This Landlord-Tenant Dispute Is 'Stuff of Legend'

Tenant protections established in the pandemic could drag it out for years: 'New York Times'
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2022 2:55 PM CDT
This Landlord-Tenant Dispute Is 'Stuff of Legend'

For 15 years, Ahmet Nejat Ozsu has lived in the same one-bedroom apartment, a unit with a private deck and a sweet view of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, writes Stefanos Chen in the New York Times. Ozsu has no plans to move, and he’s set off a landlord-tenant battle that has become “the stuff of legend” in New York City real estate, writes Chen. That’s because he is singlehandedly holding up a $70 million deal. Ozsu rents in a building purchased last summer by the Naftali Group, which negotiated buyouts for all the other tenants. Ozsu refused. The developer is now suing him for some $25 million, per the Times, and they put a noisy industrial air filter just outside his door, along with a surveillance camera, which Ozsu says are “bullying tactics.”

An attorney for the developer counters that "there has been no harassment, period, full stop." Because Ozsu's apartment is not rent stabilized and he has a month-to-month lease, he’d be long gone in normal times. But anti-eviction policies instituted during the pandemic offer strong new footholds. Ozsu, a software engineer, recently applied for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program after a period of unemployment. He can’t be evicted while his application is open, and if it’s approved, he will have a right to avoid eviction for another year or more. The Times speculates that Naftali plans to demolish the 128-apartment building in favor of a mixed-use tower with a handful of multimillion-dollar condos. The company says Ozsu is simply holding out for more money, which is not an unusual scenario in New York’s booming condo market. (Read the full story.)

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