No More Than a Squatter?I reported the break-in to my local police precinct. In addition I phoned in a complaint to the buildings department. The compliant was registered as two separate complaints. Construction without a permit and work on Sunday without a variance. I discovered afterward, that someone else in the building made a complaint on Saturday March 5, 2005 as the illegal break-in and demolition was taking place.
Ultimately what he did by breaking into my unit was illegally combine my unit and the vacant warehoused unit next door. I discovered that this was Galloway's standard operating procedure. He would do illegal conversions and other work he didn't want Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to know about on the weekends when HPD inspectors are not on duty.
The complaint for construction without a permit was was eventually dismissed because the inspector could not gain access to inspect the building on 3/11/2005 or on 3/21/2005. That is because the building had no buzzer or intercom. The front door was always locked and unless someone called, there was no way to contact tenants or the Superintendent for access. The complaint for work on a Sunday without a variance was dismissed because “No violation warranted for complaint at time of inspection”. That inspection took place nearly a year after the violation was reported, on 1/2/2006!
On Monday March 7th I went to Housing Court and filed an order to show cause. This stayed the landlord from re-letting the unit and from removing any contents, which at that point was too late. In order for the case to be heard the following day I needed to serve the landlord by 5pm which I managed to do. That put the case on the calendar for Tuesday March 8th.
|Order to Show Cause for the Illegal Break-In/Possession|
At the hearing, the attorney presented an Affirmation in Opposition with their answer and five exhibits.
The first four exhibits were my friends original lease for Unit 6; the renewal lease form showing the legal rent for Unit 6; the new lease which was just executed in my name for Unit 25 and my rental application for Unit 25. The final exhibit was two documents which were never signed by me and never presented to me to sign. I assume they were created solely for the answer.
|Bogus Move-In Form|
|Bogus Move-Out Form|
At the initial conference with the judge, the defendant's attorney hemmed and hawed, claimed that I was really “no more than a squatter”. Of course the landlord had just signed a lease with me, hardly something someone would do with a “squatter”. The judge sent us to conference with his aide.
In the conference, the aide kept pressing the landlord's attorney to explain whether they had legal possession of Unit 6. He continued to dance around the issue. Finally after about 10 minutes the attorney stated “If my client had asked my advice about this, I would have advised against it”. To which the Judge's aide said, “So you didn't have possession. So how do we fix this”?
After a little more back and forth, it was agreed that the Lihtan Co. would pay me $2,750. In exchange I withdrew the petition.