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CREEDON v. LUNDE

November 22, 1947

CREEDON, Housing Expediter,
v.
LUNDE et ux.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BLACK

Frank R. Creedon, Housing Expediter, seeks an injunction, first temporary and then permanent, restraining the defendants from demanding or receiving rent in excess of the maximum legal rent under the Rent Control Act, 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, § 901 et seq.; and, further, ultimately for an order requiring the defendants to tender back to the tenants any excess rents received.

This action is against Alfred Lunde and his wife as owners and managers of premises at 1420 Fourth Avenue West in this city commonly known as the Virginia Lee. The plaintiff claims that said premises are and have been known as the Virginia Lee Apartments. The defendants contend that said premises are and have been known as the Virginia Lee Hotel.

 The matter is before me now for a preliminary or temporary injunction. The Court has had presented to it certain affidavits for and against the application, and, in addition, has received far more evidence from far more witnesses than is usually the case in connection merely with an application for a temporary injunction. The Court has further had the advantage of a view of the premises in the company of counsel for both plaintiff and defendants and with the defendants themselves present.

 Under the Housing and Rent Act of 1947, 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, 1881 et seq., the term 'controlled housing accommodations' does not include among other things the following, 'those housing accommodations, in any establishment which is commonly known as a hotel in the community in which it is located, which are occupied by persons who are provided customary hotel services such as maid service, furnishing and laundering of linen, telephone and secretarial or desk service, use and upkeep of furniture and fixtures, and bellboy service; or any motor court, or any part thereof; or any tourist home serving transient guests exclusively, or any part thereof.' Other exceptions to the controlled housing accommodations under the law include accommodations completed on or after February 1, 1947.

 The affidavit of Mr. Lunde, to a degree, states an important issue in this preliminary consideration. His statement is in the following language: 'That briefly speaking the entire case of the plaintiff herein is based upon an arbitrary assumption by plaintiff and by the members of plaintiff's staff that the premises involved in this matter constitute an apartment house, when in truth and in fact said premises are now a hotel.'

 What is a hotel and what is an apartment house can be troublesome. For instance, according to Webster's New International Dictionary, a hotel is defined as follows: 'A house for entertaining strangers or travelers; an inn, especially one of the better class.'

 An apartment house in such dictionary is defined as follows: 'A building comprising a number of suites designed for separate housekeeping tenements, but having conveniences such as heat, light, elevator service, etc., furnished in common.'

 I think it will be recognized that such definitions are not very helpful to me.

 The statements of American Jurisprudence and of Corpus Juris Secundum are rather in accord generally. Under the title of 'Innkeepers,' American Jurisprudence, Vol. 28, under the heading of 'Definitions and Distinctions,' beginning at page 538, has the following to say:

 'Section 4. Inn or Hotel.- An inn has been variously defined as a house which is held out to the public by the proprietor thereof as a place where transient persons who come in a fit condition will be received and entertained as guests for compensation; as a public house of entertainment for all who choose to visit it; as a house where a traveler is furnished with everything which he has occasion for while on his way; and as a place where all who come are received as guests without any previous agreement as to the duration of their stay or as to the terms of their entertainment. A hotel has been similarly defined, the terms 'inn' and 'hotel' being generally regarded in this respect as practically synonymous. The proprietor of such a place is an innkeeper or hotelkeeper.'

 'The mere fact that boarding or lodging accommodations are furnished at an institution which is operated primarily for another purpose does not constitute it an inn or hotel. * * *

 Under Section 6 we find this: 'Section 6. Inn, Hotel, and Tavern Distinguished.- It is generally held that the term 'hotel' is snyonymous with 'inn,' that the legal definition of each is practically the same, or that 'hotel' is the modern name for establishments formerly called 'inns' or 'taverns'. It follows that a hotel-keeper and an innkeeper occupy the same status in the law. However, a hotel is sometimes distinguished from an inn by its superior style and pretensions, that is, an inn of the better class is sometimes called a hotel. In some jurisdictions, the word 'tavern' is considered synonymous with 'hotel' and 'inn'.' Under Section 9, entitled 'Apartment Houses and Hotels,' there is found this language: 'There is a distinction between 'apartment houses' and 'apartment hotels',- so-called. An apartment house may be generally defined as a building arranged in several suites of connecting rooms, each suite designed for independent housekeeping, but with certain mechanical conveniences such as heat, light, or elevator service furnished in common to all the occupants of the building. An apartment hotel is generally understood to apply to buildings which contain nonhousekeeping apartments, wherein no cooking facilities are provided and the proprietor maintains a restaurant for the convenience of his guests and furnishes other services to them. An apartment house is clearly not a hotel, each apartment therein being regarded as a separate dwelling of which its occupant is the tenant. Also, the fact that a particular establishment is called an apartment hotel and operates under the plan above outlined does not in all instances bring it within the definitions of an inn or hotel, each case depending upon its own circumstances.'

 Under the general language or definition, clearly, the premises known as the Virginia Lee do not constitute a hotel. Under the ordinary viewpoint, premises where there is found no hotel register, no transient guests, no rooms or accommodations for the night, is not deemed a hotel. Ordinarily, when we speak of a hotel we expect to find an establishment that caters substantially to the transient traveler. In fact, the origin of the term 'hotel' was one that applied to hospitality to a traveler. It is generally expected in a modern hotel or in a modest hotel in these modern hotel or in a modest hotel in these modern times that we find a lobby, a hotel register ...


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