Docket No.: FA 810091 RO
                                  STATE OF NEW YORK
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                               JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433

          APPEAL OF                              DOCKET NO.: FA 810091-RO
                                                 DOCKET NO.: YCF-8-1-0169-R

          On January 11, 1991,  the  above-named  petitioner-owner  filed  a
          Petition for Administrative Review  against  an  order  issued  on
          December 13, 1990, by the Rent Administrator of the  White  Plains
          District Rent Office, concerning the housing accommodations  known
          as 25 Overlook Terrace, Yonkers, New York, Apartment  5A,  wherein
          the Administrator determined the overcharge complaint filed by the 
          tenant in June 1988. 

          The Administrator's determination also reflected certain  findings
          of fact. 

          The Administrator found that while the  registered  rent  for  the
          previous  tenant  was  $375.00  in  1985,  prior  to  the  tenants
          occupancy, there was no record that the apartment  was  registered
          again until 1988, at which time the registered rent was listed  at

          The Administrator found no credible evidence that the  tenant  was
          permitted to pay a reduced rent of $300.00 in January  1986  based
          on a familial relationship.  The  Administrator  also  rejected  a
          purported "renewal lease" dated April 28, 1986 at a  monthly  rent
          of $440.00, submitted  by  the  owner,  because  it  contained  no
          effective date and was  inconsistent  on  its  face,  in  that  it
          indicated that it was offered to the tenant  in  August  1,  1986,
          although it was "signed" by the tenant on April 28, 1986.

          The Administrator concluded that no lease was given to the  tenant
          upon occupancy, that the tenant was not informed  that  the  legal
          rent for the subject apartment was in excess of the  rent  charged
          until 1988, and that therefore, the owner had  failed  to  reserve
          any right to collect a rent higher than that  charged  the  tenant
          during 1986 and 1987.  The  Administrator  established  the  legal
          regulated rent at $300.00 effective January 1, 1988 and at $327.00 
          effective July 1, 1988 through June 30, 1990, found an  overcharge
          for the period January 1988  through  July  1989,  and  ordered  a
          refund, including treble damages, in the amount of $7,785.00.
          On  appeal,  the  petitioner   argues   that   the   Administrator
          disregarded the rental history of the apartment for the period  in
          question,  failed  to  consider  rents  charged   for   comparable
          apartments, and failed to consider the owner's argument  that  the
          tenant, the tenant's son or someone else may have signed the April 

          Docket No.: FA 810091 RO

          1986 renewal lease (RTP-8), despite tenant's  contention  that  he
          never received or signed the RTP-8.

          The petitioner further avers registration forms were filed  timely
          and properly, and that the owner was  ready  to  submit  proof  of
          service on the tenant but was never requested to do so below.

          The applicable law is Section  2506.1  of  the  Tenant  Protection

          After careful consideration the Commissioner  is  of  the  opinion
          that the petition should be denied.

          The owner's claim that the tenant was given a preferential rent in 
          1986, even if correct, cannot be  used  as  a  basis  to  set  the
          initial regulated rent at a  rate  other  than  that  charged  and
          collected.  There is nothing in the  Emergency  Tenant  Protection
          Act or Tenant Protection Regulations that prohibit an  owner  from
          charging less than the maximum permissible rent; and once an owner 
          does so, the actual charged became  the  lawful  stabilized  rent.
          While the Division permits the owner to  base  future  rent  on  a
          higher rent where it has been determined that a "sweetheart  rent"
          lower than the legal rent was charged based  upon  some  incentive
          provided by the tenant, the record does not reflect  the  presence
          of such inducement.  In fact, the record presented  by  the  owner
          reflects a constant dispute between the parties with regard to the 
          rent charged and the rent collected.  In light of the  apartment's
          rental  history,  the  rents  for   comparable   apartments   were
          irrelevant to these proceedings.

          As regards to the purported April  1986,  RTP-8  "lease  renewal",
          submitted by the owner, the  Commissioner  notes  that  the  owner
          prepared and served the form on the tenant for his signature.   If
          the owner believed that there were irregularities in the  tenant's
          signature, it was incumbent upon the owner to  take  prompt  legal
          action to compel the tenant to correct any irregularities.  As the 
          owner both prepared the  form  and  submitted  the  evidence,  the
          unexplained inconsistencies, apparent on the face  of  the  RTP-8,
          were properly construed against the owner.

          The Commissioner similarly rejects the petitioner's assertion that 
          it d d  not  have  the  opportunity  to  submit  proof   of   non-
          registration  for  the  period  from  1985  to  1988,  which   the
          petitioner claim to have  in  his  record.   In  fact  the  record
          reveals that registration records were submitted below and at  PAR
          for the subject apartment, and other  apartments  in  the  subject
          premises, but did not include rent registrations for  the  1986  -
          1987 period for the subject apartment.


          Docket No.: FA 810091 RO

          The Commissioner notes and rejects the petitioner's argument  that
          the overcharges were neither willful or  negligent,  arguing  that
          the fact that the case took over one and a half (1-1/2)  years  to
          decide verifies the difficulty encountered to determine the  legal

          The Tenant Protection Regulations assesses  treble  damages  where
          the overcharge is willful or negligent.  It is the burden  of  the
          owner to overcome the presumption of willful or negligent conduct. 
          The owner's admission that it attempted to impose a rent at a rate 
          higher than  that  initially  charged  and  collected  reflects  a
          knowing attempt to collect excess rent in  violation  of  Division
          policy  that  once  an  owner  charges  less  than   the   maximum
          permissible rent, the  actual  rent  charged  becomes  the  lawful
          stabilized rent.  The time lag between the time the  tenant  filed
          the complaint and the date of the Administrator's order, reflects, 
          among  other  items,  the  owner's   failure   to   establish   by
          documentation that it complied with  the  applicable  regulations,
          requiring the Administrator to establish  the  relevant  facts  by
          testimony at a hearing.

          THEREFORE, in accordance with the  Tenant  Protection  Regulations
          and the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974, it is

          ORDERED, that this petition be, and the  same  hereby  is,  denied
          and that the District Rent Administrator's order be, and the  same
          hereby is, affirmed.


                                          ELLIOT SANDER
                                          Deputy Commissioner


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