Landlords in New York City are notoriously tough. But one building owner on the Upper East Side is going so far as to evict a 100-year-old woman. Our Michael Scotto has the exclusive details.
For more than 50 years, Justa Lopez has welcomed family and friends into her small rent-controlled apartment on the Upper East Side.
But now the 100-year-old fears she will have to find a new place to live after her landlord served her with eviction papers.
"I don't know how long I’m going to live. But I don't know why he's so mean to me. I'm not going to be 200," Lopez said.
The eviction threat stems from a fall she took in her East 78th Street apartment last November when she broke her pelvic bone.
She's been recovering ever since. First in the hospital, then at a nursing home, and now at her daughter's home on Long Island.
Lopez never missed a rent payment but in July the landlord slapped her with court papers saying she was no longer living there.
"He has no right to do that to me," Lopez said.
According to the state, a rent-controlled apartment must be a person's primary residence. But there are exceptions.
"If one is away from the apartment in order to receive medical treatment, then that doesn't count as being away from the apartment at all," said Dov Treiman, Justa's lawyer.
NY1 first heard about Lopez' plight from her daughter-in-law, NY1 anchor Roma Torre.
Lopez is convinced the landlord wants her out so he can jack up the rent.
She pays just $149 a month, a reflection of her living there for so long. By comparison, another two bedroom unit in the building rented for $2,700 a month last year.
Lopez believes the landlord tracked her absence with this surveillance camera, trained on her front door. It's one of at least three in the building.
Even more infuriating to Lopez, she blames her broken pelvis on the condition of her apartment floor which caused her walker to roll away from her.
"Where, where, where, and I get so panicky right now that I fall on the floor," Lopez said.
Lopez says she pleaded with the landlord to level the floor. Taking a look at the piano, it's on an angle. Her walker in the kitchen, keeps moving when let go.
"He never listen. Never listen to anything complaints about the floor, about my fall and I went into the hospital," Lopez said.
NY1 reached out to the landlord, Paley Management Corporation, and the landlord's lawyer.
Both did not return calls seeking comment.