Rent Reductions Due to Decreased Services
Tenants in rent-regulated apartments may file complaints if they believe that any of the services provided are inadequate or that the Landlord has stopped providing a particular service that he/she used to provide. This is one of the most difficult proceedings for a Landlord, as such a complaint could result in a Rent Reduction for each tenant that participates in the filing of the complaint.
A Building-Wide Service complaint may relate to lack of elevator service, unsanitary halls, faulty security systems, etc. A Reduction of Services could be filed if the Landlord takes away a service he/she used to provide, for example, locking an area that tenants were previously allowed to use for storage, or replacing the doorman with a video intercom. The doorman issue is a hotly debated one and there are several cases pending on this matter. Landlords claim that the video intercom is more reliable and less costly, while tenants complain that a video intercom cannot sign for packages for them.
The complaint process is complicated and time consuming, as follows:
Statewide, if a tenant lives in a Rent Stabilized apartment and receives a rent reduction for an individual apartment or a Building-Wide Service Decrease, the order becomes effective the first day of the month following the date when the Landlord was served with the tenant's complaint. The Rent Reduction consists of a percentage equal to the most recent Guideline Increase. If more than one tenant applied, the Rent Reduction affects each tenant who signed the Building-Wide Service complaint application requesting the rent reduction.
If a tenant lives in a Rent Controlled apartment, the Rent Reduction based on either an individual apartment or Building-Wide Service Decrease becomes effective the first day of the month following DHCR's issuance of the order. If more than one tenant signs a Building-Wide Service complaint application, the Rent Reduction affects all tenants who signed. Rent Controlled tenants who did not sign may still receive the reduction if building-wide hazardous conditions are found.
If a tenant receives a Rent Reduction from DHCR and also receives another abatement or a rent credit because of the same conditions, the tenant cannot get both benefits at the same time.
The Landlord may be ordered to restore full services even if a Rent Reduction has not been granted. A Landlord's failure to comply with a DHCR Order Requiring Restoration of Services can result in even greater penalties, such as fines.
To have the Rent Restored to its original amount, a Landlord must file an Owner's Application to Restore Rent. In the application, the Landlord must show proof, such as contractor's invoices, cancelled checks, photos, or a signed statement from the tenant that the repair has been done or service has been restored. The tenant, of course, will be given an opportunity to respond. An order will be issued granting or denying the application.
The entire Rent Reduction through Restoration of Rent process can take several years, even though most Landlords make the necessary repairs or restore the required services in a timely manner. It can be especially difficult to get a Restoration of Rent in a janitorial type of complaint and tenants have been known to purposely throw garbage in public areas in order to keep the rent from being restored. (Note: DHCR informs tenants of inspections, but will not tell the Landlord when they are coming.)
DHCRexpert.com prepares Answers to Tenant Complaints and Owner's Application to Restore Rent.
Click here to Order Answers to Tenant Complaints Click here to Order Owner's Application to Restore Rent