at a rental of eight and 75/100 dollars ($8.75) per week, unless increased by the plaintiff for a maximum period of two weeks or less in the event other living quarters are sooner procured by the DeJongs.
(3) The costs of this proceeding shall be divided equally between the parties hereto.
There can be little doubt that the apartment here in question was rented to one Harding, a single individual, for a period of time between January 1, 1942, and May 1, 1942 at a weekly rental of eight and 75/100 dollars ($8.75).Mr. Gandy, one of the defendants, so testified and Willard T. Smith, an Investigator for the plaintiff, also testifed that Mrs. Gandy, another of the defendants, so told him, which assertion was never denied by Mrs. Gandy. Counsel for the defendants, however, has very persuasively argued to the court, that while this was the rental fixed during this period, for one individual occupying it, it was not a fair criterion by which to gauge the rental for a family of six, and therefore the agreement between the parties, of twelve dollars ($12.00) per week, should be fixed as the maximum rental for the apartment. However, with this contention I do not agree. I feel the basic rental for the apartment has been fixed by the defendants at eight and 75/100 Dollars ($8.75) per week by reason of the leasing of the exact premises during the dates hereinabove referred to, and while more electricity, water and gas are certainly required for a family of six, than for a single individual, the defendants should proceed in conformity with Section 5(a) (3), Rent Regulation No. 28 of the Emergency Price Control Act whereunder provision is made, whereby a landlord may file a petition for an adjustment, to increase the maximum rent allowable, where there has been a substantial increase in the services furnished since the occupancy which determined the maximum rental.
While the action of the defendants on August 5, 1942, in shutting off all conveniences, including electricity, from the use of the tenants following a notice to vacate given by them on July 29, 1942, thus leaving the entire family without any light or refrigeration may seem precipitate, nevertheless the attitude of the plaintiff with respect thereto, to say the least was confusing and in a sense contributed to the hardship imposed on the tenants. This by reason of the fact that the plaintiff's own witness, Mrs. DeJong, testified that on July 7, 1942, she went to the Office of Price Administration to make complaint, and there was advised to return to the apartment and make tender to the defendants the sum of eight and 75/100 Dollars ($8.75) per week rental and no more. The testimony further shows that on July 9, two days later, John E. Mulder, Chief Rent Attorney, for the Office of Price Administration, wrote to the defendant, Mary Gandy, inter alia: "the maximum rental which you are allowed to charge for this premises is Twelve Dollars ($12.00) a week". It is a bit difficult to understand how the office of the plaintiff should advise the tenants to pay only eight and 75/100 Dollars ($8.75) as the maximum rental and yet a few days later in writing advise the defendants, the landlords, that the maximum rental should be twelve dollars ($12.00) per week. The only answer the plaintiff makes to this, is that on July 9th when the letter was written they had not the full facts in their possession concerning the previous tenancy of Mr. Harding, yet it is significant that at that time they advised her to pay only eight and 75/100 Dollars ($8.75) per week, the exact rental which Mr. Harding had been paying. It is not at all unlikely that it was on the strength of the plaintiff's letter, that the defendants maintained the attitude they did, and the situation not being clarified, the services were disconnected on August 5th, with the present resulting litigation.
However, the purpose here sought to be accomplished seems to me not to be in keeping with the broad objectives sought to be attained by the Act, nor in harmony with the remedy for housing ills in the present crisis. While it is requisite in a great national emergency such as confronts us by reason of the present war, that courts should be extremely hesitant in giving a narrow construction to legislation such as this, I am nevertheless constrained to deny the prayer of the plaintiff's bill. It seems to me a nuisance here exists not so much by reason of the acts of the DeJong children as in the fact that there are living in a storeroom with crude partitions separating one room from another within an area of twenty feet by twenty feet, a husband and wife, two boys, fourteen and six years of age respectively, and two girls, ten and five years of age respectively, together with a cat and a dog. This crowding of six lives within four hundred square feet seems to me, not only unhealthy and unsafe, but is likewise unsanitary and offends against good morals. For a court of equity to give legal sanction to whatever the arrangement was, would be to defy the very spirit and purpose of the legislation, the plaintiff seeks to impose a duty under, for it was in a larger sense, the protection of the poor tenant from being the victim of high rents, which would force him, by virtue of his inability to pay such rents, into crowded living quarters, which prompted the enactment of the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942. To meet the full onset which the present emergency demands, whether it be in actual combat or on the home front, requires safe and sanitary living conditions, which are alone conducive to strong healthy bodies. The condition here existing is one which should not be long tolerated and accordingly in the exercise of the broad equitable powers inherent in a court of equity, I deem a nuisance to exist on the premises which should be abated; in pursuance thereof a maximum period of two weeks is given to the tenants, Mr. & Mrs. DeJong, to vacate, unless new quarters are sooner secured, the rental during the same to be eight and 75/100 dollars ($8.75) per week and existing services to be continued.
Let a decree be entered.
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