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Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

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

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Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby CaseLawSays » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:43 am

I live in a rent stabilized apartment. One and a half years ago I got a rent reduction order from DHCR which states:

DETERMINATION: The legal regulated rent is reduced to the level in effect prior to the most recent guidelines increase for the tenant's lease which commenced before the effective date of this order.

EFFECTIVE DATE: 8/01/2015

My previous leases were 8/01/2011 - 7/31/2013
8/01/2013 - 7/31/2015

As I understood the wording above, this would mean that my rent has to be what it was on 8/01/2011, yet the landlord says it should be what it was on 8/01/2013.

I think I'm right as if you were to read the determination starting with the word BEFORE, it becomes clear that we have to first look at the lease that commenced on 8/01/2013, as that is the lease that commenced before the effective date of the order.

BUT, we now have to pay attention to the wording starting with the word PRIOR, and immediately realize that we have to go to the lease that commenced on 8/01/2011.

So who is right? I'm certain i am. But would like a consensus on this. Spoke with 3 attorneys, and all initially said that it should be what it was on 8/01/2013, but upon me slowly explaining it to them realized that it should be 8/01/2011.

What will the judge decide if we go to trial on this issue?
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby TenantNet » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:18 am

Please see the private mail we're sending to you.
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby lawful tenant » Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:59 pm

I have the same situation with same wording but just different dates. Spoke to LL and he says that his lawyers disagree with my assessment. Is there any case law on this that I can show them?

Thanks
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby TenantNet » Tue Mar 27, 2018 3:04 pm

Of course they will disagree. They're landlords and you're eating into their profits.

And you don't show them case law. That is what DHCR is for. Seems you've already won the first round. Losers can then file a Petition for Administrative Review (PAR) which is an in-house appeal. Make sure you pay very close attention to this and what they say, and counter every argument they make. Do not allow them to add new arguments or evidence if it was not submitted in the first round.

After the PAR, they can file a court appear (Article 78) in NYS Supreme Court.
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby lawful tenant » Tue Mar 27, 2018 3:16 pm

They lost the PAR, but filed a new RESTORE RENT application with DHCR and won it. The rent is being restored as of April 1st.

The thing is I owe them for months past, but not the amount they are claiming as it doesn't take into consideration the fact that the rent was rolled back for a year + until it was restored.

DETERMINATION: The legal regulated rent is reduced to the level in effect prior to the most recent guidelines increase for the tenant's lease which commenced before the effective date of this order.

EFFECTIVE DATE IN MY RENT REDUCTION ORDER IS: 11/01/2015

My previous leases were 11/01/2011 - 10/30/2013
11/01/2013 - 10/30/2015

This would mean that my rent has to be what it was on 11/01/2011, yet the landlord says it should be what it was on 11/01/2013.

Is there anything from DHCR on this topic or any case law whatsoever?
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby TenantNet » Tue Mar 27, 2018 4:03 pm

You didn't tell us everything (don't do that as it wastes our time).

When DHCR orders a rent reduction/freeze, it is retroactive to the 1st of the month after they serve the LL with the complaint. When they issue the decision, the LL might owe rent to the tenant (above the amount it was reduced to).

A restoration works the same way. It is effective back to when they submitted the restoration application and sent the owner's application to the tenants. So if it took them three years to make the decision, that might mean it's retroactive around 35-36 months or so. It will say so on the decision itself.

If you feel the restoration decision is incorrect on the merits - if they did not restore the service in question, you can appeal that. But be careful if you lose, the retroactive amount can grow. Keep the difference in escrow.

I don't know how the reductions have been calculated for the last few years as the RGB increases have been at 0%. But let's assume that's not an issue.

Make sure your math is correct, and pay that amount. Send the LL a certified letter RRR explaining your calculations. Don't expect them to understand. You do that so down the road you can explain to a judge how you tried to be reasonable.

The LL - if they are litigious - will take you to court and the court can figure it out. Are we talking about a small amount or thousands of dollars?

However, having said all that, from above it seems the rent would have been reduced to the level of rent in effect during the lease term 11/1/13 - 10/31/15. Why do you think it goes back to 2011?

I'm basing that on what you've said above, and not having seen any of the papers in the case.

There is one exception of which I am aware, if the effective date of the rent reduction order is the SAME date as the beginning of a renewal lease. If that's the case, then it's possible the reduced rent should go down twice, to the 2011-2013 period.

See the attached DHCR opinion letter - this might help.
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby lawful tenant » Tue Mar 27, 2018 4:23 pm

"You didn't tell us everything (don't do that as it wastes our time)."

My first post on this thread specifically stated that I have the same exact situation, referring to the opening post on this thread. Being that you didn't ask any questions to the opening poster, I thought everything is self explanatory.

I would never waste your time.

"However, having said all that, from above it seems the rent would have been reduced to the level of rent in effect during the lease term 11/1/13 - 10/31/15. Why do you think it goes back to 2011?"

Because the rent reduction order states:

DETERMINATION: The legal regulated rent is reduced to the level in effect prior to the most recent guidelines increase for the tenant's lease which commenced before the effective date of this order.

Please pay close attention to the words "prior" and "before" in the above sentence.

Also, having read the Geller pdf, it seems to concur with my understanding.

Also, my neighbor, to whom said Rent Reduction applies also stated that there is a DHCR opinion letter or something to this effect, which also confirms my understanding and calculation. Do you know what opinion letter he might be referring to?

Thanks
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby lawful tenant » Tue Mar 27, 2018 4:33 pm

Also, in the Geller pdf you supplied, it refers to the letter asking the questions that are being answered in the pdf, and states that it is copied below, but it doesn't appear in the file you linked. Can you please provide this letter? or a way of getting it?

It might provide some additional clarity seeing the letter asking questions that led to the answers contained in the Geller pdf you linked.

Thank you.
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby TenantNet » Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:12 pm

The Geller letter should be all you need. The part that was copied from the original letter appears at the bottom of page 1 of the Geller letter.
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby lawful tenant » Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:47 pm

In the absence of the exact questions to which this letter is providing answers it's somewhat difficult to ascertain if the situation outlined matches mine. It appears to do so. Yet you didn't seem to agree above. Is there anyway I can get said letter at all? I have to be in court on Thursday.
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby TenantNet » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:35 pm

Geller restates the question in his letter, so you do not need it.

One thing to be aware of, the top of the Geller letter, the name and address to whom the letter was sent, is redacted.

Also, this is not an official certified copy. You would have to get that from DHCR (good luck with that) with a certified stamp. The LL attorney might make a fuss over that, but I would not bring it up. It's really up to the judge.
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Re: Rent Reduction Order Wording Question?

Postby lawful tenant » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:33 pm

I really don't understand, why is it so difficult for you to provide said letter if you do indeed have it. It will take time to get this from DHCR. I came here only because I thought I can get it here in time before the day I have to be in court.

Do you pick and choose who you provide it to?

Yes, the Geller pdf restates the question, but I would think the actual letter asking this question is a little more detailed. And that's what I really wanted to see. How they came to ask that question, the background, surrounding issues, etc.

Thanks
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