Docket Number: BH-130122-RT
                                 STATE OF NEW YORK
                           OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                    GERTZ PLAZA
                              92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                              JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433

        APPEAL OF                              DOCKET NO.: BH-130122-RT
             YVONNE CHICOINE,                  DRO DOCKET NO.: Q-3119133-RT
                              PETITIONER    : 

        On August  18,  1987,  the  above-named  petitioner-tenant  filed  a
        Petition for Administrative Review of an order issued  on  July  17,
        1987, by the District Rent Administrator, 10  Columbus  Circle,  New
        York, New York,  concerning  the  housing  accommodations  known  as
        Apartment E-3 at 70-35 Broadway, Jackson Heights, New York,  wherein
        the District Rent Administrator determined that the tenant had  been

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

        This proceeding was originally commenced on March 29,  1984  by  the
        filing of a fair market rent appeal and a  overcharge  complaint  by
        the tenant with the New York City Conciliation  and  Appeals  Board,
        one of the predecessor  agencies  to  the  DHCR.   The  tenant  took
        occupancy  on  November  17,  1980.   The  tenant's  initial   lease
        commenced December 1, 1980  and  expired  November  30,  1982  at  a
        monthly rent of $365.00.

        The owner and prior owner were served with a copy of  the  complaint
        and were requested to submit rent records to prove the lawfulness of 
        the rent being charged.  In answer, the current owner stated that it 
        took title to the subject building on March  21,  1985.   The  owner
        submitted, among other things, a bill dated October 21, 1980 in  the
        amount of  $1,336.73  for  improvements  to  the  subject  apartment
        installed by  the  prior  owner  prior  to  the  tenant's  occupancy
        consisting of a refrigerator, metal wall cabinets, kitchen sink  and
        cabinets, stove and medicine cabinets.  The owner also  submitted  a
        letter from the prior owner indicating how the tenant's initial rent 

        was calculated which included, in addition  to  the  amount  of  the
        aforementioned bill, the amount of  $730.69  for  combination  storm

          Docket Number: BH-130122-RT

        In Order  Number  CDR  30,  918,  the  District  Rent  Administrator
        determined that the initial rent of the first stabilized tenant  did
        not exceed the fair market rent,  determined  that  the  complainant
        tenant  was  overcharged  in  the  amount  of  $1,143.37,  including
        interest on overcharges collected on or after  April  1,  1984,  and
        directed a refund of that amount to the tenant.   The  Administrator
        included in the complainant tenant's initial rent  an  allowance  of
        $51.69 for the improvements to the subject apartment. 

        In this  petition,  the  tenant  contends  that  the  items  of  new
        equipment claimed by the owner were not new  when  the  tenant  took
        occupancy.  The tenant also asserts that the principals of the owner 
        also own the supply company listed on the  bill.   The  tenant  also
        states that the Administrator's overcharge  calculations  should  be
        updated,  that  treble  damages  should  be  imposed  and  that  the
        Administrator incorrectly determined the rent for  the  period  from
        November 17, 1980 to November 30, 1980 based on 23 days rather  than
        13 days.

        In answer, the current owner asserts that  the  only  error  in  the
        tenant's rent was an incorrect vacancy allowance which was corrected 
        by the Administrator.  

        By subsequent  correspondence,  the  tenant  advised  that  she  had
        vacated the apartment.

        The Commissioner is of the opinion  that  this  petition  should  be
        granted in part.

        Section 20c(1) of the Code  provides that where there  has  been  an
        installation of new equipment in a stabilized apartment, the monthly 
        stabilization rent for said unit may be increased by 1/40th  of  the
        cost of such new equipment provided the tenant then in occupancy has 
        consented thereto in writing.  In addition, the  courts  have  ruled
        that an increase may be charged for new equipment installed during a 
        vacancy prior to the commencement of  a  new  tenancy  or  upon  the
        commencement of a new tenancy and reflected in the rent.  (Matter of 
        LeHavre Corp. v. Gribetz, et. al, N.Y.L.J., January 20, 1971,  p.19,
        col.8, (Sup. Ct. Queens Co.,  Crisona,  J.);  Matter  of  Morton  I.
        Hamberg v. Conciliation and Appeals  Board,  N.Y.L.J.,  November  8,
        1987, p.18, col.8, Sup. Ct., N.Y. Co., Sarafite, J.)).

        The record in this case indicates that the owner  submitted  a  paid
        bill for improvements to the subject  apartment  totaling  $1,336.73
        for items installed shortly before the tenant took  occupancy  while
        the apartment was vacant.  The tenant has submitted no  evidence  to
        substantiate her assertions that the items in question were not  new
        when she took occupancy or that there was a connection  between  the
        owner and the supply  company.   It  is  noted  that  the  items  in
        question were installed in  1980  and  that  the  tenant  has  since
        vacated the apartment.  The Commissioner therefore finds that the 

        Administrator properly allowed a increase for these items.  However, 
        the owner failed to submits a bill to document the installation  and
        cost of combination storm windows.  The Commissioner therefore finds 
        that no increase should be allowed for this item.

          Docket Number: BH-130122-RT

        Regarding the tenant's assertion that the Administrator's overcharge 
        calculations should be updated, the Commissioner finds that the
        Administrator properly calculated the overcharge through the date of 
        the Administrator's order and therefore no updating is required.

        Section 26-516 of the Rent Stabilization Law provides, in  pertinent
        part, that where an owner  has  been  found  by  the  DHCR  to  have
        overcharged a tenant, treble damages shall  be  imposed  unless  the
        owner establishes by  a  preponderance  of  the  evidence  that  the
        overcharge was not willful, in which case interest shall be imposed.

        The Division has adopted the policy that  where  the  complaint  was
        filed prior to April 1, 1984, but the DHCR subsequently notified the 
        owner that treble damages would be imposed for overcharges occurring 
        subsequent to April 1, 1984, the DHCR  may  impose  treble  damages.
        Where the owner  was  never  given  such  notice,  damages  will  be
        restricted to the amount of the overcharge plus interest.

        The record in this case indicates that  both  the  owner  and  prior
        owner were notified by the Administrator that treble  damages  would
        be imposed.  Neither the owner nor the prior owner  has  established
        lack of willfulness in the overcharge.  Therefore  the  Commissioner
        finds that treble damages should be imposed.

        The Commissioner further finds  that  the  Administrator  improperly
        calculated the tenant's lawful rent for the period from November 17, 
        1980 to November 30, 1980 by basing the rent for that period  on  23
        days rather than 13 days  and  by  basing  the  rent  on  the  prior
        tenant's last monthly rent rather than the  tenant's  initial  lease

        The lawful stabilized rent is recalculated on  the  attached  rental
        history chart, which is fully made a part of this order.

        Section 2526.1(f) of the current Rent Stabilization Code provides in 
        pertinent part that:

               1)  for overcharges collected prior to April 1, 1984, 
                   an owner will be held responsible only for his or
                   her portion of the overcharges, in the absence of
                   collusion or any relationship between such owner
                   and any prior owner; and

               2)  for overcharges collected on or after April 1, 1984, 
                   a current owner shall be responsible for all
                   overcharge penalties, including penalties based upon
                   overcharges collected by any prior owner.

        The record in this case indicates that the current owner took  title
        to the subject building on March 21,  1985.   Although  the  current
        owner first acquired the subject premises on March 21, 1985,  it  is
        jointly and severally responsible  with  the  prior  owner  for  the
        overcharges ($1,334.04) occurring from April 1, 1984, to  March  21,
        1985,  and  the  current  owner  is  individually  responsible   for
        overcharges ($2,856.48) occurring from March 21, 1985  to  June  30,

          Docket Number: BH-130122-RT

        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.

        Because this determination concerns lawful rents only through 
        June 30, 1987, the owner is cautioned to adjust subsequent rents  to
        an amount no greater than that determined by  this  order  plus  any
        lawful increases, and to register any adjusted rents with this order 
        and opinion being given as the explanation for  the  adjustment.   A
        copy of this order and opinion is being sent to the current occupant 
        of the subject apartment.

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

        ORDERED, that this petition be and the same  hereby  is  granted  in
        part, and the District Rent Administrator's order be  and  the  same
        hereby is modified to show that: the prior owner is responsible  for
        refunding a  total  overcharge  of  $1,283.84-  the  amount  of  the
        overcharge occurring from November 1, 1980 through March  31,  1984;
        the prior owner and current owner are jointly and  severally  liable
        for refunding $1,334.04- the amount  of  overcharge  occurring  from
        April 1,  1984,  to  March  21,  1985;  and  the  current  owner  is
        responsible  for  refunding  $2,856.48-  the  amount  of  overcharge
        occurring from March 21, 1985, through June 30, 1987.


                                        ELLIOT SANDER
                                        Deputy Commissioner


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