Submit Right Documents When Making Records Access Request
From time to time, you may need to ask the DHCR for certain information or documents. For example, you may be defending against a reduced services complaint and want to see the DHCR inspection report, or you may want a printout of all cases currently pending at the DHCR for a building you’ve just bought. Or you may want to obtain copies of all prior MCI orders that relate to your building to check the age of equipment being replaced. If so, you can get this information or documentation by filing a records access request with the DHCR.
It’s important that you submit the right documents with your request for records access. If you don’t, the DHCR will deny your request. You’ll then have to resubmit your request with the right documents, causing a delay in getting the information or documents you need.
Requests for Records Access and Freedom of Information Law Requests
The DHCR recently issued Operational Bulletin No. 2016-2, which covers procedures for records access and Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests. It replaces Operational Bulletin No. 93-1.
The bulletin points out that the Office of Rent Administration (ORA) is the custodian of records for apartments subject to rent control and rent stabilization. These records include copies of orders; case files; rent control—MBR, fuel, and registration cards; and rent-stabilized rent registration filings.
In general, these records can be accessed by the owner of record, or its authorized representative. As a result, the bulletin points out it is not necessary for the requester to cite the FOIL statute when requesting records access.
You may file a records access request by email to ORArecords@nyshcr.org. You may also download and fill out a copy of a DHCR form called a “Request for Records Access.” The most recent form says Rec-1 (6/16) in the bottom left-hand corner. Or you can submit a letter that sufficiently details the records sought along with the appropriate documents to prove your identity and/or authorization to view the records. These can be sent to DHCR; Office of Rent Administration; Records Access unit; Gertz Plaza; 92-31 Union Hall St., 6th Floor; Jamaica, NY 11433.
FOIL request procedures, on the other hand, are conducted when the requester is not the subject tenant or owner, or its authorized representative. The request is required to be submitted to the NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) FOIL Officer. The requester may submit a letter that describes in sufficient detail the records sought. The request is required to be submitted via email to HCRFOIL@nyshcr.org or by U.S. Mail to NYS Homes and Community Renewal, FOIL Officer, 641 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10022. The HCR FOIL Officer reserves the right to review and assign the request to the appropriate department within HCR for processing.
Requests for Records and Freedom of Information requests will be acknowledged in writing by email or postal mail within five business days. After the acknowledgment has been sent, a written decision will be issued within 20 business days that will grant access in whole or in part or deny access to the records. If additional time is required, the requester will be notified. The decision will also advise the requester of the right to appeal to the Appeals Officer.
ORA records may be delivered electronically or by U.S. mail. They may also be reviewed or delivered at the Queens office located at 92-31 Union Hall Street, Jamaica, NY 11433, or at another ORA office as specified in the decision. When records cannot be transmitted electronically, fees for reproduction of standard size paper are 25 cents a page. And the fees must be paid by check or money order, payable to the DHCR.
Documents to Submit with Request
When filing a records access request, the documents you need to submit with your request vary depending on whether you’re the owner of the building or a representative of the owner, such as a managing agent or attorney.
Building owner. You must submit proof of ownership such as a copy of the deed or tax bill with your request.
Representative of building owner. You must submit proof ownership and either:
> A statement signed by the owner authorizing you to request the information and/or documents on the owner’s behalf. You can ask the owner to sign a statement like this:
Dear Office of Rent Administration,
I, the undersigned, am the owner of the subject building. This letter authorizes [insert name of representative] to make a “Request for Records Access” on my behalf.
OWNER’S SIGNATURE: ____________________
> A power of attorney form. This is a legal document allowing you to act on the owner’s behalf for various matters.