ALBION, N.Y. (WKBW) — Since October 2018, Vickie Golisano has owned the Albion duplex she lives in. Golisano and her dog live on the left side, and she rents out the right.
Golisano said tenants moved in to the right side of the duplex in November of 2018, and even though they were late on rent, they still paid - late fees and all.
Then came the start of the pandemic.
"They stopped paying rent in May of 2020," said Golisano. "She said they don't have money and it's the COVID and I have to work with them, and all kinds of stuff."
"Up until January 15 there was a moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent," explained Golisano's attorney, Lance Mark.
New York's Safe Harbor Act protected tenants who couldn't afford rent. Golisano believes these tenants were taking advantage of it to save money.
"[New York] did allow evictions for tenants that were creating nuisances," said Mark. "This particular case the tenants were creating extreme nuisances."
Mark read off court documents that list:
- Unsanitary conditions
- Damage to a table, siding and more
- Tenants tore up carpet with no authorization
As the months went by with no rent payments, Golisano said the harassment heightened against her.
"Any time landlord went to say something to them she was met with insults, epithets, just harassing behavior on the part of the tenants," explained Mark.
After taking the tenants to court, a judge ordered the tenants to leave by January 2nd.
The tenants left, but they left behind a major headache.
7 Problem Solver Michael Schwartz traveled to Albion to see that the tenants didn't just leave behind personal items. They took it one step further and destroyed the inside.
An inappropriate sketch is drawn on the wall, with toys, food, cigar ashes, bills, and garbage sprawled beneath it. The bathrooms are covered in filth as food rots in the disaster of a kitchen.
When Schwartz went inside with Golisano, she noticed more damaged she said she didn't first see.
"It's mean, it's just terrible how could you do that," cried Golisano. "I don't know how I'm ever going to get through this, I really don't."
Golisano estimated damages before the tenants left were around $9 thousand. But the judge ordered the tenants give her $3,000. She said she hasn't seen a penny of that.
The amount of money estimated to be needed to fix the damage and clean up the mess - $20 thousand.
"Do you have $20,000?" asked Schwartz. "I don't have $200," said Golisano.
"I'm going to have to clean this place myself, because I don’t have the money to pay anybody to clean this," said Golisano
Golisano, who is a cancer survivor, is also battling stage 3 kidney disease. She also said she survived domestic abuse, a heart attack, stoke, and gallbladder surgery.
Golisano said the tenants didn't pay 20 months of rent, which is equivalent to more than $13,000. Add that to the cost of damage and Golisano is out more than $33,000, with an apartment that's uninhabitable.
"As a practical matter she's left with a damaged apartment that shes ultimately going to have to fix up herself and re-rent," said Mark.