William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 13 Jul 2005 09:14:14 -0400


'Homeless' renter booted from flat


A Manhattan judge has evicted a "homeless man" who waged a legal battle to
keep his $104-a-month apartment despite refusing to live there.
Michael Tsitsires was ordered to give up the studio flat in the dilapidated
Windemere, a historic building on W. 57th St. at Ninth Ave., after a trial
in which his own shrink said he was claustrophobic and "hated" his
"This court is not condemning [Tsitsires] to a life of homelessness," said
Civil Court Judge Gerald Lebovits, in a ruling published yesterday. "Whether
by choice or circumstance, [he] is already homeless."
Building owner, Toa Construction, first sued to evict Tsitsires in 2000
under laws that prohibit tenants from remaining in rent-stabilized
apartments not used as their primary residence.
According to court papers, Tsitsires had "abandoned the apartment to live on
the streets, in the park, on stoops and at his friends' homes." He also
applied for public housing, claiming he was homeless.
But he claimed he was still occupying the apartment because he stored his
belongings, received his mail and let his girlfriend shower there.
Lebovits said that wasn't enough.
"The Legislature's objective of protecting the housing stock will not be
advanced by allowing respondent to use the subject apartment as he did," the
judge said.
It's not clear when Tsitsires originally moved into the Windemere, once a
fashionable Manhattan address.
When it opened in 1881, it was only the second rental apartment building in
the city and wealthy tenants occupied its spacious apartments.
Later, it evolved into an SRO and became notorious in the 1980s when its
former managers were arrested for harassing tenants by moving in
prostitutes, kicking in doors and ransacking rooms.
Neither Tsitsires nor his lawyer could be reached for comment yesterday.
Tenants said just a half dozen residents remain in the eight-story building.
"After they terrorized us, Michael changed. He didn't trust anybody and
basically he became separated from all of the other tenants," said Dennis
Neville, 50, who has lived there for 31 years.

Originally published on July 13, 2005

All contents  2005 Daily News, L.P.