DHCR’s Office of Rent Administration website announced that it is opening its Borough and District Offices in NYC and Westchester to provide service to visitors “By Appointment Only” scheduled at least a day in advance.
The announcement makes clear that most information should still be requested and obtained by email whenever possible and that there may be delays in obtaining access to the offices to clear building security and elevator passenger limits.
The only DHCR office taking paper submissions in person for date stamping purposes will be Gertz Plaza (except that the Westchester DRO will accept tenant applications pertaining to SCRIE/DRIE and owner applications pertaining to rent control rent adjustments). Paper submissions relating to pending cases will not be accepted at Borough or District Offices and should instead be mailed to Gertz Plaza to the attention of the Docket Number of the pending case. We recommend mailing in a way that can be tracked so that you maintain proof of filing your submission. We also note that DHCR has already begun opening its backlog of mail, docketing new matters and forwarding complaints and opposing papers, although it is unclear whether actual processing of the cases is taking place (except that TPU is still functioning).
Most importantly DHCR reminds everyone that it will observe social distancing and all related health protocols. All visitors will be required to wear face masks. The notice states that visitors with an illness or fever are being directed to seek service over the phone or by email, but there is no statement about whether visitors will be tested or examined in any way when they come for their appointment.
While this is clearly a step in the right direction, health protocols as of now limit occupancy to 50% of staff such that DHCR will be working at less than full capacity.
Blaine Z. Schwadel, Nicholas Kamillatos and Meredith A. Ullman