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New York deli owner's lease dispute focuses on affair

Some family members can run a business together with little conflict. Discontent can be resolved peacefully among relatives, or relationships can get unpleasant, even litigious.

The operators of a Manhattan delicatessen, famed for serving supersized meat sandwiches for over 75 years, were featured in a brief 2011 reality show called "Family Pickle." The title aptly describes the legal action the property owner recently filed against her husband and a tenant - the occupant of a rent-controlled apartment attached to the Carnegie Delicatessen.

The 63-year-old New York plaintiff is the daughter of the deli's original owner. According to the civil filing, the defendants - the owner's 71-year-old spouse and 66-year-old tenant - have engaged in a particularly private nuisance.

The husband, who manages the deli but apparently has no ownership rights, is accused of having a long-term affair with the tenant. The civil suit claims the infidelity led the husband to "artificially depress" his lover's rent on a 15-year lease agreement.

The wife in the lease dispute wants the court's permission to evict her husband's mistress and collect back rent. The "rent" is the difference between the tenant's $975 monthly rent and the apartment's market value, estimated to be up to $3,000 per month.

The offended spouse said she was unaware of her husband's 15-year affair until two years ago. The wife accused her husband of failing to act in her and the business's best interests, by hiding the "intimate" landlord-tenant relationship.

New York's regulated leases include substantially lower-than-market-value rents and protection from increases. Landlords hoping to evict tenants from rent-controlled or rent-stabilized properties are required to adhere to strict rules.

Attorneys who handle lease disputes must have a solid grasp of the unique laws that apply to New York City landlords and tenants. Advisers for either side must also possess a fine-tuned sense of legal timing for a client to benefit from the complex laws.


Source: 
nypost.com, "Carnegie deli boss 'hid salami' with tenant: suit" Julia Marsh, Lorena Mongelli and Frank Rosario, Oct. 17, 2013

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