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Inside One Ansonia Resident's Battle to Keep Her Stabilized Pad

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It's no secret that rent-regulated apartments are increasingly elusive—and increasingly hard to hold onto—but what remains more tightly under wraps is the hack logic landlords are using to evict rent-regulated tenants. The most recent insight into the sorry processes comes via real estate writer Matt (A.V.) Chaban at the New York Times, who profiles the classic UWS co-op The Ansonia's case against 36-year tenant Marieliz Unwin, who uses her $1,100 per month one-bedroom, rent-regulated apartment as a live-work space.

The struggle is this: the Ansonia's landlord took Unwin to court seeking to evict her, claiming her minimally furnished space is not her primary residence, which is instead a home she rents upstate. After sending an undercover private detective posing as a client into Unwin's home ("Although the bathroom had some fragrant soaps and hand sanitizer for client use, I could not find a toothbrush or any other personal items that might have belonged to Unwin,"), combing through Unwin's credit card statements to determine how long she was out of town (97 days in the course of three years; negligible compared to the 183 days per year that would be grounds for eviction), and latching onto Unwin's claim to 100-percent of her rent as a business deduction, The Ansonia's landlord had built a strong contrived case.

The appellate court ruled in Unwin's favor, but not without shaking their finger at her "exploitive and manipulative tenant conduct." Unwin has since moved her business to a Madison Avenue studio that costs nearly three times as much as her Ansonia pad. "You never know how things are going to turn out and if the judge is going to use this against me," Unwin told the Times, "I've learned to be very careful..."
· Long Fight to Keep a Grand Address on the Upper West Side [NYT]
· From Utopia to Scandal to Luxury, The History of the Ansonia [Curbed]