DHCR Properly Allowed Tenants to Correct Authorization Defect
LVT Number: 17745
Facts: Tenants complained to the DHCR of a reduction in building-wide services. The DRA ruled for tenants and reduced their rents, but found that a cutback in basement access was minor. Tenants appealed. One tenant representative filed the PAR, attaching signatures of six tenant committee members and copies of signatures of 51 tenant association members. The DHCR sent the case back to the DRA, with notice to all tenants on the submitted list. Thirty-three tenants responded. The DRA then held a hearing and ruled for tenants. All 51 tenants received rent reductions. Landlord then appealed, claiming that only the six tenants who actually signed the PAR were entitled to rent reductions. The DHCR ruled for landlord, and tenants then appealed. The DHCR took the case back and gave tenants the chance to submit written statements that they authorized the tenant representative to file the PAR for them. The DHCR issued a new order granting the rent reduction to 35 tenants who responded to the request for statements. The DHCR stated that it should have allowed tenants to correct the technical defect in their PAR. Landlord then appealed. The lower court and an appeals court ruled against landlord. Landlord then appealed to New York's highest court. Court: Landlord loses. The Rent Stabilization Code gives the DHCR authority to permit correction of technical defects in PARs that are filed on time. Once a PAR is filed on time, the DHCR can accept additional late papers for good cause shown. The DHCR's regulations and instructions don't require a signed authorization from each member of a tenant association. They direct the representative to provide authorization from the organization as well as a list of members and a statement that the representative is filing on behalf of all members. Here, a clear statement was lacking, but the DHCR viewed tenants' filing as a good faith effort to comply with the regulations.
427 W. 51st St. Owners Corp. v. DHCR: NYLJ, 11/19/04, p. 19, col. 5 (Ct. App.; Read, J, Kay, CJ, Smith, Ciparick, Rosenblatt, Graffeo, Smith, JJ)