Tenant Can't Get Triple Damages
LVT Number: 8700
Tenant complained of a rent overcharge. The DHCR ruled for tenant, but found that the overcharge wasn't willful. Tenant appealed, claiming that he was entitled to triple damages for a willful overcharge. The lower court ruled against tenant, and he appealed. The appeals court again ruled against tenant. Landlord had charged tenant a free market rent after substantially renovating the rent-stabilized apartment. Landlord believed it was entitled to do so, since it had changed the walls within the apartment. Until 1987, it was a widespread belief that this work would qualify as an MCI. Only then, did the DHCR clarify its rulings by stating that to create a new apartment subject to a free market rent, landlord must change the outer dimensions. The DHCR reasonably ruled that the overcharge wasn't willful.
Myers v. D'Agosta: NYLJ, p. 22, col. 3 (3/10/94) (App. Div. 1 Dept.; Murphy, PJ, Kupferman, Asch, Williams, Tom, JJ)