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Where is Chelsea when we need her?

Posted by TenantNet on September 02, 2001 at 17:28:18:

In Reply to: Re: DHCR Rent Reductions (Failure to Maintain Service): How Long Are They In Effect For? posted by Cranky Tenant on September 02, 2001 at 17:09:53:

Let's clarify that. The tenant obtained an order from the DRA (District Rent Administrator) in 1987. At that time the owner had 35 days to file a PAR. That's long gone and the order should serve as final (A commissioner's order). THe next step is for the owner to restore the services and then file for a restoration -- at the DRA level.

As for taking it off, it's a bit cloudy since the introduction of the 4-year rule, but if the tenant paid the amount and the landlord billed for it and collected it, then it's obvious. We think there wa a recent Appellate Division case (do a search on Housing Court Decisions) that if there is a pre-existing valid rent reduction in effect, then the tenant can withhold the overpayment despite the 4-year rule. Someone want to look for that? It might be in the 2nd Dept. -- meaning Queens and Brooklyn, but I know there were other similar decisions in the 1st Dept. (Manh.) prior to the tightening of the 4-year rule. In any case, I don't think the tenant can go for treble damages.

Remember, it IS NOT just $44 off -- it is that the rent was reduced in 1987 and it was frozen AT THAT LEVEL. If rent controlled, it was reduced by a set dollar amount. If rent stabilized, it was reduced to the level in effect prior to the rent guidelines adjustment that occurred prior to the date of the rent reduction order. All rent control rent reduction orders issued prior to 1990 are considered a reduction of "essential services" meaning that the max. collectible rent was frozen at that level -- no yearly 7.5% increase. Also the fuel surcharge would have been frozen. (see DHCR policy statements for that).

As for the compliance procedure -- why do it? It really doesn't help tenants unless the issues are so egregious. If they are egregious, then you could have gotten a HPD violation -- and could be a rent impairing violation (look that up) meaning no rent was due after 6 months after the violation. The compliance request triggers a DHCR proceeding, which means the rent could be restored that much quicker. With today's market, keeping the rent low might be something more desireable if you can live with the deficiencies.

Aren't you glad Richard isn't still here -- he would have tried to sell you apt. insurance. :)

: The order is in effect until the LL files a PAR (Petition for Administrative Review) and either the tenant confirms, or an inspection determins, that the services have been restored. Then DHCR would issue an order to restore the rent, and the tenant should receive copies of these documents.

: As far as I know the LL still owes you any overpayments and would not have been entitled to collect any increases since the date the rent order was issued. And if you landlord failed to refund the overpayments you have every right to deduct them from the rent.... or live rent free until you recover your overpayments. There is also a "non compliance" complaint you can file if the LL fails to restore services after the rent order is issued.

: However the fact that you went 14 years without taking these deductions is a bit puzzling. I guess as long as you weren't going to act on the Rent Order the LL had no reason to appeal it. I think only DHCR or a lawyer could tell you if there's any time limitation for taking these deductions.

: : I obtained a DHCR rent reduction for my father's apartment (rent control) in 1987, in the amount of $44.00 per month for failure to maintain service:

: : 1) No painting in apartment in 14 years
: : 2) Defective windows
: : 3) Defective front door
: : 4) defective faucets
: : 5) Peeling paint and plaster

: : My father never took off the $44.00 a month in rent, out of fear from the landlord. The order was NEVER revoked and never cancelled, I obtained certified copies from DHCR.

: : Can we still withhold payment? Can we pre date to 1987 and withhold that amount from the rent (over $7,000)? No services were ever fixed.

: : Thank you.

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