DHCR Opinion Letters

Anyone may request an Opinion Letter from DHCR. When the agency does respond, the letters are not always responsive or substantive. According to DHCR, Opinion Letters are designed to provide guidance regarding hypothetical issues or situations that are not being litigated at the time. Intensely fact-specific contexts are better resolvable through adjudicatory proceedings, whether in the courts or before DHCR (COL-2097).

DHCR Opinion Letters are not binding on any party, the agency or the courts. While they may be used to provide cover, the courts have at times ignored the agency's views. DHCR Opinion Letters are frequently introduced into cases by both landlords and tenants and in court and DHCR proceedings, and are often cited as the basis for a ruling.

This collection of DHCR Opinion Letters comes pursuant to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for calendar years 2008 and 2009. For the most part, this collection does not contain letters prior to 2008. These files are redacted, meaning the name and personal information of the person requesting the opinion letter have been obscured by DHCR from the public copy. In many cases, DHCR did not provide attachments referenced in the letters.

As of September 29, 2009, DHCR has issued at least 2,565 letters since it took over rent regulation in 1984. Of the letters provided, it appears that DHCR has omitted many letters from this collection; there are many mysterious unexplained gaps in the sequence. In other collections, DHCR has been known to withhold documents that could be helpful to tenants. DHCR has refused to release the index of its Opinion letters, falsely claiming it does not exist (we know that is not the case).

Opinion Letters are sequentially numbered as "COLxxxx" where xxxx is the sequence number of any given letter. To that, TenantNet has added the publication date for each letter with the format YYMMDD. The complete file will be similar to "DHCR_Opinion_Letter_COLxxxx-YYMMDD.pdf". All files are adobe Acrobat (.pdf). A few letters did not contain a DHCR-assigned sequence number. In such cases we've left the designation as "xxxx".


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