Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. prevailed for its client in an apartment dispute with the client’s former landlord. Our client, a major league baseball player, was traded to another team and moved out of his luxury condominium unit in Manhattan. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. was retained to defend his interests. Litigation was an option, but ALBPC felt that this could be resolved before filing a complaint that could bring the player publicity of a kind he wished not to have.
About two months after moving out, our client received an email from the landlord which stated there was “damage” to the unit. The landlord used our client’s stardom and his status in the Manhattan socialite circle to allege he hosted lavish parties that resulted in the damage discovered upon move-out. The landlord assumed that because the tenant was such a celebrity, he would simply accept the terms of the email and not request further proof of the alleged damage. However, by law, regardless of what one does for a living, a landlord must prove damage was above normal wear and tear.
Under New York Law a landlord must give notice of damage within a reasonable time after the tenant has surrendered the rental property. Our client moved out and returned the keys of the subject premises at the beginning of June 2018, but did not receive notice of “damage” to the unit until the end of July. ALBPC established this was well beyond a reasonable time to notify.
The team at Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. reviewed the invoice provided by the landlord for the estimated cost to repair the “damage” to the unit. It was apparent that the landlord had inflated the repair costs. For example, the landlord claimed our client left damage to one wall but charged our client to repaint the entire unit. The landlord claimed our client broke the patio door which was estimated to cost another outrageous sum to replace. However we demonstrated that the door handle was already broken when the tenant moved in. We received proof of this through the client’s emails and through speaking with the building’s staff who said the landlord was put on notice many times of the issue and “fixed” the door by placing a five gallon water jug in front to prevent the wind from blowing the door open. The tenant had asked many times to have the door handle properly fixed as he was concerned of a break in and also wanted privacy from fans and paparazzi. This was an ongoing safety concern during the entire tenancy, giving ALBPC an opportunity to press for recovery as a counter suit. The landlord also charged an exorbitant fee to repair a crack in one of the showers alleging that our client’s tall and athletic built caused the floor to crack. However, this issue was also brought to the landlord’s attention on previous occasions on which the landlord had had the opportunity to remedy, but never did.
The team at Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. along with the client, conducted a phone conference with the landlord’s attorney to try and understand the alleged “damage” to the unit. The landlord’s attorney repeatedly threatened to go to the press if our client did not pay the amount they were seeking. Our team knew if either party filed suit both parties’ reputations would be put on display for the newspapers, and our goal was to prevent a fictitious story of our client hitting the front page of the tabloids. When no agreement was available at that meeting, the team at Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. began its in-depth investigation.
A member of our team reviewed the building’s board minutes and discovered the stone material used in all the unit showers was prone to cracking and leaking, an ongoing issue presented at board meetings, regardless of the occupants’ height and weight. We could disprove the landlord’s allegation that our client’s athletic built caused the crack and we had proof the crack was a recurring condition of the shoddy material used to construct the shower. The review of the building’s minutes also revealed the building had substantial design flaws, construction defects and was not in a financially sound position. ALBPC attorneys also learned the unit was listed for sale with regular showings available. A member of our team visited the building to document the condition of the unit for the remaining items at issue which included scratches to the hard wooden floor, and a bedroom shade not working properly. Our team was thus able to prove to the landlord’s attorney that the “damage” was consistent with normal wear and tear and our client was not responsible for a monetary remedy.
The issue was narrowed down specifically to the guest room and master room beds. The unit was delivered fully furnished, however upon move-in, our client discovered the two beds were broken. He replaced the beds with brand new frames and mattresses. Upon move out he took the beds and placed them into storage. The landlord threatened to portray our client as a thief in relating the story to the press and demanded a return of the original beds. ALBPC attorneys reviewed the lease and rider and determined there was no mention of the furniture.
One of the challenges we faced working with a celebrity was navigating through the many layers of his staff. We wanted our client to focus on his athletic career instead of worrying about a dispute with his prior landlord. Our team therefore largely worked with the client’s interior decorator for the unit who had firsthand knowledge of the damage to the original beds and was able to provide our team with all the original invoices. The client’s assistant worked with our team to contact the storage facility, located in the Midwest, to arrange a delivery of the beds back into the Manhattan unit. A member of our team was present during the delivery to document and ensure nothing was damaged.
ALBPC attorneys won from the landlord’s attorney the agreement for the client to move the replacement beds back into the unit, the parties agreed to drop all monetary damages and a signed agreement whereby each party waived any future claims of litigation. This victory allowed the player to fully avoid litigation, avoid the press, preserve his reputation, and focus on winning the world series instead of some relatively petty courtroom battle.
Adam Leitman Bailey, Dov Treiman, and Carly Clinton of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C represented the tenant in the apartment dispute.