Adm. Review Docket No.: BC710377RO

                                  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        
          APPEAL OF                            DOCKET NO.: BC710377RO
                                                                           
               
            ARTHUR T. MOTT                  
                                
                                             DRO DOCKET NO.: G-B-B-7-1-0001-R
                                             
                                             TENANT: BRENDA MULBERRY
                                PETITIONER
          ----------------------------------X                              
             


            ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
                                       IN PART

          The above-named petitioner-landlord timely filed a Petition for 
          Administrative Review against an order issued on March 3, 1987, by 
          the Rent Administrator at 50 Clinton Street, Hempstead, New York, 
          concerning housing accommodations known as apartment number 437 at 
          31 Brewster Street, Glen Cove, New York, wherein the Administrator 
          found that the landlord had attempted to circumvent the prohibition 
          against collecting security in excess of one month's rent by 
          collecting one month's "advance rent" (representing the rent for 
          the last month of the term of the tenant's vacancy lease) in 
          addition to one month's security; and the Administrator directed 
          the landlord to refund $1,950.00, including treble damages, to the 
          tenant.  


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


          This proceeding was commenced on January 26, 1987, by the filing of 
          a Tenant's Statement of Complaint. The tenant alleged therein that 
          she had taken occupancy under a one year lease whose term commenced 
          July 1, 1986 and terminated June 30, 1987; and, that at the time 
          she entered into said lease, the landlord had charged and collected 
          one month's security, one month's rent for the first month of the 
          lease and one month's rent for the last month of the lease.

          The landlord answered the complaint, in substance, admitting the 
          facts alleged therein and asserting that there was no prohibition 
          against his collecting advance rent. 

          In the appealed order, the Administrator found that the collection 
          of the advance rent herein constituted an attempt to circumvent the 







          Adm. Review Docket No.: BC710377RO



          purpose and intent of the prohibition  contained in 9NYCRR2505.4 
          against collecting security in excess of a sum equal to one month's 
          rent. The Administrator noted that the landlord had been found to 
          have so violated Section 2505.4 in an order issued in another 
          proceeding (Docket Number N-GC-86-S-R) on April 15, 1986.

          In his Petition the landlord asserts, in substance, that he did not 
          know that the collection of advance rent was a circumvention of 
          Section 2505.4; that the tenant had voluntarily consented to pay 
          the advance rent; that the Attorney General and the landlord had 
          entered into a stipulation whereby the landlord had agreed to 
          refund all prepaid rent; that the tenant has been paid $650.00, 
          plus interest in accordance with said stipulation; and that the 
          order should be revoked, if not in whole, at least as to that 
          portion which imposed treble damages. Annexed to the Petition is 
          what appears to be a copy of the tenant's original lease 
          application; a letter from the landlord to the tenant dated March 
          27, 1987 wherein the landlord states that pursuant to an agreement 
          with the Attorney General, the landlord has enclosed a check "which 
          refunds to you a portion of your security deposit"; and the front 
          of a check dated March 18, 1987 (check #0005388) drawn on the 
          account of A.T. Mott and payable to "Mulberry, Brenda" in the 
          amount of $705.33.

          In her answer opposing the Petition, the tenant asserts, in 
          substance, that the landlord's argument that his conduct should be 
          excused as the product of his ignorance is refuted by the fact that 
          the landlord employs attorneys on a full-time basis; that the 
          tenant did not "volunteer" to pay the advance rent_payment of the 
          advance rent was a precondition the landlord imposed before he 
          would rent the apartment to the tenant; the agreement with the 
          Attorney General should not excuse the landlord from paying the 
          penalty provided for in the appealed order as the payment of all 
          the money required up front by the landlord imposed an undue burden 
          on the tenant.


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


          The Commissioner notes that it is well settled that security 
          payments are not rent payments. The Commissioner further notes that 
          treble damages may be imposed on rent overcharges, but not on the 
          collection of excess security. Therefore, the Commissioner finds 
          that the Administrator erred in imposing treble damages on the 
          landlord herein. Consequently, the Commissioner finds that the 
          issues raised herein and relating to the landlord's state of mind, 
          and its impact on the imposition of treble damages, are moot.

          The Commissioner also finds that whether or not the tenant's 
          actions upon leasing the apartment could in any way be construed as 
          evidencing her consent to the collection of the excess security, a 
          tenant may not waive a benefit provided under the Tenant Protection 
          Regulations (9NYCRR2500.12) except under limited circumstances 
          which do not apply here. 



          Adm. Review Docket No.: BC710377RO




          The Commissioner notes that the landlord has failed to provide a 
          copy of the alleged stipulation with the Attorney General. The 
          Commissioner further notes that in the absence of an allegation, 
          let alone proof, that the stipulation was binding on the tenant 
          and/or the Commissioner, the existence of any such stipulation is 
          of no consequence in this proceeding; especially since there no 
          longer is a viable treble damages issue herein. 

          As the Commissioner finds that the appealed order should be 
          modified to provide that the landlord be directed to refund the 
          excess security plus interest to the tenant, the landlord's 
          statement that he refunded said sum to the tenant after the 
          appealed order was issued provides no basis upon which to revoke 
          and/or further modify said order.


          THEREFORE, pursuant to all of the applicable statutes and 
          regulations, it is

          ORDERED, that this Petition be, and the same hereby is granted in 
          part and that the appealed order be, and the same hereby is, 
          modified in the manner and to the extent set forth herein; and that 
          as so modified said order be, and the same hereby is, affirmed.

          ISSUED:




                                                                  
                                          JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                          Deputy Commissioner

          1A2D3D2BC710377.RO    




    

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