In what takes the prize for the wildest real estate investment-turned-squatter-nightmare story of 2021, a lawsuit in New York details that a $6.9 million townhouse in an upscale part of NYC near Park Avenue has been effectively turned into a "members only" brothel and gambling club.
A real estate investor rented out a 3,000-square-foot triplex within the building for $16,000-a-month to a tenant, who in turn sublet it beginning in November 2020 after going to Brazil, according to court records; but soon after, neighbors began complaining about all night parties and drugs on the premises, complete with a pair bouncers stationed at the building.
The New York Post presented the lurid details in a weekend story, describing that the high-end building has been transformed into "a depraved den of iniquity with poker games, prostitution and after-hours parties" based on extensive documentation in the legal filings.
What's worse is that after it came to light that the venue was not being legitimately used as a residence, but instead as essentially a wild after-hours nightclub, the pair at the center of the scheme appear to be claiming 'squatters rights'. In New York City, a squatter can attain legal rights to be in a property after a mere 30 days. At that point a landlord must begin the complicated legal process of formal eviction, given the intruder's newly gained "rights".
"I was getting calls from people in the neighborhood like threatening my life," the building owner, Mitch Spaiser, told the Post. The squatters then demanded big money just to move out and end the legal ordeal. The report describes:
Spaiser tried to evict Jurman who, in turn, demanded tens of thousands of dollars to leave, according to a lawsuit Spaiser filed through his LLC in state Supreme Court in August. Taub, Jurman and "John Does" are named as defendants.
One of the John Does was later identified in legal papers as Kenyatti Adams, who moved in with Jurman in April 2021, "strong arming" his way into the property, legal papers allege.
Statements in court papers were cited as indicating that "Adams is using the … premises to host illegal poker games, to host sex trafficking and prostitution activities, and to hold illegal afterhours parties. He mainly enters on the weekend and leaves during the weekdays."
The Post story actually includes security video from one of the building's other apartments of partiers breaking in without giving it a second thought. Apparently thinking the private residence was just another part of the "club" - a near naked man and an unidentified woman casually walked in and presumably went to a back bedroom. This particular statement from the story encapsulates the problem and broader crisis of NY policy nicely - but only if seen in the light of the absurd irony it actually presents:
"This is a case of the most egregious abuse of New York’s tenant protection laws being wrongfully used by bad actors to manipulate and take advantage of the system at the expense of the owners,” said Victor Feraru, a lawyer for Spaiser.
Likely the townhouse owner hopes to use the media attention exposing the squatters' seedy activities to shut down the covert "club" and move the case along speedily in his favor.