New Building Blocks Light and Air to Tenants' Windows
LVT Number: #31339
Rent-stabilized tenants complained to the DHCR of a reduction in services after their windows were blocked when a new building was erected in the empty lot next door and partially obstructed air and light to their windows. The new building's wall was eight inches from their windows. The DRA ruled for five tenants, and denied landlord's PARs. Landlord then filed an Article 78 court appeal, arguing that the DHCR's decisions were arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.
The court ruled against landlord. It was not irrational for the DHCR to conclude that the providing of light and air through a window is a required service within the meaning of Rent Stabilization Law Section 26-514. So, the DHCR's decision had a rational basis and wasn't arbitrary and capricious. Even though the DHCR had at one time issued an opinion letter stating that these circumstances wouldn't create a reduction in services under the RSL, a DHCR opinion letter wasn't an order and wasn't a basis to rule for landlord. The tenants' rents must remain frozen until service was restored and, in this case, that was virtually impossible. While a harsh result, landlord's only remedy was a change to the law.
Surat Realty v. DHCR: Index No. 515290/2019, 2021 NY Slip Op 30890(U)(Sup. Ct. Kings; 3/22/21; Sweeney, J)