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Standalone tenant refusing to move out of condemned NYC building for $70m development

‘It’s two things: I have the right to be here, and I have no place to go,’ the tenant said

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 19 April 2022 20:25 BST
Related video: Landlords call for end to coronavirus eviction ban that stops people being made homeless

A man is refusing to leave his New York City apartment after the owners sold the building. Now he claims his landlord is trying to force him out using noise and disruptive construction.

The New York Times reports that Ahmet Nejat Ozsu, 51, has been living in his apartment at the Eagle Court building in the city's Upper West Side for 16 years.

The 700 square foot, one-bedroom apartment - which features a private deck - costs $3,350 a month.

The Naftali Group purchased the building for $70m in June and told all of the residents to move out of the building. Real estate experts speaking to the Times believe the building is likely to be torn down and replaced with a luxury tower housing no more than 11 mega-units worth approximately $40m.

Mr Ozsu, a software developer, lost his job during the pandemic, and currently owes $13,000 in back rent to his current landlord. He says he needs at least a year at his new job before he will have enough money saved to move out and find a new home.

Lawyers for the company allege that Mr Ozsu is holding out for the new owners to offer him a hefty buy-out of his apartment.

Naftali did offer Mr Ozsu $30,000 to leave his apartment, but he apparently rejected that offer. The company has also sued him for $25m.

Mr Ozsu claims the company is trying to drive him out by starting construction across from his unit and using a noisy air filter that he claims "sounds like a jet" to harass him. The company claims the contrary, saying the machine is "actually for his health and safety."

The man's lawyer, Adam Leitman Bailey, told The Daily Mail that Naftali was "bullying" his client.

"His view is now that he's standing up for all New Yorkers who couldn't afford a high-priced lawyer," Mr Bailey said. "And he's gonna stay there for as long as he's legally allowed to be there, number one."

Mr Bailey said his next course of action is to obtain a Certificate of No Harassment against Naftali. The certificate would prevent Naftali from demolishing the building until three years have passed their last instance of "harassment."

Y David Scharf, the attorney for Naftali, threatened to sue Mr Baily for "coordinating a media attack" against the company.

He claimed that the company was not retaliating against Mr Ozsu, and accused the tenant of holding out for a million dollar payout.

"There has been no harassment, period, full stop," he told the Times. "Through counsel, he has made it clear he's holding out for a ransom of north of a million dollars."

For Mr Oszu, the matter is simple.

"It's two things: I have the right to be here, and I have no place to go," he said.

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