Rent stabilized tenants in a Upper West Side building won a great victory today when the DHCR again revoked a $39.16 per room MCI rent increases for new windows after inspecting the windows and finding that they are defective. The owner installed the new windows in 2004 but when they were originally found to be defective in certain apartments the DHCR permanently exempted those apartments from the increase in 2006. The owner appealed arguing that the exemption should be temporary and that it should be given another chance to repair the windows, although tenants argued it had already had multiple chances. The owner lost its Article 78 appeal before Judge Marilyn Shafer. The owner then appealed to the Appellate Division. In 2010 a divided court ruled in Langham Mansions v. DHCR that the agency should have suspended rather than permanently denied the increase, despite evidence in the record that the owner had repeatedly tried to repair the windows and failed. The matter was sent back to the DHCR and the owner then had four additional years to try to repair the windows. The owner failed to do so and when the DHCR reinspected in 2014 they were found to be defective, as the tenants had claimed they were in 2006. The windows were found to be both difficult to open and had air seepage due to gaps between the bottom sash and frame.
It has been my experience that many “new” metal windows are defective in that they are more difficult to open than older windows. In addition, it appears as though the force meter used to measure windows does not take into consideration the differences in ability of different people, particularly the elderly. This was a great victory for tenants who kept demanding that the windows either work properly or that they pay no MCI.