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DHCR changing complaint policy.



When something's the matter with a tenant's apartment or building, they tell the owner, right? Wrong.

Many times, the tenant runs to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR DHCR Division of Housing and Community Renewal ) and files a formal complaint.

Owners have long complained that they could happily and easily fix the problem without governmental intervention and rent reductions, if they only knew about it.

Now, DHCR is finally taking a formal stand on the issue. As of March 1, all non-emergency, building-wide and service complaints will have to be made in writing by tenants and sent to owners at least 10 days before filing a complaint with DHCR.

Heat and hot water complaints are not subject to this procedure, nor are other conditions requiring repairs and conditions where tenants are forced to vacate To annul, set aside, or render void; to surrender possession or occupancy.

The term vacate has two common usages in the law. With respect to real property, to vacate the premises means to give up possession of the property and leave the area totally devoid of contents.
, such as because of a fire.

From now on, tenants desiring to complain about other problems will have to send a letter to the owner first. When filing a complaint, they will have to file a copy of the letter, along with a copy of the mailing receipt or receipt for certified mail certified mail
n.
Uninsured first-class mail for which proof of delivery is obtained.

certified mail (US) nEinschreiben nt 
 or the green return receipt card, or sign a certification on the form regarding mailing.

The new rule was first disclosed in an internal memo from Deputy Commissioner Paul Roldan to Caroline M. Sullivan, who heads the SCORE Bureau. SCORE stands for Service Compliance Owner Restoration and Enforcement.

The internal DHCR memo details that "Formal complaints will not be accepted by DHCR unless they are filed between 10 and 60 days after the date of the tenant's letter to the owner, except for good cause shown."

According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 Sullivan, the new procedure is not going to change the way DHCR processes cases and won't change anything from the owner's side except that they will have advance notice of problems.

"There will be no change in the owner's ability to defend," she said. "Whether or not the owner got prior notice of the complaint is not the issue. "

The prior notice will be a filing requirement only, and will be used to show the tenant fulfilled their obligation to demonstrate a need for intervention to the agency.

For the fiscal year that started April 1st, 1996 the SCORE intake of service cases totalled 6,453, as of Feb. 22, 1997. The average intake during the prior fiscal year was 163 a week, while this year's average so far is 137.3 per week.

Sullivan said the average resolution takes about six months, while "a lot take longer and a lot take less."

But, "it happens frequently" that owners are not notified of the problem and the tenant merely files a complaint with DHCR instead. "And that's one of the things we'd like to reduce," said Sullivan.

Owners reps hailed the policy as one that is long overdue and important to the speedy resolution of tenants' problems.

"It's purpose is to encourage the owners to make the repairs expeditiously ex·pe·di·tious  
adj.
Acting or done with speed and efficiency. See Synonyms at fast1.



ex
" said Marilyn Davenport, vice president of government affairs at the Real Estate board of New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
. She said they. were very happy, as this was something that REBNY REBNY Real Estate Board of New York  had been requesting.

Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association (RSA (1) (Rural Service Area) See MSA.

(2) (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) A highly secure cryptography method by RSA Security, Inc., Bedford, MA (www.rsa.com), a division of EMC Corporation since 2006. It uses a two-part key.
), which represents 25,000 owners, said this is something the RSA too has wanted since 1993. "We're very happy," he said. "We believe that with notice, owners will make a good faith attempt to rectify rec·ti·fy
v.
1. To set right; correct.

2. To refine or purify, especially by distillation.
 the problem."

"It's long overdue," said Dan Margulies, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), a middle market owners group. "I think it will drastically reduce the number of frivolous complaints and drastically reduce the necessity of processing the complaints that can be settled amicably am·i·ca·ble  
adj.
Characterized by or exhibiting friendliness or goodwill; friendly.



[Middle English, from Late Latin am
 between owners and tenants."

Jeffrey Turkel, a partner in Rosenberg & Estis who defends owners in tenant actions, said "Logic would dictate that before a tenant seeks to ask a state agency to devote its very limited resources to what are usually quite minor issues about a window, sink or faucet, at the very least they should prove they have asked the owner first. I'm glad they are finally taking a real world practical approach, rather than the knee jerk knee jerk
n.
See patellar reflex.


knee jerk Knee-jerk reaction, knee reflex, patellar reflex Neurology A reflex tested by tapping just below the bent knee on the patellar tendon, causing the quadriceps muscle to
 one."
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Title Annotation:Division of Housing and Community Renewal
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Mar 5, 1997
Words:691
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