A Brooklyn homeowner unable to evict an allegedly deadbeat tenant because of new state housing laws claims she has been forced to live in her car for weeks.
Shawna Eccles, 30, says in court papers she sleeps on the couches of friends and relatives whenever she can, and in her four-door Toyota when she can’t, after fighting and failing for months to evict Sharita Patterson, 33, from the two-family home in Carnarsie.
“There is no one I can stay with until I am able to evict, and all of my money covers the mortgage, water bill and property taxes,” Eccles told The Post. “If anything gets cut off, it will be considered an illegal eviction. I have no additional funds to rent an apartment.”
Thanks to the state’s pandemic-inspired eviction moratorium and recently enacted housing regulations, Patterson has until at least May 1 before any New York housing court would even consider a case against her.
That’s because she checked a box on a “hardship declaration” form, claiming she’s been financially impacted by COVID-19 and is unable to move. Under the new rules, New Yorkers had until Feb. 26 to fill out the form, which automatically pauses their evictions.
Patterson, who allegedly owes $14,700 in back rent on the two-bedroom pad, bought a new car during the pandemic, according to court papers.
And the city’s Department of Social Services recently told Eccles that Patterson has rejected their offers of rental assistance so she could find a new apartment, the landlord claims.
The “hardship declaration” seems to be a free pass, the landlord said.
“They don’t have to prove it and they don’t allow us to challenge it,” said Eccles, who has been trying to evict Patterson since August.
Eccles bought the two-story, semi-detached home on East 91st street for about $477,000 in February 2019, spending her savings to renovate it, turning the somewhat rundown, barely 1,500-square-foot structure into an updated, modern home.
Patterson, who was supposed to pay $2,100 a month, was her first tenant.
Without any rental income for months, Eccles thought she was close to a legal settlement with Patterson in December. Believing Patterson was about to vacate, she rented the home’s first floor to an elderly woman and moved out to temporarily live with friends.
When Patterson backed out at the last minute, and signed the hardship declaration, Eccles was essentially left homeless.
One neighbor said, “I have seen her in the car in the driveway.”
Another neighbor, who has heard the two women arguing, said, “It’s very unfortunate. She said she was the first in her family to buy a house.
“There were times when Shawna was scared.”
Patterson, a mother of three, has allegedly threatened Eccles, filed 51 false complaints about the building with the city, flooded the bathroom, leaves dirty diapers and trash around the property, broke the front door lock and replaced it without giving anyone else the key, blocks the driveway, and runs an illegal candle business out of the apartment, the landlord claims in legal papers.
Patterson has accused Eccles of harassing her, according to court papers. The tenant could not be reached.
The case “highlights a terrible lack of balance between the rights of landlords and tenants in New York City, and is a prime example of the state government’s failure to properly address the housing situation,” said Eccles’ lawyer, David Gerard. He said small landlords are in “truly unfair and untenable situations.”