AJ 410274 RT

                                  STATE OF NEW YORK
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                              JAMAICA, NEW YORK   11433

          APPEAL OF                             DOCKET NO.:  AJ 410274 RT

                     ROBERT SCHMUKLER,
                                                DRO DOCKET NO.: 3124288 R / 

                                  PETITIONER    OWNER:  AUDUBON MANAGEMENT INC.


          On October 23, 1986, the above-named  petitioner-tenant  filed  a
          Petition for Administrative Review against  an  order  issued  on
          September 17, 1986 by the Rent Administrator, 10 Columbus Circle, 
          New York, New York concerning  housing  accommodations  known  as
          159-34 Riverside Drive, Apartment 4D, New York, New York  wherein
          the Administrator determined that an overcharge had occurred  and
          directed a refund of $2107.44 inclusive of  excess  security  and
          interest on the overcharge occurring on and after April 1, 1984.

          The Commissioner has reviewed all of the evidence in  the  record
          and has carefully examined that portion of  the  record  relevant
          to the issues raised by the administrative appeal.

          This proceeding was originally commenced on March 26, 1984 by the 
          filing of a rent overcharge complaint by the tenant.   In  answer
          to the complaint, the owner submitted a complete  rental  history
          for the subject apartment.

          In the order here under review, the Administrator determined that 
          the tenant had been overcharged in the  amount  of  $2107.44  and
          directed the owner to refund such overcharge to the tenant.

          In the appeal, the tenant contends that he is entitled to  treble
          damages as is provided by the Rent Stabilization Law.

          The owner contends that since the overcharge was not wilful,  the
          Administrator was correct in not assessing treble damages.

          The Commissioner is of the opinion that this petition  should  be

          The Rent Stabilization  Law  assesses  treble  damages  where  an
          overcharge is wilful.   The  statute  creates  a  presumption  of
          wilfulness subject to rebuttal by a showing of non-wilfulness  of
          the overcharge by a preponderance of the evidence.  The  Division

          AJ 410274 RT
          of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) has determined  that  the
          burden of proof in  establishing  lack  of  wilfulness  shall  be
          deemed to have  been  met  and,  therefore,  the  treble  damages
          penalty is inapplicable in some situation, where it  is  apparent
          or where it is demonstrated that the  overcharge  occurred  under
          certain  specified  circumstances  as  for  example   where   the
          overcharge is caused by the hypertechnical  nature  of  the  rent
          computation such as where  the  owner  "piggy-backed"  guidelines
          increases within the same guidelines year.

          An examination of the record reveals that the instant  overcharge
          occurred  as  a  result  of  the  owner's  "piggy-backing"   rent
          increases  under  guidelines  order  Number  8,  i.e.  taking  an
          increase on the prior tenant's lease commencing November 1,  1976
          and taking an increase under the same guidelines order number  in
          this  tenant's   initial   lease   commencing   June   1,   1977.
          Accordingly, the Commissioner finds that treble damages  are  not

          This order may, upon the expiration of the period  in  which  the
          owner may institute a proceedi g  pursuant  to  Article  Seventy-
          Eight of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, be filed and  enforced
          as a judgment or not  in  excess  of  twenty  percent  per  month
          thereof may be offset against any rent thereafter due the owner.

          THEREFORE,  in  accordance  with  the  provision  of   the   Rent
          Stabilization Law and Code, it is

          ORDERED, that this petition be, and the same hereby  is,  denied,
          and, that the order of the Rent Administrator be,  and  the  same
          hereby is, affirmed.

                                                  JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                                  Deputy Commissioner

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