Carmen was 60 years old. She and her husband lived in their rent stabilized apartment in Sunnyside, Queens for almost 30 years. Carmen spent her days looking for work while her husband worked nights at a local restaurant. Even with a relatively low rent, they had trouble affording their apartment. She attended one of the Immigrant Tenant Advocacy Program’s (ITAP) walk-in legal clinics, bringing with her court papers for eviction from her landlord.
The landlord was attempting to utilize a provision in the law that would allow him to recover the apartment for his own personal use–a claim that is often fraudulent, though difficult to disprove. However, the claim was particularly suspicious since this provision cannot be used to evict a tenant who is 62 years of age or older. Since Carmen would soon have the option of choosing a 2-year renewal lease, this would be the landlord’s last opportunity to evict Carmen and her family before she turned 62.
The lawyers at Catholic Migration Services took on Carmen’s case to help her and her husband keep their home. A trial was held to determine if the court papers served to Carmen were in conformity with the law. After a multiple-day hearing, the judge found that the court papers lacked sufficient information about the place, date, and time of Carmen’s initial court appearance. As a result, the judge dismissed the landlord’s case. Upon hearing the news, Carmen burst into tears of joy. Within a week, the landlord provided Carmen with a new 2-year lease and expressed contrition for what he had attempted. Carmen is now actively involved in ITAP’s community organizing efforts.