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NYC couple sued by squatters who took over their $930K investment home and won’t leave

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NYC couple sued by squatters who took over their $930K investment home and won?t leave

A couple of squatters accused of unlawfully moving into a Queens duplex are suing its rightful owners after refusing to vacate the $930,000 home. 

 

It’s the latest incident in the ongoing squatter saga in New York, which in recent weeks has seen multiple homes occupied by unwelcome invaders who claim rights to the properties under New York City’s permissive laws. 

 

“It’s absolutely absurd,” said the owner of the latest targeted home, Juliya Fulman, who so far has racked up more than $4,000 in legal bills fighting the suit.

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“These people literally broke into my house. It’s not fair to us as homeowners that we are not protected by the city,” the Jamaican property owner added.

 

NYC couple sued by squatters who took over their $930K investment home and won?t leave

 

Within the five boroughs, squatters need only to occupy a property for 30 days before a wide range of legal protections kick in that make it difficult for the owner to evict them.

 

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“You can’t really even blame them in a way because it’s handed to them on a silver platter,” Juliya’s husband Denis Kurlyand said in a phone call with The Post, calling the squatters “opportunists.

 

“Something needs to be done because the issue is getting worse. People are taking advantage of these laws, manipulating the laws, and our hands are tied,” he said.

 

“What did we do? Nothing. We put up a property for rent, and that’s it, now we’re dealing with a nightmare.”

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NYC couple sued by squatters who took over their $930K investment home and won?t leave

 

 The couple spent $530,000 renovating the Lakeside Avenue investment property and secured tenants for both rental units when their real-estate broker, Ejona Bardhi, discovered March 5 that the locks on the property had been changed. After determining the lock change was not authorized, Bardhi returned to the home and saw through the window a silhouette of a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and holding a drill, the broker told the Daily Mail.

 

As Bardhi went to her car to call police, several men emerged from the residence and encircled her car parked in front of the home, she said. 

 

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“They were trying to intimidate me,” she said. 

 

When cops arrived, the two alleged squatters, identified by the outlet as Lance Hunt, Sr. and Rondie L. Francis, claimed they had been living there since January but were unable to provide proof.

 

The men left the home without incident, and Bardhi and the homeowners stated their intention to change the locks. But cops told them they would be arrested if they did. 

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Hunt Sr. and Francis returned to the property a day later, brandishing what they claimed was a lease agreement signed by Bardhi. But Juliya and Kurlyand were prepared, presenting officers with ownership documents and timestamped videos showing the house had been vacant, the homeowners told The Post. 

 

Police then escorted the men from the property, and the owners changed the locks. Upon entering, the couple found their freshly renovated home marred by the trespassers’ utter disregard for their ill-gotten digs, including scuffed up wood floors, scratches on walls and the smell of marijuana permeating the residence. 

 

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NYC couple sued by squatters who took over their $930K investment home and won?t leave

 

What should have been the end of their ordeal was only the beginning, when 10 days later Bardhi was served with court documents notifying her that the male squatters were suing her, the couple and the real-estate company handling the site, Top Nest Properties. 

 

The squatters were granted an emergency lockout hearing March 22 in Queens Civil Court, during which the couple’s lawyer, Rizpah Morrow, asked judge Vijay Kitson for a trial, arguing the men had “perpetrated a fraud.” 

 

Kurlyand said Hunt Sr. and Francis showed up to court with “forged documents” cobbled together from public records documents and hastily photoshopped. 

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“They found whatever they could and threw it all together. The lease they presented is ridiculous — signed on Jan. 1 and starting Jan. 1,” he said.

 

NYC couple sued by squatters who took over their $930K investment home and won?t leave

 

Juliya added, “I don’t know how they had the audacity to show up in court.” 

 

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The squatters’ lawyer, Dennis Harris, told the outlet that his clients had shown him “enough for me to believe they were living there,” which included a rental application, a lease and text messages. 

 

The next scheduled court date is April 5. When the couple asked Judge Kitson if in the meantime they could proceed with letting their tenants move in, he said doing so before the matter is adjourned could complicate things further. 

 

“The court system is not favorable to landlords,” Kurlyand said. “It could take years to evict someone who illegally broke into your house? Where’s the law in that? Why work hard to pay rent or mortgages when you can break into somebody’s house every couple of years and have luxury living?” 

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Despite making some progress toward resolving the matter, Kurlyand said it is still “scary” to have the ultimate decision out of his hands.

 

“As in any courtroom, you never know which way it’s gonna go. It’s scary — if the judge decides for whatever reason to rule against us that day, even if we have evidence, there’s nothing we can do at the end of the day — we still have to fight in court,” he said. 

 

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“Somebody broke into my house, and I’m in court getting sued by them. How can we be here? How is this possible? There have to be safety precautions in place,” he said.



Source link: Linda Ikeji/