APPEAL from an order of the Supreme Court at Special Term (K. O'BRIEN, J.), entered March 26, 1953, in Bronx County, in a proceeding under article 78 of the Civil Practice Act, annulling a determination of appellant as State Rent Administrator.
Beatrice Shainswit and Robert H. Schaffer for appellant.
Irving J. Kaufman for respondent.
The court at Special Term has annulled a determination of the State Rent Administrator which affirmed on review an order of the Bronx local rent administrator establishing a maximum rent for an apartment owned by petitioner at $32 a month as of May 1, 1950. The court's order required the State Administrator to issue a direction to decontrol the premises. From this determination made under article 78 of the Civil Practice Act, the State Rent Administrator appeals.
The theory of decision of decontrol underlying the order at Special Term is that the landlord converted the premises from a nonhousing to a housing accommodation after February 1, 1947, and that the premises constituted an additional housing accommodation created by conversion after May 1, 1950, involving substantial structural alterations.
The statute (State Residential Rent Law, § 2, subd. 2, par. [g]; L. 1946, ch. 274, as amd.) exempts from rent control housing accommodations 'created by' a 'change' from a 'non-housing to a housing use' or which are additional housing accommodations 'created by conversion' after February 1, 1947, and as to conversions after May 1, 1950, requires the State Rent Commission to issue an order of decontrol if the conversion involves 'a structural change' with 'substantial alterations or remodeling'. Subdivision 1 of section 11 of the regulations of the commission implements the decontrol procedure for conversions after May 1, 1950.
The proceedings before the local administrator in The Bronx were commenced on a complaint sworn to October 5, 1950, by the tenant's wife that the rent of $75 a month charged was excessive and was based on a commercial lease in which the occupancy was to be 'only' for 'dressmaking and sewing shop and office'.
This complaint alleged that the tenant worked in a radio and television shop and had previously attended a radio and television school; that the wife worked as a maid in a hotel; that the premises were never used for any commercial purposes of any kind; that they were wholly unsuited for any business purpose and that the landlord required as a condition of getting the apartment for living purposes that the tenant rent it as a 'commercial unit' although 'he knew as well as we that we never intended to use the apartment as a commercial unit'.
On January 17, 1951, the Attorney-General instituted an action in the name of the People of the State against the landlord in which the complaint alleged that the maximum legal rent for the apartment in question was $22 a month, whereas the landlord was receiving $75 a month; that the landlord was violating the statute and the regulations, and demanding an injunction; restitution of the excess to this tenant and another tenant not here involved and additional statutory damage.
The Attorney-General described this action in his brief before the court as one instituted 'in the interest of the public welfare' and stated that the injunction was required 'for the purpose of aid in law enforcement'. The court granted a temporary injunction on March 14, 1951; but the condition imposed was that the tenant pay into court the difference between the legal rent and the $75 provided in the lease. This has not been done.
This action has never been tried, and nothing has been done with it since the decision of the motion for a temporary injunction, but on May 2, 1951, and on the basis of the original complaint filed by the tenant the previous October, notice was given to the landlord that the 'Local Administrator proposed to issue an order establishing the maximum rent' at $32 a month, and requesting the landlord to answer certain questions in relation to the accommodation; in default of which the ...