CARS HOMES JOBS

Two sue over dorm eviction

Lawyer: Men forced out without due process

Saturday, May 10, 2014
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Schenectady County Community College's student housing project at 117 Washington Ave. opened in 2012.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Schenectady County Community College's student housing project at 117 Washington Ave. opened in 2012.

— Two members of the inaugural group of students to live in the new student residences at Schenectady County Community College are now suing the company that manages the facility, saying they were thrown out unjustly.

The attorney for students Stephen Bert and Steven McQueen filed the suit recently in state Supreme Court in Rensselaer County, alleging breach of lease, unlawful eviction and other claims.

According to the suit, Bert and McQueen were both residents at College Suites at Washington Square from Sept. 1, 2012, until they were thrown out April 26, 2013. Their lease was to continue through August.

The two are represented by attorney Mark Gaylord. Gaylord said this week they were never given specifics on what they supposedly did to get thrown out. Instead, they were pressured to sign a paper saying they would leave immediately.

Even if they were given specific reasons, the suites are governed by the same rental rules as other apartments in the city that include an eviction process. There was no opportunity to correct any problems alleged, Gaylord said.

“They did none of that,” Gaylord said, “They just threw them out.”

Named as defendants in the suit are United Suites at Washington Square LLC and the Troy-based United Reality Management Group Corp. Efforts to reach someone at United Reality were unsuccessful.

The college is not named as a defendant because the facility is separate from the college.

Bert and McQueen are each seeking $570,000 in damages.

Gaylord said the two were thrown out after Bert returned to find the rental manager and police searching the suite. He never found out why they were there, and no charges were filed against anyone, Gaylord said.

“All he knows is that five hours after they got there, he was forced to sign a letter saying he was leaving,” Gaylord said.

McQueen was pressured to sign the letter, as well, though other residents of the suite were allowed to stay, Gaylord said.

The letter listed two violations, one alleging a violation of a prohibition on drug paraphernalia and the other indicating the resident is responsible for the conduct of visitors and guests, according to the letter signed by Bert and provided by Gaylord.

“Based on these violations you must vacate the premises immediately,” the letter reads in all capital letters.

But Gaylord argues there is no indication of how they violated the rules and they’ve never been told how. Regardless, a tenant can’t be put out on the street without due process, he said.

The suites opened to pizza and games in September 2012. The building was the $13 million, 112,000-square-foot project of United Group. The result was room to house 264 students. It is located directly across Washington Avenue from the college.

College officials looked to the dorm as a way to attract students from the Capital Region and beyond.

Both Bert and McQueen are residents of the Bronx. Bert finished out the semester while staying with friends. McQueen returned home to the Bronx, but finished his classes after returning by bus.

Bert continues to attend classes at the college. McQueen is back in New York City doing an internship, Gaylord said.

 
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