Ansonia Residents Ass'n v. New York State Div. of Housing and Community Renewal

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Citation551 N.Y.S.2d 871,75 N.Y.2d 206,551 N.E.2d 72
Parties, 551 N.E.2d 72 In the Matter of ANSONIA RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION et al., Appellants-Respondents, v. NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL, Respondent. Ansonia Associates, Intervenor-Respondent. Thomas Soja, Individually and as President of the Ansonia Tenants Coalition, Inc., Intervenors-Respondents-Appellants.
Decision Date21 November 1989
OPINION OF THE COURT

ALEXANDER, Judge.

The primary issue presented on this appeal is whether the Rent Stabilization Law authorizes the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to award a permanent rent increase to an owner who completes a major capital improvement of a rent stabilized building. We conclude that it does. Thus we reject appellants' contention that the agency erred in construing the statutory requirement that the costs of such improvements be "amortized" as describing the method by which the corresponding rent increase is to be calculated rather than mandating that any such increase be terminated when the owner recoups the cost of a major capital improvement (see, Administrative Code of City of New York § 26-511[c][6][b]. We also reject appellants' contention that the agency has acted irrationally or arbitrarily and capriciously in concluding that the installation of storm windows in this case constituted a major capital improvement for which a permanent rent increase could be granted.

I

Respondent Ansonia Associates (Ansonia) owns a rent-stabilized building located at 2109 Broadway in New York City. In July 1981, Ansonia applied to the Conciliation and Appeals Board (the predecessor agency to respondent Division of Housing and Community Renewal [DHCR] for a rent increase following the completion of a major capital improvement. Specifically, Ansonia's application requested a 3.12% rent increase, based on its costs of $339,471 in installing storm windows in the subject building. The Ansonia Residents' Association and the Ansonia Tenants' Association, both representing the tenants of the building, opposed the application. On August 9, 1984, the District Rent Administrator determined that the installation of storm windows constituted a major capital improvement. In calculating the corresponding rent increase, the administrator disallowed some of Ansonia's expenses and awarded Ansonia a rent increase of 2.15%. Both tenants' organizations and Ansonia filed petitions for administrative review and on May 23, 1985, the Commissioner denied the petitions and affirmed the determination of the District Rent Administrator.

All three parties then instituted article 78 proceedings which were consolidated by Supreme Court. That court granted DHCR's cross motion to remit the proceedings to the agency for further consideration. In remitting, the court directed DHCR to consider, inter alia, whether the installation of storm windows qualified as a major capital improvement or was actually deferred maintenance, whether the installation was "building-wide", whether and to what extent the rents of the building's commercial tenants should have been included in the calculation of the rent increase, whether an increase should have been withheld until claimed inadequacies in the installation and alleged continuing leaks were remedied, whether any rent increase based upon the major capital improvement could be permanent, and whether the grant of a 2.15% increase for this improvement when added to the other increases recently received by the owner totaled more than the 6% annual increase allowed by statute.

The Commissioner reviewed the entire record and upon reconsideration, denied the owners' petition, granted the tenants' petitions to the extent of denying the requested rent increase with respect to eight apartments where, according to the record, Ansonia had found it impossible to install new windows due to the physical characteristics of the windows involved, and otherwise affirmed the determination of the District Rent Administrator. The Commissioner found that the storm window installation was building-wide, constituted a major capital improvement and that a permanent rent increase could be awarded for such an improvement.

The tenants' organizations 1 and Ansonia again instituted article 78 proceedings challenging DHCR's determination. Ansonia contended that certain fees and expenses were improperly excluded from the rent increase calculation while the tenants alleged that DHCR erred in determining that the installation of storm windows constituted a major capital improvement and in granting a permanent rent increase for such an improvement. Supreme Court dismissed the proceedings. On the parties' cross appeals, the Appellate Division affirmed, 144 A.D.2d 1040, 535 N.Y.S.2d 284, without opinion, and subsequently denied reargument and leave to appeal to this court. We granted leave to the tenants' organizations 2 and now affirm the order of the Appellate Division.

II

On this appeal, the tenants argue that DHCR erred and was arbitrary and capricious in determining that the installation of storm windows in living areas but not in hallways or other common areas was a "building-wide" major capital improvement and that the failure to install new prime windows did not preclude a major capital improvement rent increase. The tenants further argue that DHCR erroneously construed section 26-511(c)(6)(b) of the Rent Stabilization Law to authorize the agency to award a permanent rent increase on the basis of a major capital improvement.

We note at the outset that our review of DHCR's interpretation of the statutes it administers is limited. "Where the interpretation of a statute or its application involves knowledge and understanding of underlying operational practices or entails an evaluation of factual data and inferences to be drawn therefrom, the courts regularly defer to the governmental agency charged with the responsibility for administration of the statute. If its interpretation is not irrational or unreasonable, it will be upheld." (Kurcsics v. Merchants Mut. Ins. Co., 49 N.Y.2d 451, 459, 426 N.Y.S.2d 454, 403 N.E.2d 159; see also, Matter of Salvati v. Eimicke, 72 N.Y.2d 784, 791, 537 N.Y.S.2d 16, 533 N.E.2d 1045; Matter of Colt Indus. v. New York City Dept. of Fin., 66 N.Y.2d 466, 497 N.Y.S.2d 887, 488 N.E.2d 817.)

DHCR's determination that an alteration constitutes a major capital improvement within the meaning of section 26-511(c)(6)(b) necessarily entails the agency's expertise in evaluating factual data and is entitled to deference if not irrational or unreasonable. Mindful of our limited standard of review, we reject the tenants' threshold argument that DHCR erred in concluding that the installation of storm windows at the subject building is a major capital improvement. The agency has rationally interpreted the requirement of section 26-511(c)(6)(b) that such improvements be "building-wide" to be satisfied by the installation of storm windows in virtually all the building's living areas notwithstanding that none were installed in hallways or other common areas (see also, New York City Rent Stabilization Code [9 NYCRR] § 2522.4[a][2][i]. 3

Nor has DHCR acted arbitrarily or capriciously in determining that this installation of storm windows qualified as a major capital improvement contrary to the agency's Operational Bulletin 84-4, which provides that the installation of storm windows is not a major capital improvement if unaccompanied by the installation of prime windows. Operational Bulletin 84-4 became effective after the determination of the District Rent Administrator in this case and DHCR has allowed Ansonia the benefit of the agency's published exception to that bulletin for parties who had expended sums installing storm windows before its effective date (see, DHCR Update No. 85-3). In so treating Ansonia's rent increase application, DHCR has acted consistently with its treatment of the rent-increase applications of other owners who installed storm windows before the effective date of Operational Bulletin 84-4 (cf., Matter of Field Delivery Serv. [Roberts], 66 N.Y.2d 516, 498 N.Y.S.2d 111, 488 N.E.2d 1223). Accordingly, there is no basis upon which to disturb the agency's determination that Ansonia's installation of new storm windows constituted a major...

To continue reading

Request your trial
63 cases
  • Brenner v. Gen. Plumbing Corp.
    • United States
    • New York Civil Court
    • January 23, 2015
    ... ... No. 84237/2013. Civil Court, City of New York, Kings County. Jan. 23, 2015. DeLotto & Fajardo, ... judgment action in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the County of Kings in the ... Williams, 30 AD3d 466, 818 N.Y.S.2d 121 (App.Div., 2d Dept., 2006) in which the Appellate ... g., Assembly Debates, infra, at 29394; Ansonia I, infra; Park Knoll Tenants' Ass'n v. DHCR, ... private investment in residential housing. As Mayor Lindsay stated then: [t]he City is ... See Ansonia Residents' Ass'n v. DHCR, No. 17947/85 (Sup.Ct. N.Y. Co ... Dairy-men's League Co-operative Assn., 222 App.Div. 341, 346, 226 N.Y.S. 226, 232 ) ... ...
  • Jourdain v. N.Y.S. Div. of Hous. & Cmty. Renewal
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • January 31, 2018
    ...Law did not apply to some 400,000 apartments constructed after 1947" ( Matter of Ansonia Residents Assn. v. New York State Div. of Hous. & Community Renewal, 75 N.Y.2d 206, 216, 551 N.Y.S.2d 871, 551 N.E.2d 72 [citation omitted] ). "[T]he dual purposes of the Rent Stabilization Law were to ......
  • Kuzmich v. 50 Murray St. Acquisition LLC
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • June 25, 2019
    ... ... No. 50, No. 51 Court of Appeals of New York. June 25, 2019 OPINION OF THE COURT STEIN, J ... landlord has included in each lease and renewal thereof for such unit for the tenant in residence ... exclusion "shall not apply to housing accommodations which became or become subject to ... , in another ( see Matter of New York State Assn. of Life Underwriters v. New York State ... vacancy rate" and "help create a 24hour community, spurring the development of retail and ... in construing [a] statute' " ( Matter of Ansonia Residents Assn. v. New York State Div. of Hous. & ... ...
  • FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTG. v. NEW YORK STATE DHCR
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • June 3, 1994
    ... ... NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL, Defendant ... No ... Ansonia Residents Ass'n v. New York State Div. of Hous ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT