BE 410238 RO / BE 410090 RT
                                                STATE OF NEW YORK
                      DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                              JAMAICA, NEW YORK   11433



          ----------------------------------X
          IN THE  MATTER  OF  THE  ADMINISTRATIVE    ADMINISTRATIVE  REVIEW
          APPEALS OF                            DOCKET NOS.:  BE 410238 RO
                                                              BE 410090 RT
                     545 WEST COMPANY, OWNER
                           AND
                    ELLEN IRIS CARNI, TENANT,
                                                D.R.O DOCKET NO.: U-3123036-R

                                 PETITIONERS
          ----------------------------------X                                   


           ORDER AND OPINION DENYING THE OWNER'S AND GRANTING THE TENANT'S 
                         PETITIONS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
                                   

          On  May  2O,  1987,  the  above-named  petitioner-owner  filed  a
          Petition for Administrative Review against  an  order  issued  on
          April 15, 1987, by the District  Rent  Administrator,  concerning
          housing accommodations known as 545 West 111th Street, New  York,
          New York, Apartment 7-A.

          On May 16, 1987 Ellen Iris Carni, the  tenant  of  apartment  7-A
          also  filed  a  Petition  for  Administrative   Review   of   the
          Administrator's order.

          The Commissioner is consolidating these two  petitions  and  this
          order is dispositive of both.

          The appealed order of the District Rent Administrator  determined
          that a rent overcharge had occurred.

          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 by the administrative appeal.

          In the owner's petition, the owner contends, in  substance,  that
          the  District  Rent  Administrator's  order  is   arbitrary   and
          capricious in arriving at the rent computations and that  it  did
          not collect the Major Capital  Improvement  (MCI)  rent  increase
          granted pursuant to Order No. CDR 5597, until October, 1985.

          The tenant  alleged  in  her  petition  that  the  District  Rent
          Administrator improperly  failed  to  award  treble  damages  for
          overcharges collected, on or after, April 1, 1984.

          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






          BE 410238 RO / BE 410090 RT
          determination of these matters be based  upon  the  law  or  code
          provisions in  effect  on  March  31,  1984.   Therefore,  unless
          otherwise indicated,  any  reference  to  sections  of  the  Rent
          Stabilization Code (Code) contained herein are  to  the  code  in
          effect on April 30, 1987 and this proceeding is being  determined
          pursuant thereto.

          This proceeding was commenced on March 30, 1984 upon  the  filing
          of a general complaint of rent overcharge by the tenant with  the
          former New York City Conciliation and Appeals Board (CAB).

          On April 1, 1984, responsibility for the administration  of  rent
          stabilization in New York City was transferred to  the  New  York
          State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR).

          The Commissioner is of the  opinion  that  the  owner's  petition
          should be  denied  and  that  the  tenant's  petition  should  be
          granted.

          The record revealed that the owner was served with  the  tenant's
          overcharge complaint along  with  a  notice  requesting  that  it
          submit a complete rental history for the subject  apartment  from
          its base date and that the owner complied with the notice.

          The District Rent Administrator determined however, based on  the
          record in this case, that the  owner  was  charging  the  subject
          tenant a rental  in  excess  of  the  lawful  stabilization  rent
          permitted under the applicable provisions of the  Law,  Code  and
          Guidelines.

          The Commissioner finds that no evidence was adduced by the  owner
          in support of its contention on appeal  that  the  District  Rent
          Administrator's order is arbitrary and capricious in arriving  at
          the rent computations.

          Moreover, the record below reveals that the owner filed an answer 
          to the tenant's complaint, on January 6, 1986,  in  which  it  is
          stated that Order  No.  CDR  5597  (granting  the  owner  an  MCI
          building-wide increase of $11.37 per apartment) became  effective
          on May 1, 1983.

          In computing the rental for the subject apartment,  the  District
          Rent Administrator's rent chart shows that this MCI rent increase 
          was taken into consideration, effective May 1,  1983,  as  stated
          in the owner's own answer.

          Accordingly,  the  owner's  contention  on   appeal   about   the
          collectability of Order No. CDR 5597 is without merit.

          As to the tenant's (Ellen Carni) allegations in her petition that 
          the District  Rent  Administrator  should  have  assessed  treble
          damages, for overcharges collected, on or after, April  1,  1984,
          the owner has the burden of proof to show lack of willfulness.

          Section 25-516(a) of the Rent Stabilization Law now provides  for
          "a penalty equal to three times the amount of the overcharge"  to
          be paid  to  the  tenant  unless  "the  owner  establishes  by  a
          preponderance  of  the  evidence  that  the  overcharge  was  not
          willful" in which case the  Division  of  Housing  and  Community






          BE 410238 RO / BE 410090 RT
          Renewal (DHCR) "shall establish the penalty as the amount of  the
          overcharge plus interest."

          In the case at hand, the owner's answer to the tenant's  petition
          for administrative review, (filed on November 25, 1987)  contains
          a copy of a refund check, dated November 6,  1987,  made  to  the
          tenant's order, in the amount  of  $17,275.39,  representing  all
          excess  rent  collected  as  calculated  by  the  District   Rent
          Administrator.

          Inasmuch as the tenant's petition does  not  allege  the  owner's
          failure to refund excess rent, the Commissioner  finds  that  the
          owner refunded such amount to the subject tenant.

          Finally, the Commissioner finds that treble damages  should  have
          been assessed by the District Rent Administrator below.

          The record clearly shows that the owner received  notice  at  the
          District Rent Office level that treble damages may be assessed.

          The owner's answer form, dated January 6,  1986,  clearly  states
          in pertinent part:

               Your  failure  to   comply   with   the   aforementioned
               requirements will result  in  a  determination  by  DHCR
               that  your  Answer  is  incomplete  and  you   will   be
               considered in default.   Upon  such  default  DHCR  will
               establish the tenant's lawful stabilized rent  and  will
               require the owner to  refund  to  the  tenant  all  such
               overcharge(s) covering the  period  prior  to  April  1,
               1984.   Further,  the  owner  is   subject   to   treble
               damages,  reasonable   costs,   attorney's   fees,   and
               interest on  rent  overcharges  collected  on  or  after
               April 1, 1984.

          Moreover, the Commissioner notes that the overcharge refund  came
          too late to justify a denial of treble damages.

          For an owner to avoid a finding of treble  damages,  DHCR  policy
          requires that the refund either be made within  the  twenty  (20)
          day answer period or reasonably soon after the owner receives the 
          overcharge complaint.

          It is apparent that the owner's refund herein was made after  the
          issuance of the District Rent Administrator's order.

          Upon the facts found herein,  the  Commissioner  finds  that  the
          presumption of willfulness contained in Section 25.516(a) of  the
          Rent Stabilization Law has not been overcome by the owner.

          On the issue of treble damages the owner has the burden of  proof
          of showing a lack of willfulness and this was not accomplished by 
          the owner in this proceeding.

          The attached calculation chart is incorporated in and made a part 
          of the Commissioner's order.

          The Commissioner has recomputed the overcharge adding a  multiple
          of three against those overcharges occurring after April 1,  1984






          BE 410238 RO / BE 410090 RT
          and subtracting from the  total  overcharge  any  monies  already
          refunded.

          This order may, 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, be filed and enforced by the tenant 
          in the same manner as a judgment  or  not  in  excess  of  twenty
          percent  thereof  per  month  may  be  offset  against  any  rent
          thereafter due the owner.

          THEREFORE, pursuant to the Rent Stabilization Law and Code, it is

          ORDERED, that the owner's petition be, and  the  same  hereby  is
          denied and that the tenant's petition be and the same  hereby  is
          granted and that the District Rent Administrator's order be,  and
          the same hereby is, modified in accordance with  this  Order  and
          Opinion to provide that the remaining  overcharge  of  $12,147.78
          must be refunded to the tenant.


          ISSUED:
                                                  ------------------------
                                                  ELLIOT SANDER
                                                  Deputy Commissioner
           
             
                                          
    

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