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ABBOT v. BRALOVE

December 9, 1948

ABBOT et al.
v.
BRALOVE et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: TAMM

Plaintiffs in this action are more than thirty tenants in the Broadmoor Apartments whose leases have expired and who are admittedly tenants by sufferance. The defendants are the former owners of the Broadmoor Apartments; the Cooperative Corporation which has purchased the apartment property from the previous owners; the realtor involved in the transaction and the additional defendants are some fifty purchasers of apartments in the Broadmoor building under the provisions of the new cooperative organization.

The plaintiffs contend that the sale of the Broadmoor Apartments to the Cooperative Corporation was made for the purposes of evading the provisions of the District of Columbia Emergency Rent Act, D.C. Code 1940, Tit. 45, § 1601 et seq., and that the present purchasers of apartments from the Cooperative Corporation are not entitled, under the provisions of the Rent Act, to possession of the apartments purchased by these defendants.

 The plaintiffs bring this action in the form of a complaint for a declaratory judgment, praying that the Court declare that plaintiffs' right to continue in possession of the apartments occupied by them cannot, because of the provisions of the Tent Act, be affected by the sale of the property by defendants Bralove and Ernst, former owners, to the defendant Broadmoor Cooperative Apartments, Inc., or by the possession by the 'perpetual use and equity contracts' obtained by those defendants who are purchasers of individual apartments. The defendants, in contesting the issues, move the Court for dismissal of the complaint upon several grounds, challenging the applicability of the Declaratory Judgments Act, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 2201, 2202, to the facts in this case, alleging that the action is prematurely filed, and that adequate remedy is available in the Municipal Court. In addition, plaintiff L. D. Gasser, occupant of an apartment in the Broadmoor Apartments since 1941 and presently occupying his apartment under an expired lease, moves for summary judgment against various defendants, including Robert J. McBride, who is the purchaser of the apartment presently occupied by plaintiff Gasser. The motion for summary judgment by plaintiff Gasser brings the case forward to test the legal question involved. Upon oral argument of the case, counsel stipulated that the hearing would be for the purpose of submitting the facts of the case to the Court for adjudication on the merits, upon the facts established by the pleadings and the resulting legal conclusions which the Court would draw therefrom.

 The rights of the litigants must be determined within the provisions of the D.C. Rent Act referred to above, the pertinent sections of which are as follows:

 '45-1605. (a) It shall be unlawful, regardless of any agreement, lease, or other obligation heretofore or hereafter entered into, for any person to demand or receive any rent in excess of the maximum-rent ceiling, or refuse to supply any service required by the minimum-service standard, or otherwise to do or omit to do any act in violation of any provision of this chapter or of any regulation, order, or other requirements thereunder, or to offer or agree to do any of the foregoing. Nothing herein shall be construed to require the refund of any rent paid or payable for the use or occupancy of housing accommodations prior to the 30th day following the enactment of this chapter.

 '(b) No action or proceeding to recover possession of housing accommodations shall be maintainable by any landlord against any tenant, notwithstanding that the tenant has no lease or that his lease has expired, so long as the tenant continues to pay the rent to which the landlord is entitled, unless --

 '(2) The landlord seeks in good faith to recover possession of the property for his immediate and personal use and occupancy as a dwelling, or

 '(3) The landlord has in good faith contracted in writing to sell the property for immediate and personal use and occupancy as a dwelling by the purchaser and that the contract of sale contains a representation by the purchaser that the property is being purchased by him for such immediate and personal use and occupancy.' (Emphasis supplied.)

 '45-1611. As used in this chapter --

 '(a) The term 'housing accommodations' means any building, structure or part thereof, or land appurtenant thereto, or any other real or personal property rented or offered for rent for living or dwelling purposes in the District of Columbia (including, but without limitation, houses, apartments, hotels, rooming- or boarding-house accommodations, and other properties used for living or dwelling purposes) together with all services supplies in connection with the use or occupancy of such property.

 (A) The term 'rent' means the consideration, including any bonus, benefit or gratuity, demanded or received per day, week, month, year, or other period of time as the case may be, for the use or occupancy of housing accommodations or the transfer of a lease for such accommodations.

 '(f) The term 'tenant' includes a subtenant, lessee, sublessee, or other person entitled to the use or occupancy of any housing accommodations.

 '(g) The term 'landlord' includes an owner, lessor, sublessor, or other person entitled to receive rent for the use or occupancy of any housing accommodations.'


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