DOCKET NO.: SJR 6784, FF410070RO
                                    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 6784
          APPEAL OF                                ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW    
                                              :    DOCKET NO.: FF410070RO
                    BENJAMIN TUCKER               
                                              :    DISTRICT RENT OFFICE
                                                   DOCKET NO.: CK410436R    
                                             
                                              :    TENANT: ROBIN McKAY

                         PETITIONER
          ------------------------------------X


           ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PETITION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW 
                                       IN PART

               On June 7, 1991, the above-named owner filed a Petition for 
          Administrative Review against an order of a Rent Administrator,
          dated May 10, 1991, in which the Administrator determined that the 
          owner of the housing accommodations known as apartment 49 at 320 
          Manhattan Avenue, New York City, had overcharged the tenant 
          thereof.  

               Subsequently the owner petitioned the Supreme Court, pursuant 
          to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, to mandate this 
          Division to make an expeditious determination of the administrative 
          appeal, and pursuant to stipulation the court has issued such a 
          mandate.  

               The proceeding originated with a 1988 Tenant's Complaint of 
          Rent Overcharge and/or Excess Security Deposit.  The envelope in 
          which that complaint was mailed to the owner was returned to the 
          DHCR marked "insufficient address."

               The ensuing order, here appealed, states inter alia: that one 
          Paul Hoskins resided in the subject accommodations from March, 
          1985, through the end of that year; that the lawful rent must be 
          "frozen" at $429.41 from April 1, 1987, to the end of the period 
          covered by the order, due to the owner's failure to register in 
          1987 (notwithstanding the fact that a "rent of $449.57 was 
          previously set under docket number ZAD510512R"); and that, because 
















          DOCKET NO.: SJR 6784, FF410070RO

          the evidence shows the overcharge herein to have been willful, 
          treble damages would be imposed.  A total overcharge including 
          treble damages of $32,568.56 was found for the period from 
          January 1, 1988 to May 31, 1991.

               The instant petition attacks that order as follows.  (1) The 
          owner's name thereon should be "Tucker Associates."  (2)  "Our 
          records indicate that the tenant . . . never filed an overcharge 
          complaint.  The former tenant . . . McKnight, apparently filed one 
          against the former owner under Docket No. AD510512-R. * * *  As the 
          present tenant never filed an overcharge complaint, one cannot be 
          awarded to her under a docket number never served upon this 
          landlord."  (3) The prior owner represented to the owner, in 
          writing, that the rents in the building were lawful.  Petitioner 
          therefore "cannot be guilty of any overcharge as it did not set an 
          improper rent and certainly cannot be said to be willful."  (4) 
          "Paul Hoskins, the president of the former owner, was also a tenant 
          at the premises as found by the DHCR."  The first rent charged 
          after that "owner's vacatur" was properly determined as the market 
          rent and the first tenant after the owner's departure did not file 
          a fair market rent appeal.  5) The owner did register for 1987, so 
          that the Administrator erred in freezing the rent.  (6) A Housing- 
          Court stipulation between the parties, dated June 14, 1989 ( a copy 
          of which is enclosed with the PAR), gave the tenant a $150 rental 
          credit, for which "landlord must be given credit" now.  (7) The 
          order states that a rent of $449.57 was set in the prior docket 
          AD510512R so that the Rent Administrator herein erred in 
          determining a lawful stabilization rent lower than that.  

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

               Both the record herein and other DHCR records show clearly 
          that the petitioner was a managing agent for Tucker Associates at 
          all relevant times.  He signed this PAR, moreover, as "partner."  
          The Rent Stabilization Code includes in its definition of "owner," 
          an "agent" of a fee owner.  Because both a managing agent and a 
          partner are agents of an owner/partnership, the Administrator did 
          not err in using petitioner's name in the caption.

               Because the record supports the contention that the owner was 
          not originally served with the tenant's complaint, the Commissioner 
          has caused such service to be made, allowing petitioner adequate 
          time for any additional response regarding the issues herein.  
          (Petitioner has made no additional submission.)




               The fact that the prior owner represented in writing that the 
          rent was lawful may give the owner rights enforceable in court 
          against that prior owner, but cannot excuse the current owner from 






          DOCKET NO.: SJR 6784, FF410070RO

          its obligation to refund the instant overcharges.  Rather than 
          relying on such representations, an owner must determine that the 
          rents are lawful, and must adjust those that are not.  The owner is 
          also charged with a knowledge of the pertinent rules of rent 
          regulation, so that if the owner charges rents that are clearly 
          inconsistent with those rules, the owner is liable for refunding 
          the overcharges in triplicate.  That is the case with the owner 
          herein, regardless of the actions of his/its predecessor.

               As to the purported residence of the prior owner, or agent 
          Paul Hoskins, petitioner presents no authority mandating a free 
          market rent after an owner occupancy that did not span the "base 
          date."  The rent records in this case show prior tenant Glenda 
          Simon occupied the subject apartment on the April 1, 1984 base date 
          at a rental of $355.24 and that the alleged prior owner occupied 
          the subject apartment at most from January 1, 1986 to December 31, 
          1987.  Moreover, the prior owner itself in annual registration 
          forms listed Paul Hoskins as a tenant.  Accordingly, the 
          Administrator did not err in not allowing a free market rental in 
          the next tenant's lease.

               Turning to the Administrator's freezing of the rent, DHCR 
          records reflect that the owner did in fact register in and for the 
          year 1987.  Instead of the frozen figure of $429.41, then, (a) the 
          lawful rental under the complainant's first lease  (running from 
          January 1, 1988 through December 31, 1989), was 16.5 percent higher 
          than that, i.e., $500.26, under Guidelines Board Order Number 19, 
          and (b) the tenant's other lease herein, commencing on January 1, 
          1990, was another 9 percent higher, or $545.28, under Order Number 
          21.  With actual rents of $666.89 for 24 months under the first 
          lease and $726.91 for 17 months under the second, the actual 
          overcharge was $7086.83, which must be tripled, and then added to 
          the excessive security deposited ($181.63), to arrive at the 
          damages payable to the tenant herein: a total of $21442.12.

               Regarding the Housing Court stipulation for a $150 credit, it 
          appears from the copy provided to have been part of a comprehensive 
          settlement of a nonpayment proceeding brought by the owner.  It is 
          stipulated additionally therein that the owner is to make certain 
          repairs.  As the $150 abatement thus appears to be for service 
          deficiencies, the Commissioner will not subtract it from the rent 
          paid by the tenant, in determining the overcharge herein.





               Petitioner's final contention is that a rental figure that the 
          order recites as having been set in a previous order cannot now be 
          altered.  Inspection of DHCR records reveals, however, that no 
          order has in fact been issued under Docket Number ZAD510512R.  The 
          Administrator's mistake in that regard, then, has not caused any 












          DOCKET NO.: SJR 6784, FF410070RO

          error in computing the overcharge herein.

               In sum the only changes needed in the Administrator's order 
          are those set forth above pertaining to the frozen post-1987 rents.

               The owner is directed to reflect the findings and 
          determinations made in this order on all future registration 
          statements, including those for the current year if not already 
          filed, citing this Order as the basis for the change.  Registration 
          statements already on file, however, should not be amended to 
          reflect the findings and determinations made in this order.  The 
          owner is further directed to adjust subsequent rents to an amount 
          no greater than that determined by this order plus any lawful 
          increase.

               If the owner has already complied with the Rent 
          Administrator's order and there are arrears due to the owner as a 
          result of the instant determination, the tenant is permitted to pay 
          off the arrears in 24 equal monthly installments.  Should the 
          tenant vacate or have vacated, the arrears shall be payable 
          immediately.

               This order may, upon expiration of the period in which the 
          owner may institute a proceeding pursuant to Article 78 of the 
          Civil Practice Law and Rules, be filed and enforced in the same 
          manner as a judgment, or not more than 20 percent per month thereof 
          may be offset against any rent thereafter due the owner.

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

               ORDERED that this petition be, and the same hereby is, granted 
          to the extent set forth above.  The Administrator's order is hereby 
          modified to the same extent, leaving, as of May 31, 1991, a total 
          overcharge of $21,442.12 and a lawful rent of $542.28 monthly and 
          deleting any reference to docket ZAD510512R.

               ISSUED:

                         
                                                                           
                                                  JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTA
                                                  Deputy Commissioner 
    

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