Some wealthy tenants in the Hamptons are using New York state’s non-eviction order to squat in luxury while weathering out the coronavirus crisis, local landlords have claimed.
One homeowner, who chose to remain anonymous but identified as middle-class, said that short-term renters are overstaying at his property in Sag Harbor and refusing to pay rent.
Properties in the Hamptons rent for much less in the winter and early spring months, when the coronavirus outbreak began, but can ask for thousands more in the summer months.
‘We’re not talking about poor people,’ the anonymous told the NYPost. ‘[…]It’s a very modest Sag Harbor house. And we use our summer rental to pay our son’s school.’
The squatter was paying $3,600 a month between October and March but claimed he didn’t have rent for April and dismissed the homeowner’s requests to vacate the property.
The landlord said he is now looking at huge losses for the year – $15,000 in May alone with an extra $55,000 between Memorial and Labor days.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has postponed rent payments until at least 20 August to help those struggling during the coronavirus crisis. The owner believes his tenants are using it for a free stay in his Long Island property.
Similar scenes are playing out along the string of affluent seaside communities.
A female landlord in Watermill said her tenants, a mother and daughter, stopped paying their $1,600 rent in March when Gov Cuomo announced the move.
The homeowner has cancer and is looking to start chemotherapy soon. She said she is afraid she will lose her home and doesn’t know how she’ll cope with the stress of that and treatment.
She could be earning $90,000 this summer, she told the Post, and she even offered the tenants a one-off payment to coax them out before peak season.
‘I’ve offered her money to leave and even found her other places to move to that she could afford, but they aren’t in the Hamptons, and she is refusing to leave,’ the tenant said.
She added: ‘This is when we make our money, in the summer. [The tenant] is looking for a free ride in the Hamptons.’
Andrew Saunders, of Saunders & Associates, a leading Hamptons brokerage firm, said that the laws introduced recently by Gov Cuomo ‘allow it to happen’.
He added that some of the squatting tenants are preventing brokers from entering the homes to show new buyers when they are listed for sale.
The eviction moratorium does not excuse tenants from paying rent. They should expect to pay each month or face paying a lump sum once the postponement is lifted on 20 August.
News of the squatting in the upmarket Long Island neighborhoods comes days after the New York Times revealed that five per cent of the city’s residents, mostly made up of its richest citizens, already fled the Big Apple when the virus began to spread.
From 1 March to 1 May, about 420,000 residents of a city of 8.4 million people left the Big Apple to weather the coronavirus storm.
While there was relatively little change in some zip codes, wealthy districts like SoHo, the West Village, Morningside Heights, the Upper East Side, the Financial District, Midtown, Gramercy and Brooklyn Heights emptied by at least 40 per cent.
Meanwhile, Manhattan’s overall population has fallen by almost 20 per cent as the lockdown enters its third month.
Income was perhaps the strongest indicator of how many residents in a particular neighborhood had fled.
The sample population was 140,000 people from nearly every census-counted neighborhood in the five boroughs.
The Times found that residents from neighborhoods where the median income is $90,000 or less (the bottom 80th percentile) stayed in their homes.
About 10 per cent of those is the top 10th percentile fled and about 25 per cent of the top 5th percentile did the same.
However, more than one-third – 35 per cent – of the top one per cent – escaped to summer homes in Long Island, upstate New York, or other states.
According to CNBC, the top one per cent of New York City earns bout $2.2million per year on average and the top five per cent annual income is about $480,780.
The data is consistent with other reports of wealthy New York City residents having left.
People that live in vacation towns, such as the Hamptons in Long Island and the Catskills in upstate, complained that their grocery stores were being emptied by city people who were living in their summer homes.
Last month, officials said the price of rental homes in the Hamptons soared from $5,000 per month to more than $30,000 for a two-week period.
Small town populations practically doubled as Big Apple residents fled to their summer homes, but locals said city dwellers were bringing COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, with them.