Eviction reversed: Judge rules on Nir Meir’s wife in Miami Beach
Landlord alleged nonpayment of February rent totaling $135K. Judge disagreed.
Armed guards were posted in front of Nir Meir and Ranee Bartolacci’s waterfront Miami Beach estate, as the drama surrounding their court-ordered eviction unfolded in recent days.
Meir and Bartolacci had been successfully evicted from the home last week, but Meir wasn’t backing down. At one point, Meir allegedly returned to the house, and was inside speaking with a contractor, according to court records. Police were called three days in a row. By the third day, this past Wednesday, the landlord sought an emergency order to enforce the eviction.
But on Friday, the judge reversed his earlier decision, vacating the eviction. Meir and Bartolacci have the right to remain at their home.
The eviction saga is just one of Meir’s many made-for-TV court battles since he was forced out of HFZ Capital Group in late 2020. Meir led the New York-based development firm with its founder Ziel Feldman. It was once viewed as one of Manhattan’s most prominent condo developers. In Miami Beach, it also had a planned condo-hotel development at the Shore Club, a project that HFZ canceled in 2017.
But the company collapsed amid lawsuits and foreclosures. Meir and Feldman have been battling creditors and each other for over two years. Feldman blames Meir for the company’s downfall.
After selling his Hamptons estate to Robert Kraft in 2021, Meir and his family quickly departed to Miami Beach. They signed a lease with developer Mathieu Massa for the more than 7,500-square-foot Sunset Islands home at 1826 West 23rd Street, which was asking $150,000 a month.
Four months into their lease, in August 2021, Massa’s company sued Bartolacci for violating the lease by adding numerous additions and alterations to the house, including installing a new wood dock, air conditioning, trees and planters. Bartolacci allegedly replaced the natural grass with fake grass, changed the fountain to a fish pond, installed a jet ski floating deck and more, according to the complaint. Bartolacci countered, claiming the home was delivered to her in a “dilapidated state of disrepair, neglect, and uninhabitability.”
As part of the lawsuit, Massa sought to evict Bartolacci. The legal drama dragged on until October of last year, when the two parties settled and dropped the lawsuit.
Yet, after settling, the landlord once again attempted to evict Bartolacci for nonpayment of rent.
In late February, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Pedro Echarte Jr. ruled that Bartolacci had breached the agreement by failing to pay February’s rent of $135,000. The judge approved a writ of possession, setting the stage for eviction.
Last Friday, Bartolacci and her family were evicted.
The property returned to the market, asking $155,000 a month with Corcoran Group’s Julian Johnston, a top broker who was named as a third-party defendant.
But that’s when the standoff began. The landlord claimed that the tenant hired armed security guards who followed them around the house, intimidating the landlord’s representative. The guards were issued a trespass warning.
“Tenant’s armed security guards are parking their vehicle … walking up and down the street and standing near the front of the landlord’s property,” the emergency motion filed Wednesday states.
At one point, after Meir was found inside with a contractor, Meir and his armed security guard moved to the front of the property and “yelled” at Massa’s representative. Meir was “very intimidating, making her shaken and very afraid,” the motion states. That is when the landlord sought an emergency motion to enforce the eviction.
Two days later, Judge Echarte did just the opposite. On a Zoom hearing Friday morning, Bartolacci’s attorney, Olga Vieira, persuaded the judge to vacate the eviction.
Vieira argued a clause in the settlement agreement states the landlord should use the security deposit if the tenant defaulted on payments. She said Massa’s lawyer “misinterpreted and misportrayed” that the landlord had not received rent, when it had the $125,000 security deposit at the time of the earlier ruling. Bartolacci also attempted to transfer an additional $10,000 to cover the outstanding rent.
Based on that argument, Bartolacci would then have 14 days to replenish the deposit.
“It is our position that this landlord has engaged in bad faith 10 to 14 days prior to the ex-parte emergency motion claiming nonpayment of rent,” Vieira said.
Bartolacci is wrapping up her second year renting the property. Meir’s name is not on the lease, but he has been living at the home with Bartolacci and their children, according to court records.
Massa, a developer and restaurateur in Miami who owns the popular Queen Miami Beach, El Tucán and Marion Miami, disagrees with the decision.
“This court previously stated that the tenant’s position was frivolous, and we stand by that position. We … will be pursuing all rights to correct the current circumstances,” said Massa, CEO of Massa Investment Group.
“I think it’s absurd the judge is letting them use the security deposit to pay rent,” listing agent Johnston said.
Meir is still in litigation with a former HFZ investor, YH Lex Estates, an entity affiliated with Israeli auto magnate Yoav Harlap, over an $18.5 million judgment issued against Meir in 2021.
The investor alleges that Meir has avoided paying on the judgment and moved to Miami Beach, where he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on fine wine, private jets and yacht charters. Meir’s lawyers denied the allegations by Harlap.
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