Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Jerome Tieger and Berel Altman, t/a Creisheim Valley Associates, a Limited Partnership v. Philadelphia Fair Housing Commission and Morgan House Residents Association, No. 3624 April Term, 1978.
Arthur W. Lefco, Mesirov, Gelman, Jaffe, Cramer & Jamieson, for appellants.
Barbara S. Gilbert, Chief Assistant City Solicitor, with her, Barbara W. Mather, City Solicitor, and Marguerite R. Goodman, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor, for appellees.
Judges MacPhail, Colins and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Judge Williams, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 471]
Jerome Tieger and Berel Altman (Appellants) appeal from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (trial court) which rescinded rent increases in Appellants' apartment house based on a violation of the Philadelphia Fire Code.
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 472]
Appellants own and operate Morgan House, an apartment building located in Philadelphia. On February 17, 1977, several tenants of Morgan House filed a complaint with the Philadelphia Fair Housing Commission (Commission) alleging improper rent escalations, and improper eviction of one tenant. The notice for the hearing on this complaint was dated June 17, 1977, and listed the case as a rehearing. The notice included the names and apartment numbers of the complaining tenants, but did not list the specific charges alleged in the tenant complaint.
On June 16, 1977, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections conducted an inspection of Morgan House unrelated to and independent of the tenant complaint, and discovered a fire code violation affecting sixty-eight (68) of the 238 units.*fn1 Appellants received notice of this violation on June 30, 1977.
A hearing on the tenant complaint was held on July 11, 1977, following which the Commission issued a decision requiring the two parties to "confer with each other to reach an agreement with respect to all complaints concerning the Morgan House." Over the next five months, counsel for Appellants negotiated with counsel for the tenants, without successfully resolving the matter. In December of 1977, Appellants' counsel contacted the Commission and requested that a hearing be scheduled on the tenant complaints.
During this period of negotiations, Appellants made several attempts to correct the fire code violation, but were not successful. Therefore, at the second Commission hearing on April 5, 1978, the Commission issued an order which: prohibited Appellants from increasing rents while the fire code violation remained uncorrected; and rescinded any rent increases retroactively to the date of the tenant complaint, i.e., February 17, 1977.
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 473]
Appellants filed an appeal with the trial court in which they contended that the hearing notice sent to them by the Commission for the July 11, 1977 hearing was defective because it failed to set forth the basis for the complaint, i.e., improper rent escalation and improper eviction. Appellants also contended that the Commission did not notify them that ...