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A Long Island man claims he should be allowed to stay in his house — even though he hasn’t paid the mortgage in more than 20 years — because he contracted COVID-19.
Guramrit Hanspal, 52, has leveraged the courts to avoid being booted from his two-story East Meadow home, filing multiple lawsuits and bankruptcies in a so far successful bid to stay without having paid a penny since 1998.
Hanspal’s latest gambit to stay is to claim he suffered financial hardship because he was diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to a Thursday proceeding in Nassau County Housing Court.
The Kenmore Street home, which was foreclosed on years ago, is currently owned by a company called Diamond Ridge Partners, which is seeking to oust Hanspal.
It’s unclear when Hanspal contracted the illness, or what financial hardship he endured because of it.
The COVID-19 Hardship Declaration forms let renters impacted by the pandemic claim financial problems without having to provide proof, and can typically delay an eviction for months.
A Diamond Ridge lawyer says the pandemic protection doesn’t apply to Hanspal, who didn’t show up for the hearing before Judge William Hohauser.
Hanspal is protected under the recently enacted pandemic protection laws, his attorney, William D. Friedman, told Hohauser.
“It’s clearly within this statute to protect people who said they had COVID and, for purposes of the argument today, he had COVID, he said he had COVID and they’ve done nothing to rebut that. And I just think they’re stuck with that,” Friedman said.
But COVID protections are intended to help renters and other tenants who pay, insisted Diamond Ridge lawyer Jordan Katz, whose client simply wants Hanspal and other residents of the home to vacate.
“…A lease has never been provided” to Hanspal, Katz said. “There is no obligation to pay rent in this matter. There is no lease or other tenancy agreement. None of the occupants are tenants.”
The hearing came a week after one of the home’s occupants, Bhagwant Srichawala, 32, died in a Long Island Expressway crash.
His attorney, David Gevanter, argued Srichawala’s estate should take the dead man’s place in the eviction battle, noting Srichawala had also submitted a hardship declaration.
But that legal argument doesn’t make sense, Katz responded, noting tenancy rights end when a person dies.
Hohauser reserved decision on the case. The next court date was not set.
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