A Manhattan cancer survivor claims her landlord harassed her and evicted her from her apartment, because the apartment’s management company was afraid she would not be able to pay rent if her illness returned, according to a lawsuit filed Jan. 25 in Manhattan Federal Court, DNAinfo.com reported.
In the lawsuit, Heatheran Kristopher, 43, said once new management took over the Upper East Side building in 2011, the landlord started harassing her.
“I feel completely alone,” Kristopher told DNAinfo.com. “I feel completely lost right now. I know it’s only an apartment, but it’s just what I went through here. I healed myself here. I came home from chemo and laid in this backyard.”
Kristopher battled ovarian and colon cancer in 2008, which is when she moved into the apartment on East 81st Street.
She went through chemotherapy and radiation at Memorial Sloan Kettering and ultimately fell behind on her rent. She owed more than $10,000 when the new management company, Stone Street Properties LLC, took over the building in September 2011. The month prior, Kristopher signed a two-year lease with the previous owners, Icon Management – but said she never received a printed copy of the lease before Stone Street took over.
In September, Kristopher said her new landlords began pressing her to leave.
Court papers indicate Robert Morgenstern, co-founder of Stone Street, showed up at her door and demanded the $5,000. Kristopher said she told Morgenstern she had cancer and claims that’s when he started yelling at her.
“How do I know you’re not going to get cancer again?” Morgenstern asked her, according to court documents.
Stone Street told Kristopher her new lease was not valid, according to documents, even urging her to sign a lesser lease. The company also tried to increase her rent by $700, according to the lawsuit.
In November 2011, Stone Street tried to evict Kristopher, to which she filed a discrimination claim with the New York Division of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the New York State Division of Human Rights. She later withdrew the petition to the human rights agency so she could file a federal lawsuit.
Kristopher was forced to leave the building Monday when the New York Supreme Court ruled in Stone Street’s favor.
“She’s a sour grapes tenant, who was evicted because she had no lease,” Morgenstern told DNAInsider. He claims he never made a comment about Kristopher’s illness. “I categorically deny any wrongdoing.”