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Model, hedge fund manager in court over New York townhouse lease


A hedge fund manager and a model are the opposing parties in a lawsuit over the rental of a townhouse on East 19th Street in Manhattan. The fund manager rented the triplex from the model, who is now semi-retired but purchased the property when her modeling career was in full swing.

The tenant, who has since moved out, claims he and his family were denied access to the basement during the term of the rental. He also alleges the family couldn't use the backyard because it was infested with mice. He is demanding a refund of over $600,000 in rent. The figure is based on the square footage of the basement and the backyard as a percentage of the total leased space, plus an additional penalty based on other issues including an allegedly leaky roof.

The model says the suit is meritless. She says the lease for the property never included the basement. And she says mice are not unusual in New York City. She claims she tried several times to visit the property to evaluate the alleged problems, but was always denied access by the tenant and his family.

The model says on two occasions she did not renew the lease, in the hopes the fund manager and his family would move out. But she claims that after they threatened to remain as holdover tenants she gave in and renewed the lease. After the family vacated the property, she withheld a portion of their damage deposit because there was allegedly significant damage, over and above ordinary wear and tear.

Lease disputes can be complicated and expensive. Nuisance and lease violation cases can be particularly acrimonious. Counsel for both parties must review the language of the lease, as well as case law and statutes governing residential rental property. Having an experienced Manhattan real estate attorney on one's side can help get a satisfactory result.

Source: New York Daily News, "Hedge fund manager suing his former landlord, a model known as 'Miss Wonderbra,' for rent refund because of mice infestation," Barbara Ross, Aug. 8, 2014

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