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Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

NYC Housing Court Practice/Procedures

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Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby slimmccoy » Mon Feb 05, 2024 4:05 pm

Has anyone had success speeding up DHCR proceedings? I filed an RA-89 almost three years ago and it's still in "initial processing"
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Feb 05, 2024 4:46 pm

Over the years, DHCR proceedings have been intentionally slowed by DHCR itself and various governors, often by reduced staffing or funding.

You also should consider if you want a proceeding sped up. There are time when having a case just sit there may be a good thing.

So in general no, but I've seen both landlords and tenants (and even elected officials) write the agency asking for attention to the case. If it does any good, I haven't seen it.

But .... early on (around 1984 or so), DHCR issued and opinion that said while they are supposed to decide cases within 90 days, that just wasn't possible to do. So they said that even if they wait forever, parties would still be able to appeal any decision when it came. I think they meant PAR decisions. They basically waived their right to object. All this is from memory; I haven't gone back and looked at the old opinions.

Another thing that's possible is for a party to file an Article 78 proceeding in Supreme Court on the basis of mandamus, i.e., to force the agency to make a decision, any decision. In my experience, the agency usually relents and agrees to make a decision, usually in 90 days. That would officially move the case up the ladder. You don't have to have an attorney for an A78 Mandamus; but it gets done quicker if you do have one (but with expense to you).

BTW, don't feel bad, three years is common for DHCR. I've seen cases drag on for much longer.
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby slimmccoy » Mon Feb 05, 2024 10:16 pm

Thanks for your quick response!

I'll look into the Article 78 proceeding. The reason I want the DHCR case to speed up is because I'm also in arrears, which I'll soon be made to pay back. That is, unless DHCR rules in the meantime.

Do I have any alternatives other than Article 78?
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Feb 05, 2024 10:27 pm

If the LL takes you to court on the arrears (i.e., a non-payment), one defense you can assert is that there's an active DHCR proceeding on this exact issue and the court case should be stayed pending a decision from DHCR. If you think you're paying an illegal rent, that should be part of the answer you would file in court (in addition to repairs and other defenses or counterclaims).

A Mandamus is like any other case, and if you get a lawyer, that will cost you legal fees and court filing fees. Consider if that's your best course given your situation.

You can always just write DHCR a letter, but no one knows if that will speed things up or not.
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby slimmccoy » Tue Feb 06, 2024 1:46 pm

Would staying the housing court decision until DHCR rules lead to a choice of forum issue that negates the other defenses or counterclaims to nonpayment? If so, are there any ways to avoid/appeal/defend that?
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby slimmccoy » Tue Feb 20, 2024 10:59 am

I apologize if this is a silly question, but to whom would you write a letter at DHCR? Would it just be sent to the below and addressed to whomever it may concern?

Gertz Plaza Building, 92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, NY 11443

Thank you
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby TenantNet » Tue Feb 20, 2024 5:02 pm

Yes, silly question. I would send it to the Deputy Commissioner, Office of Rent Administration
And just Gertz Plaza (don't say Building)
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby slimmccoy » Mon Mar 18, 2024 11:16 am

In case it helps others, I did have success sending sending a letter along with court paperwork to the DHCR, and the case status has updated to Actively Being Processed.

Does anyone have experience with how long it takes to progress from this stage to Final Review, and from that to Order Issued?

Thank you!
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby slimmccoy » Mon May 20, 2024 11:54 am

Anyone have information on how long a case usually stays in Active Processing? Has been in that phase for a few months now
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby TenantNet » Wed May 22, 2024 3:10 am

There is no predictability. In many cases, the initial processing can take a very long time (over a year), but I've also seen that move along quickly.

Active processing usually means it's on someone's desk, but if the need more information from either party, they will send out notices. If the parties respond, DHCR often ignore that and just decide a case on a whim, forcing one or more parties to file PARs. That is why it's so important to have documentation.

I saw a case last week where the tenant filed a response to a Request for More information, and returned it by Certified Mail RRR. DHCR did get it and the tenant has a green cared proving receipt.

But DHCR issued a decision claiming they never got it, so the tenant has to file a PAR. I've heard that regular mail is quicker (but has no proof of mailing or proof of receipt). Priority Mail may be quicker, but is more expensive. If you want you can hand deliver it to Gertz Plaza and get a copy time-stamped as received, but that takes a few hours out of your day.

If a case is in active processing, you should act quickly if you have anything more to submit.
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby slimmccoy » Thu May 30, 2024 1:01 pm

I've gotten the first request for more info, and then a second one which had me resend some documents that they said they didn't get in the initial overcharge complaint (but I did include).

I've sent back both a few days after I got them, and I assume they sent the LL requests for info at a similar time. This was at least a few weeks ago now. The LL probably is doing everything to slow it down, whatever that may include.

I'm optimistic DHCR could make a decision within the next 6 months? Though I imagine the LL would file a PAR and whatever other methods they might have to avoid/stall paying any overcharge found. How long are they usually able to kick the can for so to speak after the DHCR rules?
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby TenantNet » Thu May 30, 2024 2:55 pm

Stay on top of this. Did you send your reply by certified mail return receipt requested? Always do that with DHCR. Watch the progress by tracking online and complain to the the USPS if it gets lost or slows down. Of course keep copies of everything sent or received, including envelopes which have mailing dates. I can't stress this enough.

I would also FOIL anything the LL sent to the agency.

Do not assume anything.

We're getting reports that DHCR is making decisions before a tenant's time to reply has expired (usually 21 days). They claim the tenant never replied (even though there is proof from certified documents that they had the reply).

Let us know if anything fishy happens.
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby slimmccoy » Wed Jun 12, 2024 11:09 am

I did not send via certified mail, but I was able to reach DHCR today and they confirmed they received the evidence we sent in. They also confirmed an extension was granted to the LL to send in their evidence, likely no more than 30 days, which should be up by now, unless it was 30 days on top of the time they were already given.

The rep assumed they have sent in their evidence by now, but that the system has not been updated yet to reflect that.

The rep also said it looked like the case was in the "final stages of processing" - not sure exactly what that means, but they estimated only a "couple more months" (<5?) before the DHCR issues a decision. Does this sound accurate?

After the decision, how much headache am I in for with the LL likely challenging it via PAR and whatever other stalling tactics they have at their disposal?
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Re: Possible to speed up DHCR proceeding?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Jun 12, 2024 11:36 am

Who at DHCR said that? AFAIK the people answering the phones don't have that information available, other than the status of a case. Normally you have to FOIL the mail room logs to find out if it was received.

You got lucky, very lucky. I strongly advise not to rely on regular mail as you can't track it. As for certified mail, for years it was the way to go. But now, that's no longer the case. On a different case I spoke with the supervisor of the Jamaica Station of the USPS and she tells us that certified these days is often lost and it can take ten days to go just across town. That's what happened to me. In the meantime DHCR made a decision (an incorrect one). They actually had the letter in their possession, yet claimed they had received no response. So now I have to bother with filing a PAR.

She suggested one use Priority Mail. It cost a little more ($10 v. $8), but it's guaranteed arrival within 3 business days and you can track it. Always take screenshots of a letter's progress on the USPS web tracking. So I mailed the Priority Mail on a Monday and DHCR got it on Wednesday, and I have proof by tracking.

Final stage means soon.
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