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LL DENIES RS

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

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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Jezebel » Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:25 pm

Would a judge ask us to bring in the latest updates from DHCR, which he could access himself online, just to tell both parties in person that he is deferring the case? Couldn't he have just said that via written court order?


Be prepared with certified copies of the latest from DHCR -- don't expect the judge to go searching for anything -- it's your job to bring to the Court's attention anything that you think supports your case.
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:09 pm

I'm sorry, I'm not clear on what it means that the DHCR documents must be certified. DHCR sent us emails directing us to their website to find out the status of our case and we printed those webpage results out. We also have an update letter from a DHCR lawyer. How do we get something certified from DHCR?
The case is very important to us, so I want to make sure I'm doing things the right way, thanks!
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby TenantNet » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:21 pm

You need to obtain - usually through FOIL or in the course of a DHCR proceeding, a document issued by DHCR, or a document in a file submitted by eitheer the LL or T.

For court you sometimes (not always) need to have documents certified if they come from an agency. That means someone from DHCR will compare what they give you with the original and "certify" they are identical. There's a rubber stamp where they sign their name on a blank part of each page.

Print-outs of web pages are usually not certified, but many of those pages have a date showing the date it appeared on your screen. Make sure that date is on your print-out.
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:39 pm

Not sure where my last answer went, but I'll type this again.
Thank you, I haven't many personal days left, but I'm planning on going to DHCR in person tomorrow. It will be well worth it if they can send us home with a certified update to the AD proceeding.
I would have preferred filling out a FOIL supeona for info and waiting for that info back via email or postal mail , but there isn't enough time to do that. We only found out about the hearing on 11/16 a week ago.
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Fri Nov 13, 2015 5:40 pm

Unfortunately, DHCR could not give us certified documents the same day we came to DHCR. We filled out a FOIL request and the entire DHCR case file will arrive in 30 days. I don't know if they will contain the stamp that the owner's DHCR documents had. The rep at DHCR said that they would arrive faster if we unchecked the box that said "must be certified for court appearance".

The FOIL request can't possibly arrive on time for the hearing this Monday, anyway. We have printed out the online update which states that the DHCR determination is in its final stage of review and can only hope for the best.

Wish us luck.
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Fri Nov 13, 2015 5:45 pm

What the judge's letter said in a nutshell was this:

"Aside from the Certificate of Occupancy, both sides provided extensive DHCR documents to support the positions. Surprisingly, these documents were often contradictory. The submissions of the parties were also not in admissible form. The heart of the matter is whether or not the building contains six units and is subject to the RSL. This matter will be put down for a hearing soley upon whether or not the building contains six units and is subject to rent stabilization. All parties are to bring whatever evidence they have in proper admissible form and any documents relating to relevant DHCR updates".
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:07 pm

It took all of three minutes...

The opposing counsel helped us in that the first thing the owner's lawyer uttered was that DHCR had not made a decision yet. With that, the judge made no use of the huge binder he was holding and just said we would wait for the decision of DHCR. No evidence, no exhibits, no arguments necessary.

The judge seems to be very reasonable as he isn't pushing to argue a case when both sides seem to be willing to wait for DHCR. The judge said he will do his part to expedite the AD Proceeding and we will adjourn until early December...He has expressed there is no guarantee a DHCR order will be issued by that date.

In essence, this has given us what we want without a battle-just to have the case deferred to the agency.

The only thing slightly jarring is the owner's inexplicable lack of defiance. He has ,to this point, fought us tooth and nail on every single issue..

Disturbing and confusing as that might be, it means peace for us, at least for now. Maybe the tenant (and all of us!) can sleep more peacefully knowing the majority of the fight can take place quietly on paper...

It's up to DHCR now...
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Sun Jan 03, 2016 4:24 pm

The first informal inspection per their records said they found 5 units and thst there is an area with a separate entrance to the right of the building. The inspector also took pics of the mailboxes which were labeled "basement" and with the other 5 apartments.
We are now waiting on the results of a second inspection to verify the existence of an "alleged basement apartment" per the exact words of DHCR. The report on the first inspection said the inspector did not say that there was an apartment in thd basement.
This makes no sense for a number of reasons:
1. The tenants provided documentation from the landlord himself in which he stated that the first floor apartment had been divided into 2 apartments (the inspector said he found one apartment on the first floor and another "area" which was not part of that first apartment.) We are sure he must not have gained admittance to the locked gate to actually see where the apartment is, because they said the inspection was "without anyone's knowledge".

2. The tenants had also taken a picture of the mailboxes which were labeled with 6 apartment numbers before the landlord crossed over one of those numbers and wrote "basement" over it...

It seems as if DHCR is only going with the info the landlord provided and completely ignoring our evidence which includes sworn affidavits from court cases in which he says the ground floor apartment was divided into 2 apartments.
Why else would they be looking for an alleged basement apt based on the mailboxes? It feels as if we have provided substantial written evidence and they're not even considering it ...

Perhaps there's a method to DHCR's madness that have failed to see. I'm hoping just because their waiting for a second inspection that it doesn't necessarily mean they're about to base their entire decision on it. Afterall, these inspections are taking place years after our base date and we don't know what kind of alterations the owner has made on anticipation of the next inspection.
In our view, if he's already admitted in writing that one apartment was divided into two after providing the original cert of occupancy which says the building was 5 units when it was built, we can only come to the logical conclusion that it is six.
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:27 pm

I'm curious as to what happens when DHCR is supeoned to ccourt. They haven't made a decision on whether our building is stabilized or not and the LL's lawyer is supposed to supeona DHCR.

Will someone from DHCR come in person? Does this mean there will be a trial the day they come to court? The judge only said the lawyer should supeona DHCR and that we'll come back in a month.

I don't know what to expect when we return to court so if someone has experience any advice would be great.

Thanks.
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:57 pm

P.S. The document we received a copy of from the LL's lawyer is called "Notice of Motion for Joinder".
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Sat Apr 02, 2016 7:52 pm

If the status of a DHCR Administrative Determination comes up "Granted" is that a good thing?

We cannot receive mail for a few weeks due to postal issues at the building, but online it looks as though DHCR has decided on whether we're rent stabilized or not...After almost 3 years the status suddenly changed.

All it says next to status is "granted".
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby TenantNet » Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:48 am

It depends on who asked for the determination. I would call DHCR and ask for a copy to be faxed (if you have that capability) or to be emailed. They CAN do that.

Better, make a FOIL request for the decision of the docket and explain that you are in court and time is of the essence.

Go to http://www.nyshcr.org/AboutUs/DHCRfoil.htm

You can FOIL by email. They should respond by email. Ask for the decision by email in PDF form.
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:33 pm

Before the last appearance, we enlisted the aid of the urban justice league. The lawyer we met was awesome (I don’t use that word lightly) and she was very concerned once we told her the details of our case. It took all of 3 days for them to take the case, but they haven't had to show up to court, because we were just waiting for the administrative determination from DHCR.

I had grown tired of scrambling to learn as I go along, and after almost 4 years fighting, I was burnt out and felt we needed back up should we need to appeal. The UJL lawyer told us to let her know as soon as we received ANY paperwork, and called me the very next day after we met to give unbelievable advice and her contact number. They came to our aid FAST and it is comforting knowing they are waiting in the wings to assist should something not go our way. You get the feeling that they are thinking of your case every day, ready to react, that they care as much as you do. Really good experience with this agency and it’s worth mentioning them.

As for our last court appearance, an agent from the DHCR did appear in court. The agent said she would report to the rent administrator about expediting things for the case, but that there was no update as far as she knew. That was the end of the appearance. The DHCR agent also commented that the owner need NOT supeona them again (in case the owner was thinking of it)! There is a process that must be upheld, she explained, and they assured us every one would know in writing once a determination was made. I don’t think it was smart of the opposition to try and rush them that way. Another court appearance was scheduled in 6 weeks. I checked for the determination status every day online at the DHCR website...

We received our mail, and I am happy to announce that DHCR has declared us rent stabilized.

The owner has been ordered to provide proper renewal leases. Rents are frozen retoractively at a reduced rate, as there are maintenance issues, not to mention our rents must be re-evaluated to see if they’re even legal.

I started out with a blank screen and no knowledge of the legal system we were so harshly thrust into. All along the way, I knew that if we won our fight, it would not only protect us, but the entire building and future tenants. I never wanted a fight. I just wanted to be allowed to b the quiet tenant I was, and pay my rent as I always had. I wasn’t opposed to reasonable and legal rent increases. In the beginning, I’d made a good natured phone call in an effort to get to know the owner and virtually begged him to allow my family and I to live in peace. He responded by suing me for thousands I didn’t owe and keeping me in court for 3 years. There was harassment from process servers at 10pm at night and sexist comments from the owner’s lawyers about letting men take care of important business, as if my efforts were feeble and humorous , because I am a woman...He had refused to put the wife of another tenant on the lease. Those tenants had vacated after what seemed to be stress about money under the table..Funny, how such a stressful and negative situation could turn into such a positive one. I no longer regret being forced to learn about my rights.

We must have made about 40 court appearances, sans lawyer (pro se). I started studying law on Google when this started, and learned from lawyers, judges, DHCR and any angel I’d spoken to along the way. Maybe we can expect an appeal from the opposition. I am happy to tell everyone who has stayed and fought (and everyone who has been following this thread) that we have finally received our right to protection under the rent stabilization law.

I hope our story will help others have more faith in things going right even when the odds seem stacked against you. If you have the faith to hang in there, the law is there to protect you .

In New York, the courts have lines of people facing eviction going around the block every, single day. The system might be tired of seeing so many families being forced out, but you can only be helped if you assert your rights. I received admiration at many levels from administrators who were NOT used to seeing a tenant fight back and do things like file a motion, especially without a lawyer. That’ll get you looks!

Even if you don’t win in the long run, asserting your rights can allow a judge to put a case on hold or even dismiss it. The owner had THREE lawyers trying to intimidate me terribly so that I would sign something *before* we saw the judge. The judge and court attorney are two very different people, mind you. Fear is your worst enemy. If you give up and leave, or sign a stipulation forfeiting your rights out of intimidation, you are not giving a judge the chance to help you. If you have a good case, and bring it to a government agency, the agency will start a lengthy process that will bring a case against you to a screeching halt once the court knows you filed. The other side will face a lot more adversity if you bring their dishonesty to light, even if at first it doesn’t seem that way.

When the need arose, God turned a lamen into a lawyer and doors opened for us as necessary during one tight pinch after another. I started with a blank screen and had NO idea how to tell our story-all the ways in which we were being antagonized and taken advantage of...I also started with NO legal experience. Once I put the effort out to start writing, the words just came naturally. Before I knew it, the words became a polished example of legal opposition. If I hadn’t tried, we’d all still have just a blank page and no homes. It has been an amazing (and stressful) experience, and I am a better person for having served as the head of this tenant's association.

Never give up! :wink:
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby Cazmia » Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:43 pm

P.S. Thank you, Tenant Net! You were there when I was sitting in front of that blank page and your advice showed me where to go. We appreciate it more than you could ever know.

Thank you...so very much.
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Re: LL DENIES RS

Postby TenantNet » Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:01 am

Glad to hear things have worked out - so far. Can you send us a copy of the DHCR decision? If you can scan it in (200 dpi greyscale into a PDF file), you can attach it to a Private Mail (PM) post here. Do not put it on a public post. Or you can email it to tenant -at- tenant.net.
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