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Landlord Sues Tenant Who Says She Moved Away For Health

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Landlord Sues Tenant Who Says She Moved Away For Health

Postby consigliere » Sat Sep 07, 2002 11:31 am

The Downtown Express has an interesting story, by Sascha Brodsky, Landlord sues tenant who says she moved away for health, in its September 4th edition:
 
B.L. Ochman says she can't go back to her apartment in The Battery because of the physical and psychological effects she suffered from the World Trade Center attack.
       
But her landlord is taking her to court for $21,000 in back rent even though Ochman never returned to One West St. after she was evacuated on Sept. 11.
 
After the towers fell, she was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and later she came down with pneumonia.
 
She now has a handful of letters from doctors saying that she shouldn't move back Downtown because of her problems with asthma, post-traumatic stress disorder and a blood disorder.
 
Some tenants and activists have said that the World Trade Center disaster has left toxic materials, including asbestos, that could aggravate conditions like asthma.
 
"Things have just been a nightmare," Ochman said. "I have asthma and my pulmonary doctor says I can't live there. And because of the autoimmune disease I have to be in a calm place."
 
But a lawyer for her landlord said in an interview last week that Ochman was obligated to pay the rent because she signed a lease.
 
"She had a binding and we can't unilaterally let people walk away from their obligations," said Harry Dreizen, the general counsel for Ocean Partners.
 
Dreizen said that Ocean Partners was sympathetic to the difficult circumstances many tenants found themselves in after 9/11.
 
"Our tenants are extremely valuable to us," Dreizen said. "This was devastating to our tenants and to us. This is a community we are very committed to.
 
Some people felt that they could not continue to live here for psychological reasons. We are not as landlords equipped to differentiate between tenants who are able to live in the building and those who can't."
 
Dreizen said that the landlord "tried very hard" to rent the apartment to another tenant after Ochman moved out so she could get out of her lease. The apartment was in fact rented several months after Ochman moved out. Ochman said under the terms of her lease, she is not responsible for the full $21,000 of back rent because her apartment was re-rented.
 
Ochman said that her plea and explanations of her case have gone unanswered. But Dreizen said the problem was that Ochman's lawyers had been negotiating with Ocean Partner's collections attorney who had no power to make a decision to drop the case.
 
"I have no way of knowing if she gave her documentation to the right person," Dreizen said. "She could have walked to the management office and said 'here is my doctor's report.' I don t know what the result would have been."
 
But Ochman, who said she only lived at her apartment for six weeks out of a 12-month lease, was served Aug.19 with the lawsuit seeking 10 months rent and legal fees.
 
Ochman now lives on the Upper East Side and runs her own public relations business from home. She has worked with several pro-bono attorneys but said she has not been able to find one willing to represent her in court.
 
"I can't afford to pay for a lawyer and I can't afford to pay this ridiculous amount of money the landlord is asking for," Ochman said.
 
consigliere
 
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Re: Landlord Sues Tenant Who Says She Moved Away For Health

Postby HAJ77 » Mon Sep 09, 2002 8:36 am

Anyone that's interested her website is http://www.whatsnextonline.com/. Check out her list of services and the fees she charges. A few of her 3 hour special would pay for an attorney and a few more would wipe out that $21,000. All I can wonder is how dumb these pro-bono lawyers are. Maybe the word Google hasn't entered there vocabulary yet.
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Re: Landlord Sues Tenant Who Says She Moved Away For Health

Postby Cranky Tenant » Mon Sep 09, 2002 10:10 am

Even if she can "afford" $2000/month she's probably paying it for the apartment she's living in. That doesn't mean she has an extra $2000/month for an apartment she's NOT living in.

Battery Park City was evacuated and closed off from the rest of the city for several months. We all know the air is bad and apartments simply aren't worth what they were before September 11th. If that isn't a warrant of habitability it's hard to imagine what is.
I'm a cranky tenant NOT a cranky lawyer.
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Re: Landlord Sues Tenant Who Says She Moved Away For Health

Postby Cranky Tenant » Thu Sep 12, 2002 10:23 am

Most likely she doesn't meet the Legal Aid income guidelines and feels $200/hour is more than she wants to pay for a lawyer. Not entirely surprising though since she's probably had to pay moving costs and perhaps realtor's fees twice in the past year.... not to mention medical expenses which she may not have insurance to cover if she's self employed.

Just because she makes more money than the average New Yorker doesn't make her wrong.
I'm a cranky tenant NOT a cranky lawyer.
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Re: Landlord Sues Tenant Who Says She Moved Away For Health

Postby JulieA » Sun Sep 29, 2002 12:16 pm

Oh come on!

This is basially similar to trying to sue for back rent on office space in the World Trade Center! Give me a break.
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