Using an exception to the rent regulation laws as the basis for eviction proceedings allowed a landlord to evict the tenants in a building while using the building to become an office for the owner.
Eviction proceedings had begun against all of the tenants in the building. The landlord had already vacated a number of tenants in the building and their apartments remained vacant.
Adam Leitman Bailey was hired by a tenant with a large apartment that included a backyard. We discussed that one of the only valid defenses was disapproving that she truly intended to use this building as an office.
The landlord had to overcome that she currently worked from her large townhouse on the Upper East Side to now use this less than luxurious downtown building.
The case looked bleak until ALB started its investigation.
Winning the case meant disproving the mind and thoughts of the building owner by finding some way to show she did not really intend to make the building her personal offices.
When visiting the building I was very curious about the tenants that already had been evicted. If the tenant wanted to convert the former tenants’ homes into offices she would most likely have already begun construction to the empty apartments. I also realized the trap of that argument in that the owner could say that she was waiting for all the homes to become vacant.
When I asked our client about the empty apartments she mentioned that she had a key and access to one of them. Upon entering we came much closer to winning the case.
On the day of the trial came our secret strategy we needed and we subpoenaed the landlord’s workers, architect, engineer and the owner herself. I had taken hours and hours of testimony.
Each witness complimented the other witnesses on the grand design and magnificent details that went into building the new offices. The architect showed plans and the workers described how they built it. They described where they placed the new desks and computers, the type of lighting and where it was hung. They described the carpeting and the sweat and toil used to build the offices.
They had taken the bait. They could no longer say that they were not starting work until all tenants has been evicted.
After all the witnesses testified, I waited for the landlord to take the stand. After hearing her story of her incredible new offices, I started placing photos in front of her and continued to place them on the judge’s bench and the rest all over the floor. I had over 80 photos placed across the court room.
The people in the room gasped. Instead of magnificent new offices the photos showed an apartment that had been left to decay. The ceiling had fallen in, no work had been done to create new offices, no new furniture purchased, no new office designed.
All of the witnesses had perjured themselves and now they had been caught. There was no possible way the landlord could win its case and now the deal was whether the judge would recommend that this case be referred to the district attorney’s office.
The landlord’s attorney immediately stopped the case allowing the tenant to remain in the apartment without fear of eviction. The judge agreed to dismiss the case. Victory had been achieved thanks to some Nancy Drew type detective work.