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NYC housing court online forms?

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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NYC housing court online forms?

Postby AdvocateUUWS » Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:47 pm

Hi! I have to sue my landlord for decreased services. Is there an online or printable form or do I have to go down to Center Street?

Alternatively, I can withhold rent and force them to sue me. If that's a better way to go about it, I would send them notice and open an escrow account.

THE DETAILS:
It's a Rent Stabilized building -- services were indeed decreased, this has actually been established already due to gas line issues; management and I are bickering about the amount of money owed as a result. They promised an amount due to decreased services and have since reneged.

There have been numerous issues since (including no after-hours response from management for emergencies, broken elevator, fewer washers/dryers, etc.)

As such, just trying to decide if I should sue or withhold rent per the above. And if suing them, where/how I do this. THANKS!
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Re: NYC housing court online forms?

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jun 11, 2021 3:52 pm

For decreased services, you can go to court or to DHCR (if RS). Going to court can be either a defense in a non-pay proceeding (seeking an abatement), starting a HP Action in Housing Court for bad conditions, or you can go to Supreme Court seeking an order. You have options.

We generally advise against going to DHCR.

Understand that services (or Required Services in RS lingo) are not always the same as bad conditions. There is overlap, but services can include much more than basic habitability conditions (which usually involve maintenance or repairs). RS required services can also include things like access to a recreational pool, basement storage, etc. Those include services or items included in the lease, or which you can prove were being provided on or after the base date (usually 1974) and are not now being provided.

So decide the nature of the service or condition and decide on a strategy, which court and what type of proceeding. What to do depends on what course of action you decide.

You say it's about gas lines. Can you elaborate? Make ups a list of all items you want addressed. Is it just you, or tenants in an association?

LLs will often say the service never existed or come up with any number of excuses. So I would spend time documenting the service. Obviously they can't deny that gas service ever existed. In my building the LL claimed the security guard and several other services never existed. We got proof.

If a complicated situation, you might wish to consult with a tenant attorney.
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Re: NYC housing court online forms?

Postby AdvocateUUWS » Fri Jun 18, 2021 4:59 am

Thank you for the reply!

Building was ordered to replace gas lines (which will happen to all buildings in NYC that are, if I recall, more than 60 years old or so), as such, gas was shut off for 1.5 years (it's back).

Management promised $13/day rent abatement, then reneged on that amount and decided to make it $3/day.

Also, ongoing elevator out-of-service problems, out-of-service washer/dryers, lack of heat in winter, plus I've had to essentially act as super, helping deal w/emergency situations and the like.

No tenant association. Not an option in this building -- tenants just don't care to be engaged (I and others have tried for several years).

SO, I just want to know where/how I file for decreased services -- how do I get the paperwork? And thank you for taking the time and asking detailed questions.
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Re: NYC housing court online forms?

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jun 18, 2021 8:16 am

Where did you see that all buildings more than 60 years old must replace gas lines? I haven't seen that.

Generally, problems with gas leaks are overseen by DOB, not HPD. Con Ed gets into the issue as well. But this stuff happens when there's a real gas leak, not when someone wakes up and says the gas pipes are 60 years old.

In response to a leak, the owner must obtain permits from DOB and make the required repairs. Then they must get them inspected by DOB (or the company that made the repairs) and later by ConEd. ConEd is a separate company, but will not turn on the spigot until tests show they are safe. They would conduct either a pressure test or what's known as a peppermint test.

My building went through all this so I have some first-hand knowledge, but each situation might result in different procedures. Be absolutely sure that whatever has been done, was dome so with proper DOB permits obtained and posted. Gas can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly and too many landlords are sloppy or want to cut corners.

Keep ongoing of diaries and photos of everything that happens and when work is done in various apartments (work with tenants on that) as the LL might come back and try to file for a MCI rent increase for the cost of the work.

And keep records on things that do not work because of this. I can't tell you what a normal abatement is, but it would help to find out. If the LL promised $13/day in writing, I'd try to hold him to it, or at least negotiate. I'd also consider getting a tenant attorney for all tenants.

If a service has been restored, then a court "HP Action" is not the way to go. Neither is filing with DHCR. Both are designed to get the LL to make repairs. (however, in 30 years I might have seen one or two instances where DHCR might reward rent reductions after the fact - look into it). Even if they can, DHCR is so landlord-friendly they are not recommended.

I would consult with a tenant attorney to see if they concur with what I'm saying here.

You can file in court - probably Civil or Supreme Ct - for damages. But IMHO you would really need a lawyer for that. You might be able to withhold rent and be sued in Housing Court, and the claimed abatement can be a defense to the non-payment.

To get that started, just don't pay the rent, but understand at this point in time everything is a mess because of COVID.

AFAIK, there is no form you can just fill out and file.
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