By Arthur Z. Schwartz
Another elderly reader of Westview has been saved from the claws of a greedy landlord.
Michael Sloan owns a number of buildings in the West Village, one of which is a multi-family building at 42 Morton Street. Sloan has made it onto Public Advocate Letitia James’ ‘Worst Landlords’ list for many years running. (He is also known as ‘MSJ Management’). One would think that, with a potentially pricey address in the West Village, he would make an exception. Hardly. If you type the Morton Street address into the Yelp search engine, here is part of a review that comes up:
“Avoid Michael Sloan and his buildings at any cost. Literally RUN away from any building he’s associated with. Michael Sloan is a liar and a slumlord. In the year I lived in one of his buildings (42 Morton [Street]), the building was never clean [and also] littered with trash, grime, and mouse feces. A window in the hallway was broken the entire year. Getting Michael to fix or address any issue is torture. He’s unresponsive. If you do manage to get him on the phone, he behaves like an abusive bully. He would refuse to follow the terms of my lease and the law and repeatedly tried to intimidate me to ‘give up’ and move out.”
Indra Kaushal is 69 years old. She or her now-deceased husband has lived at 42 Morton Street since 1955. For years, MSJ Management has been trying to oust her from the apartment, has not dealt with myriad violations, and has failed to provide adequate heat and hot water.
In 2016, Mrs. Kaushal commenced an action, pro se, for harassment and for lack of services. Sloan responded with a motion to dismiss, falsely alleging that Mrs. Kaushal did not provide access to her apartment. She appeared in front of a hostile judge, Peter Wendt, one time. When he remained hostile after ordering a report which showed numerous violations in the apartment (which Sloan blamed on her), she decided that court wasn’t a good idea. When Mrs. Kaushal, believing that Judge Wendt had deemed the motion to dismiss “withdrawn,” failed to attend a court session on November 10, 2016, Judge Wendt—without giving leeway to an elderly, pro se tenant—entered an order granting Sloan’s motion to dismiss “without opposition” and added that her petition was “denied for failure to provide access.”
Judge Wendt’s statement was not an invitation to evict Mrs. Kaushal, but Sloan treated it as such. The landlord promptly served a Termination Notice. Mrs. Kaushal then immediately called MSJ Management and left messages that she would allow access, but didn’t get a response. So, having read about other cases of tenant harassment in Westview, she called your author at Advocates for Justice, seeking help.
We immediately wrote to Sloan’s lawyer offering to arrange access. His lawyer wrote a nasty letter back, saying that it was “too late.” A few days later, they served an Eviction Petition. I am pleased to report that, with the help of Advocates for Justice attorney Laura Barbieri, and after numerous court appearances, the case was settled. Mrs. Kaushal will arrange for access through counsel, and the landlord (hopefully) will stop harassing her. But we will go right back to court if Michael Sloan resumes his harassment. Indra Kaushal shall not be moved!
Arthur Z. Schwartz is the Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village and President of the Advocates for Justice Legal Foundation.