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New York Times writer sued over rental housing dispute

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Looking for a temporary rental apartment in the noisy Upper West Side under construction for $2,999/month. Which option did this couple choose?

What ultimately led them to sue was the allegation that they owed at least $35,000 in unpaid rent and expenses.

Joyce Cohen, New York Times contributor who wrote “The Hunt” — a weekly column that has long chronicled the challenges of locals finding new homes in notoriously expensive and competitive New York City — Has her own real estate headaches: Billing her for unpaid rent on a property near Central Park in a sublease agreement, which the landlord claims is also illegal.

Cohen was named alongside husband Benjamin Meltzer in a state Supreme Court complaint filed Tuesday by plaintiffs Amit and Jasmine Matta.

In their complaint, the Mattas say they moved to a temporary city residence early in COVID for the sake of their daughter’s health and that of Jasmine, who is recovering from cancer.

It was a two-bedroom spread that Amit Matta bought for $1.4 million in 2005 and most recently tried to rent it between May and November 2020 without success, according to city financial records. StreetEasy records show. According to complaints, a Craigslist ad subleasing his unit in Uptown Furnished went public around November 2020.

business insider First reported news of a suit. Cohen declined to comment for this story.

Cohen is a contributor to the New York Times. “Defendant’s actions are riddled with irony and hypocrisy because the rent that defendant refused to pay is below the current rental market price of plaintiff’s residence,” the complaint reads.

In late 2020, Cohen and Meltzer replied to an ad that they needed to evacuate their nearby rent-stable home due to impending construction outside, according to the Buildings Department’s overtime fluctuation records for July 2022. (Meanwhile, Department of Transportation records show that a block of sub-tenant temporary housing has its own work underway, including gas installations by ConEd with permits valid through September. It is shown that there is

According to the complaint, Cohen and Meltzer agreed to pay $2,999 a month plus all utility bills, all the while continuing to pay rent on their primary home.

Cohen and Meltzer’s reasons for moving, as detailed in the complaint: They have a hearing impairment called hyperacusis, which makes seemingly normal sounds (in this case, the sound of a construction site) unbearably loud. I have.

Some time after Cohen and Meltzer moved in, the building’s landlord and supervisor knocked on the door, the complaint adds. According to the landlord (an insider sued Matas and Cohen separately in December), the arranged sublet of the rental apartment was illegal, resulting in the landlord filing a lawsuit.

Complaints center on the Upper West Side building, known for its rows of historic brownstones.
Complaints focus on buildings on the Upper West Side, known for its historic townhouses.
Getty Images

“Jasmine and Amit have tried to reconcile by admitting to subletting the apartment without the landlord’s permission, so they have put rent payments on hold for the past two months.”

Cohen and Meltzer’s attorney, Jeffrey McAdams, told the Post

In the complaint, the Mattas say they “begged” the couple to move out to avoid an impending lawsuit, but Cohen and Meltzer not only refused, but also said they were not willing to pay more than $2,558 a month. Or what their attorney said was the “statutory rent,” the complaint adds. The Mattas said in their complaint that Cohen knew that the landlord could sue for an unapproved sublease when the landlord signed the contract.

“after that [Cohen and Meltzer] Continued to live for free and stopped paying rent [the Mattas] and failed to pay rent to the landlord,” the lawsuit reads. Cohen, who published a column in The Times, is said to have made his “plan to live for free” even worse due to his “extensive knowledge of real estate and connections with real estate.”

“Defendants’ actions are riddled with cynicism and hypocrisy because the rent that defendants refused to pay is below the current rental market value of plaintiffs’ residences,” the complaint states.

Correspondence between Cohen and Meltzer and Mattas, as cited in the complaint, shows that the subtenants began paying rent into an escrow account but stopped paying rent due to a dispute over legal fees. I’m here. However, the complaint does not state when rent payments are alleged to have stopped, how much should be paid, or how the minimum $35,000 damages will be divided between rent and other expenses. It is not specified whether

Condominiums are also built nearby.
Condominiums are also built nearby.
NY Post Christopher Sadowski

After urgently renting this apartment to escape construction-related noise hazards, Joyce and Ben discover that the overtenant has been subleasing to them under false pretenses. [the Mattas] They now live in their condo,” Cohen and Meltzer’s attorney, Jeffrey McAdams, told the Post in a statement, referring to Chelsea’s property.

McAdams added that Cohen keeps depositing money into his escrow account.

In a statement, McAdams said, “For the past two months, they have put rent payments on hold as I tried to settle with Jasmine and Amit, who admitted to subletting their apartment without the landlord’s permission. “The tenants have refused to settle and instead continue to harass and threaten to hurt Joyce and Ben.”

(The complaint also detailed an allegation by a sub-tenant that Jasmine intended to “walk through the apartment with a loudspeaker,” which the complaint does not admit. Amit Matta He told an insider that he and his wife are “totally in denial.”)

The complaint further accuses Cohen and Meltzer of refusing to move out, even though Cohen and Meltzer offered alternative solutions to suit their needs.

Still, correspondence from Cohen and Meltzer’s attorneys cited in the complaint states:[Jasmine] Joyce and Ben want to take her home. they don’t.they must be within walking distance of their home [nearby] But if Amit finds a quiet enough place for their needs that’s bigger than the studio, they’re happy to move. ”

Records point to other problems in the apartment’s history — a bitter relationship between Mattas and his landlord appears to have existed — reported by Mattas and brought to the city by the city’s Department of Housing and Conservation and Development. The landlord in the form of a previous breach that was supposed to have been communicated. They include documenting cockroach infestations throughout the apartment. Another detailed lead paint peeling off the door jamb. These have since been resolved.

Townhouses on the Upper West Side.
Townhouses on the Upper West Side.
Getty Images

In a Supreme Court filing this week, in the first section under the heading “Roommate Agreement,” a “full and unrestricted lease on the property for two years from January 15, 2021 to January 14, 2023. Also included is an exhibit that says “access is provided.” He was to give Matta 30 days’ notice of her to waive those rights.

“If [Cohen] Giving such notice [Matta] We may seek out another individual to share the property or possibly sublet the space,” it says. “To support this [Matta] You may want to show your unit to others. [Cohen] You agree to facilitate such visits by giving us at least 24 hours’ notice. ”

Meanwhile, Section 9 of that contract states that Cohen and Matta have agreed to make reversible changes to the home. This includes installing a plexiglass sound barrier. As of July 5, Cohen and Meltzer had not moved, according to the complaint.

Mattas intended to offer sub-tenants a two-year sublease. In a statement, the family said there were “many other” interactions not listed in the complaint.

“I don’t understand why they are still at our place when we were ready to leave on July 5,” Jasmine told The Post in a statement. We are not providing the necessary coverage for their safety and health, it is simply a matter of money.

A New York Times spokesperson told the Post in response to a message seeking comment: “We are aware of the lawsuit and are investigating it.” Great Neck-based Vision Enterprise Management, the building’s owner, declined to comment. Jennifer Rosen, the attorney representing Matas in the building lawsuit, did not return requests for comment.

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