Apartment Wasn't Vacancy Decontrolled
LVT Number: 13903
Facts: Rent-stabilized tenant with a monthly rent greater than $2,000 filed a fair market rent appeal in 1994. The DHCR ruled against tenant because the apartment was properly registered in 1984 and first stabilized tenant didn't file an objection to the initial rent registration. Also, the apartment had been decontrolled for a reason other than vacancy, and so wasn't subject to a fair market rent appeal. Tenant appealed, claiming that landlord used a fraudulent second residence lease for first stabilized tenant and so he, the second rent-stabilized tenant, should be deemed the first stabilized tenant. The court sent the case back to the DHCR for reconsideration of these issues. The court also ruled that the DHCR's interpretation of Rent Stabilization Law Section 26-513 to bar tenant from bringing a fair market rent appeal in the absence of vacancy decontrol was irrational. Landlord appealed. Court: Landlord wins. Tenant's apartment was decontrolled because rent-controlled tenant didn't maintain the apartment as her primary residence, not because she vacated the apartment. So the apartment wasn't vacancy decontrolled, and under the law, the apartment wasn't subject to a fair market rent appeal. The court also ruled that landlord delivered an RR-1 form to first stabilized tenant, and that tenant didn't file a fair market rent appeal within 90 days. Also, the court ruled that the four-year time limit on rent overcharges applied to both rent overcharge complaints and fair market rent appeals.
Muller v. DHCR: NYLJ, 2/10/00, p. 25, col. 2 (App. Div.1 Dept.; Sullivan, JP, Rubin, Andrias, Friedman, JJ)