Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. secured an emergency temporary restraining order for its landlord client before Christmas, obtaining permission from a Supreme Court Judge to change the locks and seal the doors to three apartments with New York Police Department (NYPD) assistance to keep out violent illegal short-term rental operators.
First, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. secured a temporary restraining order enjoining a criminal enterprise operating a multiple-apartment illegal short-term rental scheme in our client’s Manhattan building. This order prohibited the tenants from advertising and renting the apartments for short-term use, and also from using, occupying, or maintaining possession of the apartments.
The tenants ignored the Court order. The mastermind of the scheme defaced a copy of the Court’s order, which was posted in the building, forcibly maintained possession of the apartments, continued short-term renting the apartments, disabled the building front door locks, broke the building’s intercom system, covered and ripped out the building’s security cameras, and terrorized building staff, including, by following them to their homes and threatening them with violence.
Without an express directive from the Court authorizing the NYPD to keep the defendants out, and with the tenant lying to the police about his use of the premises, the NYPD refused to keep the defendants away from the apartments and the building.
Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. then moved by order to show cause to hold the defendants in contempt of the initial Court order. As part of the application, we sought a further order enjoining and restraining the defendants from (i) being withing fifty feet of the building, and (ii) contacting building staff at work and around their homes. Arguing that an order without an enforcement mechanism will not deter the malefactors, we also sought permission to change the apartment locks and seal the doors, and express authority for the NYPD and the Sheriff’s office to assist the owner in enforcing the Court’s order.
We supported our application with detailed affidavits outlining the tenants’ violations of the Court’s initial order, including, embedding in the supporting papers pictures from surveillance footage demonstrating the tenants’ violations of the initial order and their violent behavior. The Court scheduled the motion for emergency oral argument on the temporary restraining order portion of our application.
At oral argument, the prime tenant’s attorney argued that the requested relief was excessive and that our underlying eviction case should be stayed due to the COVID-19 eviction moratorium. We argued that the moratorium was inapplicable because the tenants’ actions fell squarely within the nuisance exception to the moratorium. The Court agreed. We also argued that the Court had already enjoined the tenants from using, occupying, and possessing the premises, that the tenants demonstraby ignored the Court order, that the tenants’ actions were dangerous, and that without an emergency tangible mechanism to enforce the Court’s order, the tenants would continue to wreak havoc in the building.
After oral argument, the Court signed our temporary restraining order application in its entirety, permitting the owner to change the locks and weld the doors of the apartments and expressly authorized the NYPD and the Sheriff’s department to assist and to refrain from in any manner restoring the defendants to possession of the apartments.