Brooklyn woman gets evicted while on vacation

New York Daily News
She hasn't been let back into her apartment despite court order throwing out the eviction
By Erin Durkin
March 25, 2012

A Brooklyn woman was on vacation in Mexico in January when she found out she had been booted from her Park Slope apartment. Summer Brennan, 32, still hasn’t been let back in despite a court settlement throwing out the eviction ­ and now she’s fighting back with a website, fightmyevillandlord.com. “They shouldn’t be able to just harass me out,” said Brennan, who also continues to battle landlord Robert Lewis in court.

Brennan said she was shocked when she got a call from a neighbor while on a New Year’s trip with her boyfriend in Mexico, saying that an eviction notice had been slapped on the door of the rent-stabilized apartment where she has lived for six years ­ and that the locks were being changed. She said she had paid all of her rent on time ­ but the landlord didn’t cash the checks. Brennan, who works for the United Nations, has been crashing on friends’ couches and living out of the bag she packed for what was supposed to be a two-week stay in Mexico. “It’s been a real challenge,” she said. “I haven’t gotten more than four hours’ sleep a night in more than two months.”

All of her possessions ­ including a cello and her mom and grandmother’s jewelry ­ were removed from the apartment and held in a Brooklyn warehouse by a company demanding thousands in cash to release it, she said. Brennan quickly went to court and got a settlement invalidating the eviction. Yet the landlord hasn’t let her back in ­ instead, he moved in new tenants the day before she was set to return. Calls to Lewis and the building manager were not returned.

But Lewis has a history of troubles: He was sued by then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in 2007 for allowing a building manager to sexually harass female tenants. Brennan believes the landlord had it out for her because she got her rent lowered by discovering it had been jacked up higher than legally allowed. He’s even suing Brennan’s mom in California, who co-signed her original lease, for the cost of renovating the apartment, Brennan said. Brennan said she decided to turn to public shaming by using the website, which features photos of her carefully decorated home and the garden she planted in the backyard, after efforts to get help from the city and police went nowhere. “I was so exhausted, I didn’t know what to do anymore,” she said. “It’s my home. At this point, it does seem like a nightmare.”