Judge Jeannine Baer Kuzniewski
Tenant moved for summary judgment on her counterclaims and affirmative defenses, including a willful rent overcharge claim entitling her to treble damages. Landlord demanded monthly rent of over $985, but the parties agreed there were two outstanding rent reduction orders by DHCR from 1987 for decreased services. Tenant moved for an order to deem the current collectible rent for the subject apartment $321 under the initial rent reduction order, and based on such finding, sought a determination of overcharge for the four years before the date she raised the overcharge complaint. Landlord conceded an overcharge occurred, but argued it was not willful noting it acquired the building after the reduction order, but as soon as it became aware of same it attempted to pay tenant to compensate her for the overcharge. The court found tenant was entitled to a money judgment for the overcharge collected from Nov. 2012-2016, granting summary judgment on the overcharge counterclaim. Also, it ruled landlord was aware, but disregarded the reduction order, and failed to acknowledge the parties’ prior stipulation indicating same, and supporting a finding of willfulness. As such, treble damages were warranted and tenant was granted same.