ART 02239 B
                                  STATE OF NEW YORK
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                              JAMAICA, NEW YORK   11433

          APPEAL OF                               DOCKET NO.: ART 02239 B

                                                  DRO DOCKET NO.: 64559 G



          On March 27, 1985 the above-named petitioner refiled an 
          Administrative Appeal against an order issued on July 6, 1984 by 
          the Rent Administrator, concerning housing accommodations known as 
          1565 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York, Apartment 3, wherein the 
          Administrator dismissed the tenant's complaint of overcharge.

          The Commissioner notes that this proceeding was initiated prior to 
          April 1, 1984.  Sections 2526.1(a)(4) and 2521.1(d) of the Rent 
          Stabilization Code (effective May 1, 1987) governing rent 
          overcharge and fair market rent proceedings provide that 
          determination of these matters be based upon the law or code 
          provisions in effect on March 31, 1984.  Therefore, unless 
          otherwise indicated, reference to Sections of the Rent 
          Stabilization Code (Code) contained herein are to the Code in 
          effect on April 30, 1987.

          The tenant commenced his residency at the subject apartment in 
          September of 1976 pursuant to a two year vacancy lease and 
          subsequently filed his complaint with the New York City 
          Conciliation and Appeals Board (CAB).  In an opinion issued on 
          November 17, 1983, the CAB determined that the owner had evaded the 
          Rent Stabilization Law when he required the tenant to execute a new 
          lease on June 1, 1977 at an increased rental of $30.00 per month 
          commencing more than one year before the expiration of the tenant's 
          vacancy lease which commenced September 15, 1976 (Opinion Number 

          The owner then requested reconsideration of that opinion, claiming 
          that while the tenant had rented the subject apartment solely for 

          ART 02239 B

          residential purposes, shortly after taking residence he began using 
          the premises as a photo studio and affixed a sign outside the 
          premises advertising it as a photo studio.  The owner further 
          alleged that the parties then agreed that the tenant would be 
          allowed to affix the sign and to use the premises both as a 
          residence and as a photo studio.  In support of his contentions, 
          the owner submitted photographs and copies of the leases in 
          question.  Based on the record before him, the Administrator then 
          found that in consideration for the tenant's entering into the June 
          1, 1977 lease at an increased rental of $30.00 per month the tenant 
          was granted the right to affix a sign advertising the premises as 
          a photo studio and to use the premises for commercial purposes.  
          Therefore, the Administrator determined that the tenant's complaint 
          should be dismissed since the additional $30.00 per month 
          constituted additional rent and did not represent an illegal fee.

          On appeal, the petitioner-tenant contends, in substance, that:

               (A)  On September 7, 1976, he advised the owner 
                    that he needed the apartment for a small photo 
                    studio and a residence, and that the owner 
                    responded that the tenant could use the 
                    apartment as he wished;

               (B)  Seven months later, the owner told the tenant 
                    to sign a new lease and that the law forced 
                    him to raise the rent by $30.00;

               (C)  Prior to the expiration of the new lease, the 
                    owner again attempted to raise the rent and 
                    upon tenant's refusal to pay that increase, 
                    the owner commenced a hold-over proceeding 
                    which was dismissed after trial in the Housing 
                    Part of the Civil Court; and

               (D)  New York City Housing Preservation and 
                    Development (HPD) violations were placed on 
                    the subject premises.

          In response to the tenant's petition, the owner filed an answer 
          stating, in substance, that the tenant abuses rent regulations by 
          continuously filing unsubstantiated charges.

          After a careful consideration of the entire evidence of record the 
          Commissioner is of the opinion that the Administrative Appeal 
          should be granted and the Administrator's order modified in 
          accordance with this Order and Opinion.

          At the outset, the Commissioner notes that there is no 
          authorization in the Rent Stabilization Law for owners to charge 
          additional rents in consideration for allowing tenants to use the 
          premises for professional or commercial purposes.  Whether or not 

          ART 02239 B

          a tenant agrees to such an arrangement is irrelevant, since tenants 
          cannot waive their rights under the Rent Stabilization Law.

          In the instant case, it is undisputed that the owner permitted the 
          tenant to use the premises as a photo studio.  In his subsequent 
          hold-over proceeding, the owner alleged, unsuccessfully, that the 
          tenant went beyond the permitted use in that he made structural 
          alterations and sold merchandise at the premises.  Even if true, 
          however, these considerations cannot be used by an owner to add an 
          improper charge to the lawful stabilized rent.  Finally, it is 
          noted that the tenant ceased all business operations in the 
          apartment by July 26, 1982, as documented by a court-approved 
          stipulation agreement signed by the parties on May 27, 1982.

          Thus, the original CAB decision was correct and the $30.00 charged 
          by the owner in June of 1977 was an overcharge.

          On the basis of the entire evidence of record, it is found that the 
          Administrative Appeal should be granted and the Administrator's 
          order modified to state that the owner overcharged the tenant in 
          the amount of $2,914.20, including interest on overcharges since 
          April 1, 1984, as set forth on the annexed rent calculation chart, 
          which is incorporated herein.  The record does not support a 
          finding of willfulness in this case, especially since rent 
          increases for the professional use of apartments were allowable 
          under rent control.  Therefore, treble damages are not awarded.

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

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

          ORDERED, that the petition be, and the same hereby is, granted; and 
          that the Administrator's order be, and the same hereby is modified 
          in accordance with this Order and Opinion. 

                                                  JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                                  Acting Deputy Commissioner


TenantNet Home | TenantNet Forum | New York Tenant Information
DHCR Information | DHCR Decisions | Housing Court Decisions | New York Rent Laws
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

Subscribe to our Mailing List!
Your Email      Full Name