Rent Overcharge Wasn't Willful
LVT Number: #21082
Rent-stabilized tenant complained of a rent overcharge. The DRA ruled for tenant and ordered landlord to refund $14,675, including triple damages. The overcharge finding was based on landlord’s failure to freeze tenant’s rent in accordance with a 1990 rent reduction order based on reduction of building-wide services. Landlord appealed, claiming that there was no willful overcharge. In a prior order based on tenant’s lease renewal complaint, the DRA never mentioned the rent freeze and ordered a lease renewal at a monthly rent of $1,300. The DHCR ruled for landlord. Although the renewal lease proceeding didn’t determine the issue of rent overcharge, landlord reasonably relied on that order in renewing tenant’s lease and setting tenant’s rent. A few months later, the DRA ruled that tenant’s legal rent was frozen at $1,225 based on an 18-year-old rent freeze. Under the circumstances, there was no willful overcharge.
Dorchester, LLC: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. WJ710002RK (11/12/08) [6-pg. doc.]