FC 210225-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
                                
                                
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IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE     ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
APPEAL OF                               DOCKET NO.:
                                        FC 210225-RO
       L. ANDREW LEVINE,                DISTRICT RENT ADMIN.
                                        DOCKET NO.:
                        PETITIONER      CC-210280-R
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  ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
                                
                                
On  March  15,  1991,  the above named petitioner-owner  filed  a
petition  for  administrative review against an order  issued  on
February  11,  1991, by a Rent Administrator, concerning  housing
accommodations  known  as Apartment A-54 at  8829  Fort  Hamilton
Parkway,  Brooklyn, New York, wherein the District Rent  Adminis-
trator  determined  that the tenant had been overcharged  in  the
amount of $1,762.56, including treble damages.

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.

The   tenants  took  occupancy  pursuant  to  a  two-year   lease
commencing  April  1, 1987, and expiring March  31,  1989,  at  a
monthly rent of $550.00.

On  April  5,  1988  the owner was served  with  a  copy  of  the
complaint and was directed to submit a complete rent history from
the base date including copies of all leases.

On  September 8, 1988, the owner notified the Administrator  that
it had discovered an error, and had been overcharging the tenant.
The  owner  calculated a lawful rent of $515.44,  for  a  monthly
overcharge of $34.56.  The owner enclosed a copy of a  letter  to
the  complainant explaining the above, informing him of  the  new
rent  of $515.44, and that a check was enclosed in the amount  of
$622.08, representing total monthly overcharges (17) plus  excess
security (1) ($34.56 x 18 = $622.08).  The owner also submitted a
complete lease history with its answer.


In  Order  No.  CC  210280-R, issued on February  11,  1991,  the
Administrator determined that the tenant had been overcharged  in
the   amount   of  $1,762.56,  including  treble  damages.    The
Administrator  also  found  that a  total  of  $622.08  had  been
refunded, thus re-ducing the total amount due to $1,140.48.

In  its  petition,  the owner contends that  the  Administrator's
determination  to impose treble damages was improper,  since  the
owner  had  independently adjusted the rent to the lawful  amount
and  refunded all overcharges collected to date, all of which was
asserted and proven to the Administrator prior to the issuance of
the  order.  The owner then cited three previous opinions of  the
Commissioner  which held that no treble damages will  be  imposed
when  full  refunds are made to the tenant in the manner  of  the
instant  case. Enclosed with the petition is a copy of the  check
to the tenant for $622.08, indicating that the tenant cashed it.

The  Commissioner  is  of the opinion that the  owner's  petition
should be granted.

As  promulgated  in  Policy Statement 89-2,  the  Division  lists
certain  actions  by  an  owner, anyone of  which  is  deemed  to
establish a lack of willfulness in overcharges, thereby  removing
treble damages.  Of these, the second option is as follows:

          2.Where  an owner adjusts the rent on his  or  her
          own  within  the  time afforded  to  interpose  an
          answer to the proceeding and submits proof to  the
          DHCR  that he or she had tendered, in good  faith,
          to  the  tenant a full refund of all  excess  rent
          collected plus interest.
          
The  record in this case establishes that the owner had  notified
the  Administrator in September, 1988, that he was  independently
refunding all rent overcharges, and excess security to the tenant
upon discovering an error in calculating the tenant's lease rent.
The  Administrator's order, except in one respect,  is  in  total
agreement   with  the  owner's  position  since  the  amount   of
overcharges  is  exactly the same as the  amount  stated  in  the
owner's  letters, and the order gives full credit to  the  refund
that the owner returned to the tenant.

Therefore,  the  Commissioner  recognizes  that  the  owner   has
substantially  complied  with  all  requirements  for  the  above
exception  described  in  Policy Statement  89-2,  and,  is  thus
revoking the determination of treble damage.  The owner's failure
to  refund  all overcharges within twenty days of the service  of
the  complaint and to refund interest does not warrant a  finding
of willfulness given the owner's refund prior to the issuance of
the  Administrator's order and prior to the  issuance  of  Opera-
tional Bulletin 89-2.

The owner is directed to refund a total of $41.29 in interest for
the actual overcharges determined by the Administrator.


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

ORDERED, that the owner's petition be, and the same hereby is
granted;  and that the Administrator's order be, and the same
hereby is, revised in accordance with this Order and Opinion.


ISSUED:




ELLIOT SANDER
                                         Deputy Commissioner
    

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