In April 2014, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. was contacted by a 75 year old rent controlled tenant after the new owner/landlord of her building asked her to move out of her apartment. The tenant/client had lived in the five-story walkup building—located on one of the trendiest blocks in Manhattan’s West Village—for over 52 years and was the building’s sole remaining occupant. In May 2013, the new landlord purchased the building with the intention of turning it into a single-family townhouse. Of course, the wrinkle in this plan was our client’s occupation of the building’s fourth floor.
To evict our rent controlled client, the landlord decided to make her life a living hell. Without providing any notice to our client, the landlord immediately began demolishing each of the four unoccupied floors of the building. For the next ten months, our client endured the loss of essential services, unfinished repairs, and the constant construction noise that permeated from directly outside her apartment. The landlord’s workers wore various shielding to protect themselves from hazardous materials while making no corresponding efforts to protect our client, who had to breathe the potentially toxic construction fumes and debris every single day. Our client’s personal belongings, including clothes, shoes, artwork, and furniture, were covered in a layer of thick white dust from the constant construction work. Our client also had to permit access to the landlord’s workmen on more than 40 occasions. Moreover, throughout all the construction work and resulting damage to our client’s apartment, the landlord only once sent a cleaning service to the apartment, and even this was only after the workmen accidentally broke through our client’s entire closet ceiling and wall. On one occasion, the landlord implicitly threatened our client by insinuating that she might end up on the streets like the female lead in the movie Blue Jasmine.
Additionally, despite the nightmare that her living situation had come, our client even agreed to allow the landlord to install an elevator directly through her apartment—which she would not be permitted to use—and the installation of which took away a significant portion of her living space. In exchange, the landlord agreed that the two wood-burning fireplaces within our client’s apartment would remain wood-burning, along with providing our client an upgraded refrigerator, stovetop range, and a washer/dryer combination unit.
Months after entering this agreement, the elevator installation was complete, but our client still had not received any of the agreed-upon appliances, and the landlord’s workmen had requested access to our client’s apartment to install a fireplace flue that would make her fireplaces gas-operated. It was at this time that our client realized the landlord had no intention of honoring its agreement to let her keep her wood-burning fireplaces. In addition, to add insult to injury, the landlord then told our client that she should move out.
The facts were clear: the landlord was doing everything it could to make our client’s life miserable in hopes that she would move out. Thus, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. immediately commenced a harassment proceeding by way of an Order to Show Cause. For the next three months, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. attorneys worked with the landlord’s attorney to try to resolve the case, while simultaneously setting up the harassment case for trial. It became clear to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s attorneys that the landlord did not want the wood-burning fireplaces under any circumstances whatsoever, and that it was willing to take its chances at trial with respect to its breach of the agreement with our client to allow them. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.attorneys correctly recognized that the wood-burning fireplaces would ultimately be the lynchpin in our client’s case.
At trial on August 6, 2014, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. utilized the wood-burning fireplace breach as a starting point for establishing its harassment case. This strategy paid off. On the second day of trial, it was clear that the judge was on our client’s side. The judge urged the parties to settle, while simultaneously warning the landlord that its blatant breach of the wood-burning fireplace condition did not lend itself to its defense of the harassment claim.
Despite being close to victory on the harassment trial, the battle really would not be won until our client either had a safe, harassment-free place to live or enough money so she would not have to worry about money again. Recognizing this, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. attorneys seized the opportunity that the judge’s warning to the landlord provided and invited the landlord back to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s offices to conduct apartment lease sale negotiations. Within a few hours, thanks to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s unparalleled negotiation skills, our client agreed to move out with a little under $2 million to spend. Our client will now be able to live the rest of her life in peace and comfort in her new home.
Christopher Halligan and Rachel Sigmund conducted the trial for Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Adam Leitman Bailey negotiated the settlement for the tenant/client.