No Triple Damages Since Overcharge Wasn't Willful
LVT Number: #24599
Rent-stabilized tenant complained of a rent overcharge. He claimed that landlord's claimed costs for individual apartment improvements (IAI) were excessive. The DRA ruled for tenant and ordered landlord to refund $6,600, including interest. Tenant appealed, claiming that the DRA should have imposed triple damages for willful rent overcharge. Tenant also claimed that the DRA miscalculated the applicable vacancy rent increase. The DHCR ruled for tenant in part. Tenant didn't deny that the claimed apartment improvements were done. There was no proof of fraud, as tenant argued. Portions of the IAI increase were disallowed only because landlord didn't submit proper documentation of the work. There was no proof that the claimed costs were inflated, and the DRA properly ruled there was no willful overcharge. The DRA did incorrectly calculate tenant's vacancy increase. Since tenant moved in under a one-year lease rather than a two-year lease, the legal increase was 16 percent, not 20 percent. The total overcharge was $8,600.
Giliberto: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. AM410010RT (12/14/12) [4-pg. doc.]