FC 210375 RT

                                  STATE OF NEW YORK
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                               JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433

          APPEAL OF                             DOCKET NO. FC 210375 RT

                                              : DISTRICT RENT ADMINISTRATOR'S
               Hyacinth L. Williamson,          DOCKET NO. EK 210129 R
                                                TENANT: Lorraine Moody       
                                PETITIONER    : 

                                       IN PART

          On March 28, 1991, the above-named owner filed a petition for 
          administrative review of an order issued on March 5, 1991 by a 
          District Rent Administrator concerning the housing accommodations 
          known as 138 East 55th Street, Brooklyn, New York, Apartment No. 
          2R, wherein the Rent Administrator determined that the owner had 
          overcharged the tenant.

          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 commenced on October 31, 1990 by the filing of 
          an overcharge complaint.  The tenant stated that she was not 
          presented with any rent history of the subject apartment and that 
          the owner had not registered the subject premises for the years 
          1984 through 1989.

          In answer to the tenant's complaint, the owner stated, in 
          substance, that she had purchased the subject building in December 
          1986 and that she was unable to obtain any lease history from the 
          prior owner.  Further, the owner stated that she was unaware of the 
          registration requirements.

          In the order here under review, the Administrator found that the 
          owner had defaulted in her obligation to produce rent records from 
          April 1, 1980 and established the legal regulated rent at $482.46.  
          The Administrator also determined that the overcharges through 
          October 23, 1990 totalled $8,374.96 including treble damages and 
          excess security.

          FC 210375 RT

          In her petition for administrative review, the owner asserts that 
          no overcharges occurred.  The owner alleges that the tenant paid no 
          rent at all for a one year period preceding the tenant's filing of 
          the complaint, and that this tenant's "self-help" crediting of 
          rents due the owner resulted in no overcharges.  Further, the owner 
          is its petition asserts, in the alternative, that no treble damages 
          should have been assessed by the Administrator.  Finally, the owner 
          asserts that the Administrator erred in establishing the lawful 
          stabilization rent.  It is alleged that the Administrator could 
          examine the rental history of the subject apartment for only the 
          four years prior to the filing of the complaint.

          In a subsequent communication received from the tenant, she alleges 
          that the Administrator erred in the calculations.  She does not 
          address the owner's allegation that she had paid no rent for the 
          one year period preceding the filing of the complaint.  The 
          Commissioner afforded the tenant a second opportunity to address 
          the issue of her withholding of rent and again no response was 

          After careful consideration, the Commissioner is of the opinion 
          that this petition should be granted in part.

          As noted above, it is uncontested that the tenant paid no rent for 
          one year prior to the filing of her complaint.  It is also clear 
          that the amounts withheld by the tenant more than negated any 
          overcharges which had accrued.  Since this withholding of rent by 
          the tenant occurred prior to her filing of the complaint, these 
          amounts must be considered in this order and opinion.

          Accordingly, the Commissioner finds that the owner is not liable to 
          the tenant for any overcharges.   As a result of this finding, the 
          issue of treble damages need not be addressed.

          However, the Administrator correctly determined the lawful 
          stabilization rent for the subject apartment.  The owner alleges 
          that the Administrator could only examine the rental history for 
          four years prior to the filing of the complaint in accordance with 
          Section 2526.1(a)(2) of the Rent Stabilization Code.  This 
          allegation is without merit.  The owner had failed to register the 
          subject apartment unit in 1984, 1985 or 1986 and acknowledged in 
          her answer to the tenant's complaint that she was unaware of any 
          registration requirements.  In fact, DHCR records disclose that 
          registrations for all the subsequent years were not filed until 
          1990. Because the subject apartment was not registrated until 1990, 
          the Administrator correctly demanded the rental history of the 
          subject apartment from April 1, 1980.
          Further, the Administrator properly determined that a default had 
          occurred.  It is a long-standing DHCR policy that a new owner 
          "steps into the shoes" of the prior owner.  Upon purchasing a rent- 
          regulated property, the new owner knew or should have known of its 

          FC 210375 RT

          obligation to acquire a complete set of rental records.  Its 
          failure to do so is insufficient to avoid a finding of default.

          Accordingly, the Commissioner finds that the Administrator 
          correctly determined the lawful stabilization rent at $482.46 as of 
          October 23, 1990.

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

          ORDERED, that this petition for administrative review be, and the 
          same hereby is, granted in part, and, that the order of the  
          Administrator be modified in accordance with this order and 


                                          JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                          Acting Deputy Commissioner


          FC 210375 RT


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