NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Staten Island couple is dealing with an eviction moratorium nightmare.
Their tenants allegedly haven’t paid rent in a year and a half, but they can’t kick them out, despite lavish parties and neighbors’ complaints.
Instagram video shows a house party complete with a red carpet leading to the front door. Inside, there’s dancing and karaoke. In another video, Christmas gifts are piled high.
Renters of the 5,000 square foot home appear to be living a lavish lifestyle, but their landlord says they haven’t paid rent in 18 months and can’t evict them.
“It’s insulting to my family,” landlord Michael Mesheriakov told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge. “I don’t see any rational person can wrap their brains aroudn how can this family get away with so much for so long.”
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Michael and Irina Mesheriakov bought the house on Edgegrove Street on Staten Island in 2007.
To save money while Irina went to medical school, they moved into his parents’ home in 2018 and rented out their house for $4,500 a month to couple Nicodemus Miller and Kim Demetro.
The landlords say Miller and Demetro paid rent for eight months then suddenly stopped in May of 2019.
Neighbors started to complain about noise and garbage.
The Mesheriakovs have another unrelated tenant living in the basement suite in the home who pays her rent on time.
“I’ve been here for three and a half years, and pretty much from the moment they came, just, things started happening. I mean, my mail disappears,” the tenant, who did not want to be identified, said. “They also have loud parties. One of them started at, like, 3 o’clock in the morning.”
The landlords filed an eviction notice with the housing court, and tension escalated.
In one confrontation, Miller claimed the house was his, telling Michael Mesheriakov, “Get out of my house.”
The court took months to process the eviction, and in that time, the tenants stalled, filing for bankruptcy despite continuing to post a large lifestyle.
Then the pandemic hit, and in March, the state banned evictions due to economic fallout from the coronavirus.
“We had warrants for the tenants’ eviction way before the pandemic started. We have proven in court that they’re not experiencing hardship. We have evidence that they’re not following any social rules or guidelines, but yet,” Michael Mesheriakov said.
“They’re protected by law,” Irina Mesheriakov said.
Under the current law, tenants can sign a form saying they’re experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 and they are protected from eviction until May 1, 2021.
Legal experts say it’s too easy for people who are financially stable to take advantage and not pay rent.
“Welcome to my nightmare because I see this tens of thousands of times,” landlord/tenant attorney Robert Rosenblatt said. “It’s a delicate balance. When you protect the tenants, you hurt the landlords.”
To date, the Mesheriakovs are out $80,000 in rent owed, not to mention bills and repairs.
Throughout this whole ordeal, Irina finished school and is a front line doctor, looking after COVID patients. She just wants her home back.
CBS2 News went with the couple to try to talk to the tenants. Someone came to the door but wouldn’t answer. Instead, they called police, claiming the landlords were harrassing them.
The Mesheriakovs are now filing their fourth eviction motion in court, hoping there’s an exception to the state’s rules, which they say are being abused.
Once the tenants found out we were reporting this story, a legal representative said they would return the keys by the end of January.
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