Docket No.: CC-410055-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
        APPEAL OF                              DOCKET NO.: CC 410055-RT
                                            :  
             MELVYN L. MEER,                   DRO DOCKET NO.: L 3114599-R  

                              PETITIONER    :  
        ------------------------------------X                           
          
            ORDER AND OPINION MODIFYING COMMISSIONER'S PRIOR ORDER AND
                           OPINION AFTER RECONSIDERATION

        This proceeding was originally commenced by the  filing  of  a  rent
        overcharge complaint by the tenant concerning housing accommodations 
        known as apartment 17-H at 201 E. 19th Street, New  York,  NY.   The
        tenant took occupancy pursuant to a lease commencing October 1, 1977 
        and expiring September 30, 1979 at a monthly rent of $525.00.
         
        In Order Number CDR 32,540 issued on February 1, 1988, the  District
        Rent Administrator established the lawful stabilized rent  based  on
        the managing agent's failure to provide a complete  rental  history,
        determined that the tenant had been overcharged  in  the  amount  of
        $10,669.19 and directed the refund of such  amount  to  the  tenant.
                                                                         
        Both  the  managing  agent  and  the  tenant  filed  petitions   for
        administrative review of the Administrator's order.  

        In  his  petition,  the  tenant  asserted  that  the  District  Rent
        Administrator's order contained no determination that the overcharge 
        was not willful  and  therefore  treble  damages  should  have  been
        awarded.

        In answer to the petition, the  managing  agent  asserted  that,  as
        indicated in the April 1977 rent  roll  submitted  by  the  managing
        agent with its answer, the complainant  tenant's  initial  rent  was
        less than the last rent charged the prior tenant and that there  was
        no willful overcharge, or any overcharge.

        In  reply,  the  tenant  asserted,  among  other  things,  that  any
        challenge to the original order by the managing agent must be deemed 
        untimely and new evidence may not be  considered  on  administrative
        appeal.

        In a supplement to its answer to the tenant's petition, the managing 
        agent contended that the Administrator properly determined that  the
        overcharge was not willful and that the imposition of treble damages 
        was not warranted.  The managing agent asserted that it  was  unable
        to produce a complete rent history from June 30, 1974 because it did 
        not receive such documentation when it took over management  of  the
        building.  The managing agent further asserted that the tenant filed 
        two overcharge complaints with the  CAB  (Conciliation  and  Appeals
        Board) under Docket Numbers  TC-24736-G  and  TC-25917-G,  that  the
        determinations in these  earlier  proceedings  are  binding  on  the






          Docket No.: CC-410055-RT
        Administrator, and that the records in those proceedings  contain  a
        full rent history for the subject apartment.  With  its  answer  the
        managing agent submitted letters to the CAB from the prior  managing
        agent dated June 16, 1978 and July 17, 1978 reciting the  full  rent
        history for the subject apartment, a letter  to  the  CAB  from  the
        prior managing agent dated September 5, 1979 reciting new  equipment
        installed in the subject apartment and invoices and cancelled checks 
        for these items, and a letter to the CAB  from  the  prior  managing
        agent dated July 7, 1978 referring to two major capital  improvement
        rent increases.

        By subsequent correspondence, the managing agent submitted a  letter
        to the CAB from the tenant dated  October  28,  1978  in  which  the
        tenant asserted that the rent records of the  prior  managing  agent
        for October 1973 and October  1974  reflect  that  the  relationship
        between the prior tenant and the owner was not at arm's length.  The 
        managing agent also cited the case of JRD Management, which  limited
        the requirement for rent records to 4 years.

        By notices dated August 23, 1990, both the managing agent and tenant 
        were requested to submit copies of such orders.  The tenant did  not
        respond to this notice.  The managing  agent  responded  by  stating
        that it was unable to comply with the request.

        In an order issued on November 2, 1990, the  Commissioner  dismissed
        the owner's petition for administrative review  as  untimely  filed.
        The Commissioner found that a diligent search of the DHCR's  records
        had failed to locate the earlier overcharge complaints filed by  the
        tenant with the CAB, that the parties had failed to submit copies of 
        orders from those cases, and therefore those prior cases  could  not
        be used as  a  basis  for  the  Commissioner's  determination.   The
        Commissioner found that the fact that the current managing agent was 
        unable to obtain rent records from the prior managing agent did  not
        negate the owner's obligation under  Section  42A  of  the  Code  to
        provide a complete rental history for the subject apartment from the 
        base date; that the managing agent could not submit  rental  history
        documentation for the first time in answer to the tenant's  petition
        for administrative review; and that since the managing agent  failed
        to file a timely petition for administrative  review,  the  managing
        agent could not raise a challenge to the  Administrator's  order  in
        answer to the tenant's petition.  The Commissioner  noted  that  the
        decision by the Appellate Division First Department in the  case  of
        Lavanant v. DHCR, 148 A.D.2d 185, 544 N.Y.S. 2d 331 (App.  Div.  1st
        Dep't 1989), finding that the DHCR may require an  owner  to  submit
        complete rent records, rather than records for just four  years,  is
        applicable in this case.  The Commissioner further  found  that  the
        managing agent had failed to establish by a preponderance of the 






          Docket No.: CC-410055-RT
        evidence that the overcharge was  not  willful  and  imposed  treble
        damages, resulting in a total overcharge amount of $15,841.72.

        By letter dated November  7,  1990,  the  managing  agent  requested
        reopening   of   the   proceeding   and   reconsideration   of   the
        Commissioner's order, asserting that the Commissioner had failed  to
        consider  the  full  rental  history  available  in  the  prior  CAB
        proceedings which indicates that the tenant was not overcharged.

        By order issued on December 3, 1990, the Commissioner found that the 
        rental history was available in the record contained in the  current
        and prior proceedings instituted by the  tenant.   The  Commissioner
        reopened the proceeding due to irregularities in vital  matters  and
        determined that the matter should be reconsidered on  the  basis  of
        the tenant's petition, the owner's answer thereto, together with the 
        evidence presented in the request for reconsideration  and  relevant
        comments received in reply thereto.

        A hearing was  held  on  February  24,  1991  at  which  the  tenant
        testified that he did not recall  filing  any  overcharge  complaint
        with the CAB, and that he had no knowledge of the rental history  of
        his apartment.

        By  subsequent  correspondence,   the   owner   asserted   that   on
        reconsideration the rental history  should  be  considered  and  the
        lawful stabilized rent should be determined.

        By  subsequent  correspondence,  the   tenant   asserted   that   on
        reconsideration  only  the  issue  of  treble  damages   should   be
        considered.

        Additional efforts have been made by the DHCR to locate the tenant's 
        CAB overcharge complaint files.   DHCR  records  indicate  that  the
        files are in the Iron Mountain storage  facility  in  Rosedale,  New
        York.  While the correct storage box was located in  that  facility,
        the  files  were  not  in  the  box.   Those  files  are   therefore
        unavailable.

        The documentation from the prior CAB proceedings  submitted  by  the
        managing agent includes a letter dated June 16, 1978 from the  prior
        managing agent, Charles Greenthal,  to  the  CAB  which  states,  in
        pertinent part, "Lease was renewed for 1  year  period  to  1974  at
        $389.21.  Another CAB order, December 1, 1973, increased that rental 
        to $389.65.  A new tenant, Columbus Hospital, Inc.,  took  occupancy
        on October 1, 1974 for a two year period at $500.00.  That lease was 
        renewed for one year through September 30, 1977 at $632.50.  Then we 
        come to the next  lease  which  was  to  Mr.  Meer."   The  tenant's
        statement in his complaint corroborates the prior  managing  agent's
        statements in this letter.  In  his  complaint  the  tenant  stated,
        "Rent records show that rent  jumped  by  an  illegal  amount  (from
        $389.21  to  $500.00)  between  October  1973  and   October   1974.
        Consequently, all changes since have been  overcharges.   Basis  are
        print-outs of Rent History." 
         
        While the tenant denies any knowledge of prior overcharge complaints 
        filed with the CAB, the record indicates that such cases were filed. 
        Those cases constitute part of the  record  in  this  case.   While,
        after a diligent search, the files in  those  cases  have  not  been
        located, the rental information which was submitted in  those  cases






          Docket No.: CC-410055-RT
        is available.  It can be assumed that due process  was  followed  in
        the processing of these cases and that the tenant was on  notice  of
        rental history submissions in  those  cases  (as  evidenced  by  the
        tenant's statements in those  proceedings).   Therefore  the  rental
        history information will be used to determine  the  tenant's  lawful
        stabilized rent.

        The  rental  history  includes  documentation   of   the   following
        improvements to the subject apartment at the time  the  tenant  took
        occupancy:  12 windows at a cost of $2,100.00, and a stove at a cost 
        of $164.70.   The  other  items  cited  either  constitute  ordinary
        repairs or maintenance or were not installed at the time the  tenant
        took occupancy.  Pursuant to Section 20(c)(1) of the Code, the owner 
        is entitled to an increase of 1/40th of the cost  of  the  allowable
        improvements.  As noted on the attached chart, where the actual rent 
        charged is less than the rent with maximum permitted increases,  the
        lawful stabilization rent is limited to the rent charged.

        The lawful stabilized rent is recalculated on  the  attached  chart,
        which if fully made a part of  this  order.   As  indicated  on  the
        attached chart, the tenant was not overcharged.

        Any arrears owed by the tenant as a result of this order may be paid 
        by the tenant to the owner in equal monthly  installments  over  the
        course of the next 24 months.

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

        ORDERED, that the Commissioner's  prior  order  and  opinion  issued
        November 2, 1990 be and the same hereby is modified  to  the  extent
        hereinabove indicated, the District Rent  Administrator's  order  be
        and the same hereby is revoked and it is determined that the  tenant
        was not overcharged.

        ISSUED:




                                                                      
                                        ELLIOT SANDER
                                        Deputy Commissioner
         
    

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