Docket Number: EH 410162-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 :  SJR 5674 (Deemed Denial)
        APPEAL OF                              ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
                                               DOCKET  NO.:   EH   410162-RT
                DEIDRE ASKA,                :  
                                               DRO DOCKET NO.:  ZBK-410616-R
                                                       
                              PETITIONER    :  OWNER: DULEFF REALTY CO.INC.
        ------------------------------------X                           
          
                 ORDER AND OPINION REMANDING PROCEEDING ON APPEAL

        On August 10,  1990,  the  above  named  petitioner-tenant  filed  a
        Petition for Administrative Review against an order issued  on  July
        6, 1990 by the Rent Administrator, 92-31 Union Hall Street, Jamaica, 
        New York concerning the housing accommodations known as Apartment 7R 
        at 20 East  67th  Street,  New  York,  New  York  wherein  the  Rent
        Administrator determined that the  owner  had  not  overcharged  the
        tenant.  

        Subsequent thereto, the petitioner-tenant filed a  petition  in  the
        Supreme Court pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice  Law  and
        Rules requesting that  the  "deemed  denial"  of  her  Petition  for
        Administrative Review be annulled.  The proceeding was  remitted  to
        the DHCR, and the tenant's petition is herein decided on the merits. 

        The issue in this appeal is whether the Rent  Administrator's  order
        was warranted.

        The applicable sections of the Law are Section 26-517(c) of the Rent 
        Stabilization Law and Sections 2521.1, 2522.3(a), 2523.1 and  2528.2
        of the Rent Stabilization Code.

        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 by the filing in  November,
        1987 of a rent overcharge complaint by  the  tenant,  in  which  she
        stated that she had commenced occupancy on June 1, 1985 at a rent of 
        $1,900.00 per month.  She also  claimed  that  the  purported  prior
        tenant was actually a real estate broker with  a  primary  residence
        elsewhere; that a business associate of the tenant's husband claimed 
        to have been offered $5,000.00 to sign on to the lease;  that  other
        tenants in the building claimed that no one had lived in the subject 








        Docket Number: EH 410162-RT

        apartment after the rent-controlled tenants died; that she wrote the 
        DHCR in 1985 to get copies of the rent registrations; that  she  was
        informed that  it  had  never  been  registered;  and  that  she  is
        apparently the first rent stabilized tenant.

        In answer,  the  owner  contended  in  substance  that  the  subject
        apartment was vacant on April 1,  1984  due  to  the  death  of  the
        tenant; that  the  apartment  was  rented  to  Gary  D.,  the  first
        stabilized tenant, on or about  December  1,  1984,  at  a  rent  of
        $2,100.00; that he paid that rent  until  he  terminated  the  lease
        several months later; that he was served with the 1984 registration; 
        that the apartment was vacant on April 1, 1985 and  duly  registered
        as such; that the complainant commenced occupancy in May, 1985; that 
        she did not file an overcharge complaint until  November  30,  1987;
        that she is time-barred from filing a fair market rent appeal as she 
        did not do so within 90 days after the initial registration or  even
        within 90 days of receiving the 1986  registrations;  and  that  the
        allegation that a business associate  of  her  husband  was  offered
        $5,000.00 to sign onto the lease  was  both  irrelevant  and  false.
        With its answer the owner enclosed a copy of  a  registration  dated
        December 14, 1984 showing Gary  D.  as  having  a  lease  commencing
        December 1, 1984 for $2,100.00 per month, and a certification by the 
        Rent Stabilization Association that it had mailed  the  RR-1  tenant
        notification forms on July 21, 1984.  (The registration was  Exhibit
        A in one copy of the answer, and the certification was Exhibit A  in
        the other copy, although the owner apparently meant to enclose  both
        pages with both answers.)  The owner did not enclose a copy of  Gary
        D.'s lease, although claiming to do so.

        On July 6, 1990, the Rent Administrator issued an order  finding  no
        overcharge, on the basis that the owner had registered that April 1, 
        1984 rent of $2,100.00 and served the first stabilized tenant with a 
        copy of the Apartment Registration Form as required,  and  that  the
        complainant's  current  rent  of  $2,071.00  represented  a   lawful
        increase over the Initial Legal Registered Rent of $1,900.00.

        In  this  petition,  the  tenant  contends  in  substance  that  her
        overcharge  complaint  made  sufficiently   clear   that   she   was
        questioning whether she was the first stabilized tenant, and whether 
        there had actually been an alleged former stabilized tenant who  had
        been properly served with the Initial Apartment  Registration;  that
        an investigation should have been made; that the copy of the owner's 
        answer sent to the tenant by the DHCR did not  contain  the  alleged
        1984 registration nor the alleged certificate of mailing;  that  she
        has spoken to 4 tenants in the 12-unit building; that none  of  them
        recall anyone residing in the subject apartment  before  her,  other
        than  the  rent-controlled  tenant;  that  she  will  submit   their
        statements in a later supplement; that no one resided in the subject 
        apartment on the date the RR-1 form was allegedly served;  that  the
        90-day period to file a fair market rent appeal has never started to 
        run; that even if the occupancy of Gary D. could be established,  he
        was a real estate agent who may have colluded with the owner to 







        Docket Number: EH 410162-RT

        establish a stabilized rent which could not be challenged;  that  he
        could therefore not be considered to have been a legitimate 
        stabilized tenant with a right to file a challenge  to  the  initial
        registration; that even if he actually occupied the apartment it  is
        unclear if he remained in occupancy for the required 90  days  after
        receiving the RR-1 form; that the owner admittedly did not not serve 
        the initial apartment registration by certified mail as required  by
        Section 2523.1 of the Rent Stabilization Code; and  that  the  owner
        did not file the required copy of the RR-1 form with  the  DHCR,  as
        evidenced by a computer printout from the DHCR Registration Unit.  
        With her petition the tenant has enclosed a  November  27th  [1987?]
        DHCR computer printout showing that the subject  apartment  had  not
        been registered for 1984 as of that time, a February 18, 1986 letter 
        from the Special Services Coordinator of the DHCR's Office  of  Rent
        Administration advising that the apartment had not been  registered,
        and a photograph of a professionally-printed "Store For  Rent"  sign
        listing Gary D. as the person to contact.

        In answer, the owner asserts in substance that the tenant's petition 
        is untimely; that the tenant has neither verified nor  affirmed  her
        petition as required; that the tenant did not date or swear  to  the
        petition on a date certain as required; that the  tenant's  original
        complaint was untimely; and  that  the  owner  should  be  given  an
        opportunity to respond to the substance of the tenant's petition  if
        it is determined that the tenant's petition was not time-barred.

        The tenant subsequently sent a copy of  a  mailing  receipt  showing
        that her petition was timely.  A copy of this was sent to the  owner
        on November  16,  1990,  but  the  owner  has  not  made  any  later
        submissions.

        The Commissioner is of the opinion that this  proceeding  should  be
        remanded to the Rent Administrator.

        Section 2522.3 of the Rent Stabilization Code provides for an appeal 
        of the Initial Legal Regulated Rent in a Fair  Market  Rent  Appeal.
        The right to make a Fair Market  Rent  Appeal  is  limited,  in  the
        situation (such as  the  present  one)  where  there  were  no  rent
        stabilized tenancies prior to April 1, 1984, to the first tenant  to
        be properly served with an apartment registration (Form RR-1).   The
        Administrator did not treat the complainant's complaint  as  a  Fair
        Market Rent Appeal, since the owner had claimed  that  she  was  the
        second stabilized tenant and that the first  stabilized  tenant  had
        been  properly  served.   However,  the  record  did   not   contain
        sufficient evidence that the alleged initial stabilized  tenant  had
        been  properly  served  in  such  a  manner  as  to  cut   off   the
        complainant's  right  to  file  a  Fair  Market  Rent  Appeal.   The
        certification by the Rent  Stabilization  Association  that  it  had
        mailed RR-1 forms to tenants on July 21, 1984 did not  prove  proper
        service since there was  no  apartment  list  on  the  certification
        enclosed by the owner, and because such July 21, 1984 mailing  could
        not have gone to a tenant whose purported tenancy did  not  commence
        until December 1st and where the owner did not even  date  the  RR-1
        form until December 14th.  In addition, the owner did not submit a 







        Docket Number: EH 410162-RT

        lease for Gary D.  although  claiming  to  do  so,  and  the  tenant
        questioned whether there  had  been  a  legitimate  tenancy.   These
        factors necessitate an inquiry into the factual question of  whether
        there was a properly-served legitimate  initial  stabilized  tenant,
        since the evidence  in  the  record  does  not  show  that  an  RR-1
        Registration was served on any prior tenant in a manner effective to 
        commence the running of the 90-day period during  which  to  file  a
        fair market rent  appeal.   Because  the  tenant  herein  was  never
        notified that she was entitled to file a fair  market  rent  appeal,
        the 90-day period has never started running for her either.  It does 
        not matter that she might have been served with annual  registration
        statements since she would have had no reason, and no right, to file 
        a fair market rent appeal if there had been, as implicitly claimed 
        by the owner on the 1985 registration (possibly) sent to the tenant, 
        a  properly-served  legitimate  initial  stabilized   tenant.    The
        tenant's complaint that her initial rent was in excess of the lawful 
        stabilized rent is therefore in essence a fair market  rent  appeal,
        and this proceeding is being remanded for processing as such.

        Upon remand an inquiry  should  also  be  made  into  the  purported
        tenancy of Gary D.  If it is found that the  owner  colluded  in  an
        illusory tenancy in an attempt to evade the Rent  Stabilization  Law
        and Code, appropriate penalties should be imposed.  

        While the owner is correct that the tenant was required to verify or 
        affirm her petition, she did sign it, and the fact that she did  not
        check either the "Verification" or "Affirmation" boxes  means  that,
        absent a notary's signature, she is considered to have affirmed  her
        petition.  While Section 2529.3 of the Code requires that a petition 
        be verified or affirmed, it does not require that it be dated.   The
        lack of a date is not a fatal defect, particularly since the  tenant
        submitted proof that the petition was timely filed.

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

        ORDERED, that this petition be, and the same hereby is,  granted  to
        the extent of remanding this proceeding to  the  Rent  Administrator
        for further processing in accordance with this Order and Opinion.

        ISSUED:

                                         

                                                                      
                                        ELLIOT SANDER
                                        Deputy Commissioner
    

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