NYC Landlord Facing His Own Eviction as Tenants Refuse to Pay Rent - The Jewish Voice
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Saturday, May 21, 2022

NYC Landlord Facing His Own Eviction as Tenants Refuse to Pay Rent

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By Hadassa Kalatizadeh

A New York City landlord is facing eviction as tenants in his Harlem building excuse themselves from paying rent.

David Howson, now 88, has owned the 10-unit building at 9 W. 129th St. and used the rental income to help pay for his co-op apartment in Inwood where he has resided for decades. Howson, now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, is having trouble paying his own maintenance charges and is himself facing eviction from his co-op, his family claims.

As reported by the NY Post, tenants at the Harlem building have failed to pay over $40,000 worth of rent so far, and now Albany lawmakers have handed the tenants another break. Legislature is slated to pass a new eviction moratorium, which will allow non-paying tenants to stay in their apartments until at least May 2021.

Most of Howson’s lost income, or over $39,000, comes from just one wayward tenant who inherited rights to the apartment after her husband moved to a nursing home. The tenant has allegedly paid nothing towards the $926 monthly rate since December 2016, as per the landlord’s family, which showed rent rolls to The Post as proof. The only payment received has been $215 payments from the city social services, which started coming in September 2019.

“We have nothing. We are completely destitute,” daughter Jessica Howson, who manages her father’s affairs, told The Post. “If Citibank is not giving me a break with my mortgage, why should anyone else live rent-free?” she added. The family has even tried selling the building, but potential buyers are scared off by the city’s one-sided leniency. Howson and her brother Dante say they have engaged in years of litigation against the tenant, but to no avail. They allege that at court, their case has repeatedly been beat-down by pro bono city attorneys. “Legal Aid, Adult Protective Services, this lady came to court with four lawyers, like OJ and the dream team,” Howson said. “We can barely afford one attorney.”

Howson says the agency standing-in as the woman’s legal guardian has blatantly told her that the client had a “right” to stay in the apartment without paying the rent. In November, the attorneys agreed to settle the ongoing lawsuit, with the tenant paying $39,106.29 by Dec. 31, 2020, but it has not been paid.

In a statement, Manhattan Legal Services said it is in the process of “obtaining a rent subsidy from the City which will pay the landlord our client’s full back rent and provide regular monthly rent payments on her behalf moving forward.”

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