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Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Obtain Residential Eviction During COVID and Permission to Use Self-Help

The team at Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. continued to find creative ways to assist landlord clients in the wake of the nonfunctional New York Housing Courts. In a recent case, a landlord-client learned that his tenant, in violation of the lease and New York law, had been illegally subletting his apartment through Airbnb to subtenants. One subtenant, emboldened by the fact that at the time evictions were nearly impossible to achieve in New York Housing Court, changed the locks, switched the electricity bill to his name, and refused to pay rent to the landlord. The landlord also received credible reports that the illegal subtenant was dealing drugs from the apartment.

Without recourse in Housing Court, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. instead commenced an action in Supreme Court seeking a permanent injunction and specific performance under lease as well as an award of attorneys fees.  Contemporaneously with filing the summons and complaint, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. moved for immediate injunctive relief requesting that the court enjoin and restrain the subtenant from continuing to occupy the apartment.

At the hearing on the motion, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. argued that the landlord was entitled to an injunction because the occupant’s use of the apartment was clearly transitory and a violation of New York’s Multiple Dwelling Law, which prohibits the transient subletting of an apartment in multi-family apartment buildings. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. pointed to text messages and the occupant’s own emails containing admissions that he was residing in the apartment pursuant to an illegal Airbnb rental. As to irreparable harm, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. argued that by virtue of the illegal sublet, the landlord was subject to potential heavy fines, building closures, and vicarious liability for actions the landlord cannot control, particularly with the nonfunctional Housing Courts.

Subsequent to the hearing, and as a result of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s filings, the illegal subletter made representations to the landlord and the court that he would vacate the apartment and check into a hotel, as a result of which, the landlord changed the locks to the apartment. However, rather than vacate the apartment as he represented he would do, the illegal subletter returned and broke into and damaged the apartment and then sent threatening emails to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. attorneys that the landlord should not change the locks again and that he intended to remain in the apartment.

After receiving these emails, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. drafted and prepared another motion by order to show cause setting forth the illegal subletter’s lies and misrepresentations and requested that the order to show cause papers be submitted for immediate decision.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s persistence paid off. In a victory for the landlord and despite the court’s busy docket inundated with landlords vying for court relief, the very next day, the court granted the landlord an injunction plus the rare addition of permitting self-help, allowing the landlord to immediately change the locks on the apartment door. The police department never intervenes in civil actions involving landlord-tenant matters. To overcome that obstacle, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. foresaw the illegal occupant’s behaviors, forced him to admit to the court that he was breaking the law. Then, he showed the Court his true colors. Ultimately, the winning decision converted the case to criminal trespass if he did not vacate by week’s end and that compelled the police to help our client get possession of the apartment safely.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. attorneys Dov Treiman and Carolyn Rualo secured the injunction for the client.


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