Attorney Failure No Excuse for Landlord's Default
LVT Number: #20727
Landlord claimed that her building was exempt from rent stabilization and asked the DHCR for a ruling on that question. On the DHCR's master application form, landlord checked a box indicating that the building was regulated by some other law. But on individual tenant forms, landlord checked a box indicating that her exemption claim was based on the building having fewer than six apartments. The DRA asked landlord to explain this inconsistency. Landlord's attorney responded that the master form was in error. Landlord maintained that the building had fewer than six apartments. The DRA then asked landlord in December 2006 to submit proof of her claim. In January 2007, landlord's attorney asked for more time to respond.
In May 2007, the DRA ruled against landlord based on her failure to submit any proof of her claim. Tenant requested reconsideration. The DRA ruled for landlord and reopened the case. In January 2008, the DRA again asked landlord to submit proof. In March 2008, the DRA ruled against landlord, again because no proof was submitted. Landlord appealed, claiming that her attorney was supposed to answer and that she didn't know he had failed to do so. The DHCR ruled against landlord. The DRA had given landlord sufficient time to submit proof of her exemption claim. Law office failure was an inadequate excuse.
Malik: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. WE220024RO (7/3/08) [2-pg. doc.]