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How to combat DHCR

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

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How to combat DHCR

Postby Doctordien » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:33 pm

How to combat DHCR

Last September I applied to DHCR seeking to find out if my apartment is rent stabilized. For a number of reasons, all related to my landlord's harassment and aggression toward me I have been hurt and unable to work, so at this point I can't make my rent, which was the landlord's intention.
I have been trying to hold on by borrowing money from friends, etc, because I truly believe my apartment is rent stabilized.
About a month ago I contacted DHCR to find out how my case was going and was told that the investigation was complete and I should hear from them shortly. But I didn't.
Yesterday, a day before I was to go to court for the 3rd time on a holdover case in which the judge had agreed to allow me to stay in the apartment while awaiting DHCR's decision as long as I kept up my payments. I was 2 months behind. In desperation, I emailed every DHCR address I could find and was able to locate the attorney in charge of my case. Here's his response: Unfortunately, your overcharge complaint must be held in abeyance because the owner filed an application to exempt the building from rent regulation. Until that case is heard a determination cannot be made on your complaint. The holdover judge would not consider this as proof that my apartment is stabilized. (Landlord withdrew his motion for reasons I am not privy to, so I've still got the apartment for the moment.)
This could go on for a long time, and I in the meantime will lose my apartment. My question after this long post is, Is there a way to make DHCR acknowledge that until a decision is reached, for all intents and purposes, my apartment is currently rent stabilized? Is there something I can do myself? Is there a lawyer that will handle this if he sees he can win and reap the reward of 2 and half years of overcharge?
thanks for your consideration in this matter.
Doctordien
 
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Re: How to combat DHCR

Postby TenantNet » Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:17 am

It's actually two questions: a) was it RS initially? and b) if yes, was it deregulated legally, or not.

Your issue of non-payment is somewhat separate, but expect that the RS status would determine how much back rent was owed to the LL (or if there's an overcharge in your favor).

DHCR can take forever to make determinations. I've seen some cases go five years. I've also seen them make decisions in less than 30 days when it would benefit the LL (like a MCI).

When they say the LL has filed to exempt the building, they would have to have grounds (did they tell you the grounds?), and it should be prospective only, not retroactive. If that's the case, then there's no reason to hold your case in abeyance IMHO.

I would write to the DHCR Commissioner and ask them to expedite your case citing the current holdover matter (give them details).

If you haven't already done so, I would FOIL both cases and make copies of everything. Make sure to ask for the Progress Sheet and state in your FOIL application that you need to obtain the progress sheet in order to respond to the owner's statement he submitted to DHCR. However, understand that FOILing a matter might tie up the case file for the time you are examining it. Still, I think it would be more important to examine the file AND the progress sheet.

Also ask for a building print-out showing all cases in the building and that might help identify the building-wide case.

And if there is such a case, this could impact other tenant in your building who are or might be RS. I think it is time to put together a tenant association and talk to a lawyer. In anyone (i.e., you) has a very low income, you might qualify for Legal Aid or Legal Services. They can tell you how to apply for a "one-shot deal" that might help with your back rent.

NYC has a new program called Right to Counsel where tenants can get free attorneys if they qualify. They are phasing it in depending on your zip code. If you live in one of these areas, you might be able to take advantage of this. And even if you don't, I would still check with Legal Aid or Legal Services.

Right to Counsel Zip Codes:

Bronx 10457, 10467, 10468*
Brooklyn 11216, 11221, 11225*
Manhattan 10026, 10027, 10025*
Queens 11433, 11434, 11373*
Staten Island 10302, 10303, 10314*
*zip code covered but not fully operational
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