Ex-con returns to rent-controlled apartment, forcing out market-rate tenant

Housing court improperly allowed eviction of former prisoner
August 12, 2015 03:02PM

The city’s court system handed another win to Manhattan’s ultimate insiders, occupiers of rent-controlled apartments, ruling that a former drug-addled ex-con will move back to the West Village apartment he was evicted from, forcing out the market-rate tenant who replaced him.

Otto Thompson, the original tenant of apartment No. 1C at 46 Downing Street, will move back in September after a housing court in June determined the same court erred in allowing the landlord to evict him in 2010.

The situation was a classic “catch-22” — Thompson’s landlord filed for eviction because Thompson had allegedly sublet the apartment without permission. Thompson would not likely have sublet the apartment if he had not been imprisoned on a burglary conviction in 2009, which is also the reason he was unable to appear in court to fight eviction proceedings. He had lived in the apartment for over 50 years and paid $450 in monthly rent.

Meanwhile, the tenant who replaced him in 2012, Tomoko Watabe, was paying $2,500 for the one-bedroom. She will be forced to vacate the apartment on Sept. 30. Watabe is appealing her eviction and the landlord is paying her legal fees. [NYT]Marynia Kruk