Useful Life of Prior Mixed Wood-Aluminum Windows Had Expired

LVT Number: #32385

Landlord applied to the DHCR for MCI rent hikes based on installation of new windows. After the DRA ruled for landlord in 2011, tenants appealed and lost. Tenants claimed that the useful life of the prior windows hadn't expired when they were replaced, and that landlord didn't seek a useful-life waiver from the DHCR before filing its MCI application. Tenants also claimed that the cost of the windows had been "grossly inflated." The DHCR pointed out that a prior MCI rent increase order based on window installation was issued on May 31, 1985.

Landlord applied to the DHCR for MCI rent hikes based on installation of new windows. After the DRA ruled for landlord in 2011, tenants appealed and lost. Tenants claimed that the useful life of the prior windows hadn't expired when they were replaced, and that landlord didn't seek a useful-life waiver from the DHCR before filing its MCI application. Tenants also claimed that the cost of the windows had been "grossly inflated." The DHCR pointed out that a prior MCI rent increase order based on window installation was issued on May 31, 1985. The DHCR had disposed of its case file contents in connection with the prior MCI order. So available agency documentation for review was limited to the prior MCI order.

All parties agreed that the prior windows were mixed-material windows (wood and aluminum cladding). RSC Section 2522.4(a)(2) provides that the useful life for aluminum windows is 20 years, and the useful life for wood windows is 25 years. There is no listing in the RSC for the useful life of mixed wood and aluminum windows. Landlord's records, submitted to the DRA, included a property manager's memo to tenants dated Jan. 18, 1989, stating that landlord had replaced the prior windows in 1983. A letter from the property manager dated July 20, 1981, advised tenants that the window installation would begin during the fall of 1981. So the DHCR's records indicated that the prior windows were installed between 1981 and 1983. Tenants' claim that a settlement agreement with prior landlord dated July 1, 1988, which modified the prior MCI rent increase, didn't affect the work's completion date. The new windows were installed between Jan. 6, 2006, and July 16, 2007. Therefore, the prior windows were approximately 23 to 25 years old. The DHCR ruled that, since there is no definitive useful life of the mixed wood and aluminum cladded windos, and since the age of the prior windows was within the range of useful life for the wood windows and aluminum windows specified in the RSC, there was no sufficient basis to revoke the MCI increase. It was also the DHCR's policy, when the more recent MCI rent increase order was issued in 2011, that the MCI increase was based on the actual cost of the installation at the time the rent increase order was issued. 

Manhattan House Tenants' Group, Inc.: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. ZK410038RT (11/28/22)[3-pg. document]