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STATE OF NEW YORK
DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL
OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
92-31 UNION HALL STREET
JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433
IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
APPEAL OF DOCKET NO.: DD 610221 RO
DRO DOCKET NO.: AG 610536 R
TENANT: CHRISTOPHER LAIDLAW
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
On April 13, 1989 the above-named petitioner filed a Petition for
Administrative Review against an order issued on March 28, 1989, by
a Rent Administrator, concerning the housing accommodations known
as 2444 Marion Avenue, Bronx, New York, Apartment 4F, wherein the
Rent Administrator determined that the owner had overcharged the
The issue herein is whether the Rent Administrator's order was
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.
This proceeding was originally commenced on July 18, 1986 by the
filing of a rent overcharge complaint by the tenant. The complaint
was served on the former owner who responded that it had since sold
the building; and stated that the new owner was Marion Avenue
Associates, which was managed by Artha Management, who is the
petitioner in this proceeding. Subsequently a copy of the
complaint as well as all other documents were sent to the current
In response to a DHCR notice informing the owner of the possibility
of treble damages, the current owner replied that since the
overcharges occurred in June, 1985 and were entirely due to the
actions of the former owner, it was unjust to penalize him with
treble damages. The owner stated that it was willing to correct
the overcharges caused by the former owner, but that to impose
treble damages without proof of its own willfulness was improper.
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In Order Number AG 610536-R, the Rent Administrator determined that
the tenant had been overcharged in the amount of $19,033.84,
including treble damages, and directed the owner to refund such
overcharge to the tenant.
In this petition, the owner claims that the treble damages penalty
is unjust because, "in a small way", the owner was as much a victim
of the former owner as the tenant. The petitioner claims that it
was never informed of the instant proceeding by the former owner
and that it did not willfully overcharge the tenant.
The petitioner, who in this case is the managing agent and is thus
equally liable with the owner, disavows any connection with the
actions of the former owner and, while conceding that the tenant is
entitled to a full refund, believes it is unjust to be penalized as
if it had actually intended to overcharge.
The tenant did not answer the petition.
The Commissioner is of the considered opinion that this petition
should be denied.
Section 26-516 of the Rent Stabilization Law provides that any
owner who is found by the DHCR to have collected an overcharge
shall be liable to the tenant for treble damages unless the owner
establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the overcharge
was not willful, in which case interest shall be imposed. Section
26-516 also provides that treble damages shall be applied only to
overcharges occurring on or after April 1, 1984.
In the instant case, the current owner was apprised of this
proceeding by the Administrator prior to the issuance of the order,
as well as the possibility of treble damages, yet submitted no
evidence to refute the presumption that the overcharges were
The owner has failed to document that it ceased collection of the
overcharges or made a refund to the tenant after being notified of
the tenant's complaint. Although the owner claims otherwise, the
record offers simply no evidence to show that the treble damages
penalty was improper.
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 or not in excess of twenty
percent thereof per month may be offset against any rent thereafter
due the owner.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the Rent Stabilization Law and Code,
ORDERED, that the owner's petition be, and the same hereby is,
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denied, and that the Administrator's order be, and the same hereby
JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
Acting Deputy Commissioner