The Real Deal New York

Harlem landlord: Senegal owes me $135K!

City refusing to evict diplomats who refused to pay taxes, bills

February 17, 2016 08:30AM

Cheikh Niang 115 West 116th

Senegal’s Ambassador to the U.S., Cheikh Niang, and the consolate office at 115 West 116th Street in Harlem

Mitchell Mekles, owner of 101-115 West 116th Street in Harlem, is fighting his own personal war with the Senegalese government and U.S. government enablers.

The Fort Lee-based landlord, who runs Mitchell Enterprises, rents 5,000 square feet at the building for a Senegalese consulate office, but the diplomats have allegedly been stiffing him on payments for real estate taxes and water bills. When he complained, the consulate stopped paying rent entirely.

When Mekles obtained an eviction order, federal marshals refused to carry it out, citing directives from the US Office of Foreign Missions and the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs.

In total, Mekles says he’s owed $135,000 in taxes, rent, water bills, legal fees and interest. according to his lawyer, the New York Post reported.

A representative of the consulate said the rent, at least has been taken care of.

“We had some delays due to bureaucratic issues but it is now paid for,” he told the Post.

On the issue of the taxes, the spokesperson cited the Vienna Convention, which governs requirements for diplomatic corps in foreign countries.

“We are sorting it out,” the diplomat told the Post.

Article 23.1 of the Convention states: The sending State and the head of the mission shall be exempt from all national, regional or municipal dues and taxes in respect of the premises of the mission, whether owned or leased, other than such as represent payment for specific services rendered.

Mekles also accuses the consulate of exceeding its allotted space, spreading into 8,500 square feet at the Harlem office building, crowding out another tenant, iHope, a school for disabled children. [NYP]Ariel Stulberg

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