My name is Julie Collins. I have been a New Yorker since 1970. Panic, desperation, fear. I have been relocated about 7 ½ years ago. They tore my building down, it was a rent controlled building, I’ve been there for 38 years, so they forced us out. So I was relocated to the UWS to a comparable apartment, rent stabilized. And during that process my original attorney wrote a clause in my lease – he was worried about my age, you know, it’s a walk up – so he wrote in: I have a right of first refusal: apartment opens up on a lower floor I could have first refusal, landlord is obligated to offer it to me. So from the beginning in this new apartment, which was working very well except I didn’t know I was going to have big problem with the upstairs tenants, a noise problem, so, long story short, it escalated the problems between us. So I was being harassed, bullied and actually threatened. At that point there had been an apartment that had opened up – an elderly tenant had passed away – I did inquire about it but they never got back to me. So I thought, okay, when kept in the family, sometimes they pass apartments along the relatives. But when things got really bad for me, I said – oh, and in the meantime they rented it to someone else, it hadn’t stayed in the family, they rented it to new people. So when this all happened though, I decided to pursue it, because the landlord was in, what’s the word, he was at fault, he had never offered it to me in the first place, it was supposed to be before anything else happened. So I checked with a couple of attorneys and they wouldn’t even take the case, you know, everybody was afraid of it. And then, a friend had heard of Adam, she had never used him she had heard of him, and you know, how brilliant he is, which he is. So I called him.
From the moment I heard his voice – he also happened to know my landlord, so he was familiar with how he operates. But from the moment I heard his voice, he is the most confident person I have ever met, but with good reason, you know. So I felt good. He said come in, I came in, I showed him the papers, I showed him the lease. He said: he thought we had a good case and it was worth going for. So he really is, and it sounds like a cliché but it’s true, he is like the champion of the people. First of all I was surprised he would take the case so small because I know he handles very, very big cases. But that feeling of having somebody jump in and be available and support you when you are really desperate is incredible. So I am really grateful that I found him.
Q: Were you satisfied with the attorneys who worked on your case?
A: Absolutely, they are all amazing people. I mean, it’s been 2 ½ years, so I got to know everybody. The case took a few detours, like not very good ones. But from the first day John Desiderio came into the case and then Joanna Peck, so the three of them were mostly helping me for the first year and a half and Jeffrey Metz towards the end, for the appeals.
Q: How was the communication between yourself and the ALBPC attorneys?
A: First of all, I think everybody is brilliant, I mean, it’s really extraordinary to have this many brilliant legal minds altogether in one firm. I’m sure everyone else is too that I haven’t met. I can’t like, it may sound like, somebody is going to suspect that you paid me to be here. Because I cannot say enough good things about everybody, about my whole experience. They were very responsive, they always got right back to me, patiently answered my questions. And most of the time I didn’t know what they were saying because I don’t understand legal language but they really – I don’t know – there’s a lot of humanity there, it’s like they really cared about me as a person, not just the case. Obviously I wanted to win, you know, that was the goal. They are just really beautiful people. All of them.
Q: Did ALBPC help you achieve your goals?
A: My goal was to get the apartment. But what happened was, the landlord started to fight tooth and nail not to give me my rights. You would think this little tiny apartment wouldn’t matter because this is a wealthy landlord. However, they – his response was to try to have me evicted. So they created a whole case against me based on lies, signed affidavits from the other tenants who I was having commotion with – to try to prove that I was operating a business illegally in the building, so they could break my lease and get rid of me. So then, it took like almost a year to go in that direction to kind of fight this whole new case, you know. So that had to happen. And then that became the goal, to prove that I wasn’t operating a business which I wasn’t. And various other things that went along with that.
And then it comes to the time when the judge had to say her ruling, like the final ruling for summary judgment and she ruled against me. I didn’t win. So that was like a set back and everybody was pretty shocked at that. So then we went through the appeals process.
Q: Has ALBPC helped you along the way the whole entire time?
A: The whole entire time, with every single thing. I was just going through my emails, 2 ½ years worth of emails and it all came back to me. And every time that happened, it was very scary, to — the landlord evict you. You don’t know what to do, they are my defense, I can’t do it by myself. I really depended on them a lot, they were always reassuring, always confident, always gracious, just unbelievable group. And by the way, I’ve already told everybody I know. All along the way I kept telling people: you know, if you need any real estate attorneys, I got the good ones for you. 110%. Any position, because he handles all kinds of cases, not just – mine was unique.
We finally just won the appeals, it came up just maybe three days ago, the result came in. So I won it, I won the rights I should have had in the first place. But now some negotiations have to take place between our side and the landlord.
Q: Overall, are you happy with the team here at ALBPC?
A: Very happy, beyond happy. I don’t know, it’s like a deep experience to go through something like this, you know. to lose your home, to be threatened, I mean physically threatened, you know, with police involved and everything when they started, like really intense. And plus we had a good time. We even laughed a lot. Special…