ADM. REVIEW DOCKET NO.: EK 110319 RO

                                  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.:  EK  110319  RO
                                                 D.R.O. DOCKET NO.:     
                                              :         ZBI         110437-R
                    TITO D'URSO,                       
                                               PET

                                              
                                 PETITIONER   :  
          ------------------------------------X 

            ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
              IN PART AND MODIFYING DISTRICT RENT ADMINISTRATOR'S ORDER

               On November 16, 1990, the above-named petitioner-Owner timely 
          refiled a Petition for Administrative Review of  an  order  issued
          on August 29, 1990, by  the  District  Rent  Administrator,  92-31
          Union  Hall  Street,  Jamaica,  New   York,   concerning   housing
          accommodations known as Apartment  No.  2  located  at  23-22/31st
          Avenue, Astoria, New York, wherein the District Rent Administrator 
          determined that the tenant had been overcharged. 

               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 by the filing  of  a
          rent  overcharge  complaint  by  the  tenant.   The  tenant   took
          occupancy pursuant to a lease commencing May 1, 1982 and  expiring
          April 30, 1984 at a monthly rent of $325.00. 

               The owner was served with a copy of  the  complaint  and  was
          requested to submit rent records to prove the  lawfulness  of  the
          rent being  charged.   The  owner  submitted  the  requested  rent
          records, and stated that after the tenant vacated  the  apartment,
          complete  remodeling,  including  new  bathroom,  kitchen,  stove,
          refrigerator, painting and cleaning were done.  

               By order dated August 29, 1990 under Docket No. ZBI 110437-R, 
          the District Rent Administrator determined  that  the  tenant  had
          been overcharged in the  amount  of  $3,683.51,  including  treble
          damages and excess security, to the tenant.  The Administrator did 
          not allow an increase for the lease commencing May 1,  1986  based
          on the owner's failure to file a 1985  registration,  and  further
          did not allow guidelines increases from May 1, 1987 based on  rent
          reduction order Docket No. BA 110391 S.   



               In this petition, the owner contends that the  District  Rent
          Administrator's order should be reversed, because a)  no  evidence






          ADM. REVIEW DOCKET NO.: EK 110319 RO
          has been presented of unlawful or intentional misconduct; (b) the
          increase paid by the tenant was based  on  lawful  rent  guideline
          increases from May 1, 1984 to May 1, 1988,  and  on  improvements;
          and (c) if any overcharge is found, it was unintended or an error.

               In answer to this petition,  the  tenant,  by  its  attorney,
          contends that the order should be upheld  because  the  owner  was
          precluded from collecting lawful rent increases because he  failed
          to register the apartment for 1985; that failure to  register  the
          apartment in light of the registration requirement must be  deemed
          willful; that the DHCR Commissioner's post-90  day  determinations
          are in contravention of Chapter 102 of the Laws of 1984.     

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

               Section 2528.4 of the Rent Stabilization Code  provides  that
          the failure to timely comply with  the  annual  rent  registration
          shall until such registration is  completed,  bar  an  owner  from
          collecting any rent in excess  of  the  legal  regulated  rent  in
          effect on April 1st of the year for which an  annual  registration
          was required to be filed.  The late filing of a registration shall 
          result in the elimination, prospectively, of such penalty.   

               The Commissioner finds that pursuant to Section 2528.4 of the 
          Code, based on the owner's failure to file  a  1985  registration,
          the owner was not permitted to collect the increase for the  lease
          that commenced May 1, 1986 until the 1986 registration was  filed,
          on September 29, 1986.   

               The Commissioner further finds that based on  rent  reduction
          order No. ZBA-110391-S  effective  March  1,  1987  and  still  in
          effect, no guidelines increase is allowed  for  the  lease  period
          commencing May 1, 1988.   

               Section 2526.1 of the Rent Stabilization  Code  provides,  in
          pertinent part:  "Any owner who is found  by  the  DHCR,  after  a
          reasonable opportunity to be heard, to have collected any rent  or
          other consideration in excess of the legal regulated rent shall be 
          ordered to pay to the tenant a penalty equal to  three  times  the
          amount  of  such  excess  ....  If  the  owner  establishes  by  a
          preponderance of the evidence that the overcharge was not willful, 
          the DHCR  shall  establish  the  penalty  as  the  amount  of  the
          overcharge plus interest from the date of the first overcharge  on
          or after April 1, 1984...."  

               Regarding the owner's assertion of  a  lack  of  willfulness:
          the Commissioner finds that the overcharge resulting from  failure
          to  register  constitutes  a  willful  overcharge  warranting  the
          imposition of treble damages from May 1,  1986  to  September  29,
          1986,when the registration was filed.  However, treble damages  do
          not lie when excess rent is collected prior to the issuance of a 


          rent reduction order with a  retroactive  effective  date.  There-
          fore, interest, rather than treble damages, will be imposed from 
          March 1, 1987 through August 1, 1987, the period of retroactive   
          rent reduction pursuant to Order # ZBA-110391-S.   Treble  damages
          are assessed thereafter.






          ADM. REVIEW DOCKET NO.: EK 110319 RO

               The Commissioner finds that any improvements to the  premises
          subsequent to the tenant's vacating said premises are not material 
          to the instant proceeding. 

               The above findings are reflected in the  revised  computation
          of overcharges attached and made a part hereof.  The total  amount
          of overcharges is $1,906.66.  

               The Commissioner notes that while Chapter 102 of the Laws  of
          1984 indicates that a PAR which was not decided within 90 days  of
          having been filed may  be  deemed  denied,  there  is  nothing  to
          prevent the Commissioner from determining a PAR after such 90 days 
          or extended period.

               Because this determination concerns lawful rents only through 
          April 30, 1989, 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.

               This order shall be deemed  a  final  determination  for  the
          purposes of judicial review.  This order may, upon the  expiration
          of the period for seeking review pursuant to Article Seventy-Eight 
          of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, be docketed and  enforced  in
          the manner of a judgment of the Supreme Court.

               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 the extent hereinabove indicated. 

          ISSUED:







                                                                        
                                          ELLIOT SANDER
                                          Deputy Commissioner



                                          














          ADM. REVIEW DOCKET NO.: EK 110319 RO






















    

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