into the rent; and if the Board set a later date for implementing the new increases, these would be applied at that later date. This doesn't make too much sense to me, and since, if I'm not mistaken, the 20% deal was set on June 19 and the Board met June 23, I think I'm safe. But if that 20% is retroactive to June 15, is it possible that my landlord could try to retroactively change the 16% to 29%?

Thanks in advance.

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