Everyone loves a good David & Goliath story — especially when it plays out in the world of New York City real estate and pits a powerless underdog against a powerful developer.
A man who refuses to leave his New York City apartment after the building was sold last year suspects his new landlords are trying to evict him with unnecessary construction and a noisy air filter.
Ahmet Nejat Ozsu was asked to leave his perfect NYC apartment, his home of 16 years. If the tenant happily agreed to move out, there perhaps wouldn’t be a story about it on Inside Edition. As you may have guessed, the man refused to do so.
Our Goliath is Niki Naftali of the Naftali Group, who has paid $71 million for a parcel that spans 207-221 W. 84th St. — including the building that contains Ozsu’s apartment — and has plans to raze the buildings and replace them with an 18-story luxury condo project with 45 residential units, ground-floor retail and 17 parking spots.
Ozsu has been living at the Eagle Court building on the city’s Upper West Side for 16 years. He pays $3,350 a month for a 700-square-foot one-bedroom apartment with a private deck on the top floor, though he owes over $13,000 in back rent.
Ozsu and his landlord are now locked in a standoff after Ozsu applied for pandemic-era rental support. If approved, it could delay its eviction for years.
Y. David Scharf, representing the Naftali Group, filed a suit accusing attorney Adam Leitman Bailey of abusing the legal system to delay the developer’s project at 215 West 84th Street. Naftali is seeking $25 million in damages from Bailey, who was hired by the holdout tenant.
“Adam is not seeking a legitimate judicial outcome here. He’s abusing the system for delay’s sake to force a cash payout,” said Scharf, a co-managing partner at Morrison Cohen and chairman of the law firm. “Frankly, he’s treating this as a game.”
Bailey denies the claims and calls the suit one of many attempts to pressure his client, a longtime building resident, to leave.
Ozsu’s lawyer, Adam Leitman Bailey, claims that the developer is “bullying” his client to rush the moving process.
“His view is now that he’s standing up for all New Yorkers who couldn’t afford a high-priced lawyer,” Bailey said. ‘And he’s going to stay there for as long as he’s legally allowed to be there, number one.”
Nevertheless, the new landlords have been doing whatever they can to bother Ozsu to get him to move out. Their latest ploy is a loud air filter outside of his door.
“It sounds like a jet,” Ozsu told the Times. “It feels like it’s at the back of your head all the time.”
Watch it here: InsideEdition/AirTV