Adm. Review Docket Number: BJ 130223-RO
                                 STATE OF NEW YORK
                           OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                    GERTZ PLAZA
                              92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                              JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433

        APPEAL OF                              DOCKET NO.: BJ 130223-RO 
                                               DOCKET NO.:              
                           PETITIONER-OWNER :       26497 EXAMINING UNIT
        ------------------------------------X  TENANT: ALEXANDER  POKROPIVNY

        On October 15, 1987, the above-named petitioner filed a Petition for 
        Administrative Review against an order issued on September 11,  1987
        by the Rent Administrator, 10 Columbus Circle, New  York,  New  York
        concerning the housing accommodation known as  87-46  Chelsea  Road,
        Apartment  7-K,  Jamaica,  New  York   wherein   the   Administrator
        determined that an overcharge had been collected  and  directed  the
        owner to refund $1,384.58 inclusive of excess  security  and  treble
        damages on the overcharge occurring on and after April 1, 1984.

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

        This proceeding  was  commenced  when  the  tenant  filed  a  timely
        objection to the 1984 Registration, claiming  that  the  rent  being
        paid was an overcharge.  The tenant submitted copies of  leases  for
        the subject apartment and requested reimbursement of  a  portion  of
        the additional charge being paid for a new refrigerator.

        In reply, the owner stated that since the refrigerator charge was in 
        accord with the Rent Stabilization  Law,  the  complaint  should  be
        dismissed.  The owner submitted a copy of the lease in effect on the 
        base date, April 1, 1980, and a copy of the tenant's consent to  the
        installation of a new refrigerator.

        On September 11, 1987, the Administrator issued the order here under 
        review, finding that an overcharge had occurred  and  directing  the
        owner to refund $1,384.58 inclusive of excess  security  and  treble
        damages on the overcharges collected on and after April 1, 1984.

        On appeal, the owner, contends that  the  Administrator's  order  is
        arbitrary and capricious as to the law and facts and therefore  must
        be reversed.  The owner states that the tenant and the former  owner
        had agreed to the total rent resulting from the appliance  increase.
        Moreover the current owner had purchased  the  subject  building  at
        foreclosure and consequently did not have the  prior  records  which
        would have revealed the overcharge.  Furthermore, the owner contends 

        that  as  no  evidence  of  willfulness  had  been  submitted,   the
        imposition of treble damages was arbitrary and capricious.

        Although afforded the opportunity to  do  so,  the  tenant  did  not

        Adm. Review Docket Number: BJ 130223-RO
        respond to the petition.

        The Commissioner is of the opinion  that  this  petition  should  be

        Section 2522.4(a) limits a rent increase for the installation of new 
        appliances to 1/40th of the cost.  The total  increase  computed  by
        the former owner far exceeds the allowable increase.   Although  the
        tenant agreed to pay the incorrectly  computed  rent,  Code  Section
        2520.13 voids, except in limited circumstances, a tenant's waiver of 
        a benefit under the Code, including the benefit  of  paying  only  a
        lawful  rent.   Accordingly,  the  Commissioner   finds   that   the
        Administrator correctly determined that an overcharge had occurred.

        With respect to the owner's claim that its purchase of the  building
        at a  foreclosure  sale  made  necessary  records  unavailable,  the
        Commissioner  notes  that  the  owner  had  in  its  possession  and
        submitted  copies  of  the  very  documents  which   disclosed   the

        Pursuant to Code Section 2526.1(a)(1), when an  owner  is  found  to
        have  overcharged,  there  is  a  rebuttable  presumption  that  the
        overcharge  was  willful.   Only  if  the  owner  establishes  by  a
        preponderance of the evidence that the overcharge  was  not  willful
        can it avoid treble damages.  The owner has misread the law to place 
        the burden of proof on the tenant.  The Commissioner finds that  the
        owner  did  not  submit  evidence  to  show  lack  of   willfulness.
        Accordingly, the Commissioner finds that the Administrator  properly
        assessed treble damages.

        Upon the expiration of the period in which the owner may institute a 
        proceeding pursuant to Article 78 of  the  Civil  Practice  Law  and
        Rules, this order may be filed and  enforced  as  judgment,  or  the
        tenant may offset against any rent thereafter due the owner  not  in
        excess of twenty percent per month of the remaining overcharge.

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

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


                                        ELLIOT SANDER
                                        Deputy Commissioner

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