“I Would Highly Recommend Them to Anyone, Even If They Think They Know What They Are Doing.”
Elizabeth Mehling, Landlord and owner of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) family building
Could you briefly explain the situation that led you to seek legal help?
I was in contract to purchase my first home and it was…it’s a brownstone up in Harlem and it had tenants so I went into contract and I had no idea that the tenants would be an issue or anything like that even though I am a lawyer and so I was telling a friend of mine that I was in contract to buy this house and I am so excited and that there were tenants. And my friend said…oh my gosh…if you have tenants…he said get out.
He said if you can’t get your money back immediately and he said if you can’t then you need to contact Adam Leitman Bailey and I said…oh…I would back out of it…he said but you can’t. You’ve got to contact this guy. He had helped me before and that’s what you should do. So I, of course, didn’t do anything for awhile and as time was going by I was having a very hard time actually getting a mortgage because it was listed as an SRO and, of course, who does financing for SRO.
So eventually I called the firm and I set up an appointment. Adam met with me personally and he, you know, was extremely helpful. First, you know, I realized how over my head I was and I had no idea what this could have bloomed into and luckily he did give me a realistic picture of what could have possibly happened and but then he said, you know, the decision is yours, you know, if you want to go forward with this, then we can represent you in your closing. He said we know some people that maybe can try to help you with the financing and we will deal with the terms and so immediately he basically took away my problems and I closed and Guy represented me in my closing and I was actually telling Adam today that, even as an attorney, and I have done closings for clients, it was extremely comforting to have an attorney next to me at my closing who I knew he handled everything.
I knew everything was ready to go and particularly because there were tenants they were holding over which is, of course, was a new situation for me and so the closing went great…no problem and Adam helped me and he put me in contract with people to help me with the financing and so that was great and then, as soon as we closed, we had a big meeting here at the office to talk about the tenants and the steps to take with them and, you know, it was all new. Adam gave me a lot of great advice about how the tone I should take and the course I should take and it worked.
The first thing I did I moved a friend of mine up there into the house immediately which was Adam’s recommendation. They said you got to lock up the house and make sure no one else gets in. So we did that so at least the four tenants that I had were there and then he said immediately start telling them that they need to start looking for places, but that you are willing to work with them and I did. I took a very forceful but kind tone. I said, you know, look I am, you know, not going to be offering for rent. I am going to be renovating and, you know, you need to be looking for a place so two people that were actually listed on the closing documents, they did entered into an agreement with me and they did leave and then, one person he left and I actually used the firm to help me get the eviction.
Once I served him with his notice, he never came back again so the firm took me all through the steps…handled the steps of, you know, taking it court, getting the actual eviction, having the marshal come and evict the room, things that, of course, I had never handled before…so they handled all that and of course they gave me great advice, you know, as I was having these clients leave they made sure that the documents that they were signing were iron clad so that I would not have any problems coming back.
I mean…just even one story, I was driving home and the guy, my friend, I had living there said there is a girl here. She said she just got out of prison and she needs to get a new room and then I went “oh man okay” so then I go. Its summer time there and we were sitting on the front steps and I know Adam had said you cannot let anyone in the house and if you let them in the house then they will become tenants and then you will never be able to get rid of them. So she is sitting on my front steps crying and saying “I just got out of prison and all my stuff is here,” and you know. She had been living with this guy who the previous owner had paid off…of course, after the closing…. I told him he had to leave…but I said, no… I said Ramos chose to take all the money….took all your belongings and I said there is nothing in the room.
She went on and on crying and she had to contact her social worker and I called Carolyn here at the firm and I went “what should I do” and I said I feel really bad and here she is she lost everything she said, you know, everything is up in that room and I said in all honesty we have not thrown everything in the room. Carolyn said “no do not let her in, are you crazy.” You know, she said, you know, you just cannot let her in and tell her your sorry and whatever. So I went alright. So I didn’t let her in. Of course, I get home and I looked her up online and she got out of jail three years ago. The whole thing was a scam just because everyone in the neighborhood knew that I was new and that I didn’t know and that I was you know paying tenants. The whole thing was just to rip me off and to get her in the house.
So of course, if I wouldn’t have called the firm then things could have been really much much much worse. One of my tenants he wanted to be paid in cash. I called Carolyn and I said you know “what do I do.” She said well film it, document it, you know, and I did. So when I paid him, I counted it all on film in front of him and I have the video of it. It has been great. It’s a beautiful house. It’s a one hundred years old. We found all kinds of old things and beautiful marble fireplaces and its actually going to be a great show case now and I made an incredible amount of money.
So ultimately, you were pleased with the services of this firm?
Oh, unbelievably pleased and I would highly recommend them to anyone even if they think they know what they are doing. There is no way they would know the intricacies of this law. It is just…of course…I am out of town originally and what I would tell people…you know, no…in SRO these people don’t ever have to leave and you know all these other things. They would say that doesn’t make sense and I say that is the law in New York. There is no way you could be with anyone who isn’t an expert in it like Adam. I would highly recommend the firm.
Any there any last comments you would like to add?