Housing Court Settlement Didn't Prevent Rent Overcharge Finding
LVT Number: #31603
Rent-stabilized tenant complained of rent overcharge based on outstanding rent reduction orders. The DRA ruled for tenant and found the overcharge was willful. Although rent restoration orders had been issued in connection with two rent reduction orders, there was a third outstanding rent reduction order. Pre-base date rent reduction orders are enforceable from the base date in an overcharge proceeding.
Landlord appealed and lost. Landlord argued that the DRA's decision ignored a settlement stipulation between the parties in a housing court case. But, while courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the DHCR concerning lease and rent disputes, the DHCR wasn't bound by the stipulation here, which predated the filing of tenant's overcharge complaint, didn't establish the legal regulated rent for the apartment, and didn't waive specific overcharge claims. There was no proof that the court in that case reviewed the apartment's rental history, including the rent reduction orders in question. The DHCR also upheld the DRA's triple damages award. Landlord owned the building in 2013 when the rent reduction orders were issued, and was well aware of their impact on the collectible rent.
1541 Williamsbridge Realty, LLC: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. IW610005RO (5/26/21)[3-pg. document]