Landlord Didn't Get Proper Notice of Complaint
LVT Number: 16088
Facts: Tenants complained of a rent overcharge in March 1984. They also filed a fair market rent appeal. The DRA ruled against tenants in 1988. Tenants appealed. The DHCR ruled for tenants and awarded them $3,200. Tenants appealed to the court, claiming that they were entitled to challenge the first stabilized rent. In 1996, the court granted the DHCR's request to take the case back and told the DHCR to decide the case within 90 days. The DHCR issued an order within 90 days that sent the case back to the DRA. Tenants again appealed to the court, claiming that the DHCR didn't decide the case as ordered. In the meantime, the DRA ruled that the first rent was lawful and landlord owed tenants $6,500 in overcharges. Tenants asked the court to modify the order. The court ruled for tenants and ordered a $20,000 refund of rent overcharges. The court also sent the case back to the DHCR for calculation of triple damages. In 1999, the DHCR sent landlord notice for the first time of the triple damages claim. The DHCR ruled for tenants and found a total overcharge of $60,000. Landlord then appealed. The court ruled against landlord, and landlord appealed again. Court: Landlord wins. While the lower court saw no reason to delay a final ruling any further by another remand to the DHCR, landlord never received proper notice of the complaint. Also, the lower court's $20,000 overcharge finding was made after a nonfinal determination by the DHCR. Court review was improper before a final DHCR ruling was made. The case was sent back to the DHCR again.
Weinreb Mgmt. v. DHCR: NYLJ, 8/12/02, p. 18, col. 5 (App. Div.1 Dept.; Andrias, JP, Buckley, Rosenberger, Wallach, Gonzalez, JJ)