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In Middle of Pricey Manhattan, Couple Keeps $90-A-Month Penthouse

September 14, 1993

NEW YORK (AP) _ Right in the middle of high-priced Manhattan, on the same block as Carnegie Hall and the prestigious Russian Tea Room, Robert and Laura Knipe pay just $90.25 a month for a 7 1/2 -room penthouse.

And a court says they can keep right on paying that.

The Knipes, ages 69 and 67, have lived in the rent-controlled apartment on West 57th St. for 43 years.

On Monday, a state appeals court ruled 2-1 to uphold a Housing Court judge’s ruling that they may not be evicted.

Landlord Helen Triantafyllou had tried to have the Knipes booted out of the sixth-floor flat, saying they became tenants illegally under the law that limits rent increases for incumbent tenants in certain buildings.

Joseph Salomon, the landlord’s lawyer, said that after the previous tenant moved out 43 years ago, the Knipes, to deceive the landlord, paid their rent with money orders signed with the name of the previous tenant.

But Robert Bursky, the Knipes’ lawyer, said the previous owner, Katherine Moscos, a sister of Ms. Triantafyllou, addressed a 1972 letter with the salutation ″Dear Tenant Knipe.″

Bursky said Ms. Moscos had instructed Knipe to continue paying rent in the name of the previous tenant to minimize confusion.

Moreover, Bursky said, the landlord’s family occupied several apartments in the building and knew the Knipes were the sixth-floor tenants.

Salomon said he would appeal.

He said the apartment is worth at least $2,000 a month on the open market.

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