Fri. Apr 19th, 2024
alert-–-nyc-squatters-use-shake-shack-receipt-as-proof-they-should-get-legal-protections-for-taking-over-family’s-$950k-homeAlert – NYC squatters use Shake Shack receipt as PROOF they should get legal protections for taking over family’s $950k home

A pair of squatters trying to game New York’s ‘insane’ housing laws are attempting to beat the homeowners in court by using a $25 receipt from Shake Shack to prove they should be protected under state rules.

Denis Kurlyand and Juliya Fulmanof, a married couple who invested $530,000 in a property in Jamaica, Queens, several years ago are now forced to go to court with the brazen would-be tenants, as first reported by DailyMail.com.

On March 5, a broker they were working with visited the property for a site check before allowing tenants to move in and found the locks had been changed. 

Inside the property was Lance Hunt Jr. and Rondie L. Francis, who had set up mattresses, a flat screen TV and a massage table. The men claimed to have legally leased the property months earlier and refused to leave. 

The homeowners are locked in a legal battle with the pair after the alleged squatters hired an attorney to sue them and are making a shock attempt to use the burger chain receipts to prove they’ve lived there for the past 30 days. 

Homeowner Juliya Furmanof pictured outside her Jamaica, Queens, property where two men are living with a fraudulent lease

Homeowner Juliya Furmanof pictured outside her Jamaica, Queens, property where two men are living with a fraudulent lease

Rondie L. Francis, pictured in the courthouse, who reportedly was living in the home unlawfully claims to be a YouTuber

Rondie L. Francis, pictured in the courthouse, who reportedly was living in the home unlawfully claims to be a YouTuber

Lance Hunt, Sr. (pictured) told DailyMail.com his name was Michael. He appeared in court on behalf of his son, Lance Hunt, Jr, one of the alleged squatters. It is unclear if his son ever appeared in court 

The homeowners are locked in a legal battle with the pair after the alleged squatters hired an attorney to sue them and are make a shock attempt to use the burger chain receipts to prove they've lived there for the past 30 days

The homeowners are locked in a legal battle with the pair after the alleged squatters hired an attorney to sue them and are make a shock attempt to use the burger chain receipts to prove they’ve lived there for the past 30 days

As part of their defense, Hunt Jr. and Francis have submitted an application approval letter, a rental lease, mail addressed to them at the home alongside the Shake Shake receipt, which comes out to $25.27.

They claim that Uber Eats delivering the food to their address proves that they’ve been living there. 

Fulmanof claims their documents are ‘clearly photoshopped’ while Kurlyand told the New York Post that ‘everything they’re presenting is fraudulent.’ 

Francis and Hunt argue in a legal filing that they’ve paid $4,000 to cover a security deposit and five months rent, aligning with the lease agreement they claim they’ve signed on January 1.

They add that they ‘dutifully’ paid their rent on both February 1 and March 1.

Francis and Hunt’s goal is to make the court force Fulmanof and Kurlyand to give them a key or let them change the locks.  

An emergency lockout hearing was held on Friday, March 22 at Queens County Civil Court after the squatters’ attorney, Dennis Harris served the couple, the realtor and the real estate company. 

During the 1pm hearing, Rizpah Morrow, who is representing the homeowners asked Judge Vijay M. Kitson for a trial on the grounds that the two men acted in an unlawful manner.

Denis Kurlyand and Fulmanof, a married couple who invested $530,000 in a property in Jamaica, Queens, several years ago now forced to go to court with the brazen would-be tenants

Denis Kurlyand and Fulmanof, a married couple who invested $530,000 in a property in Jamaica, Queens, several years ago now forced to go to court with the brazen would-be tenants

As part of their defense, Hunt Jr. and Francis have submitted an application approval letter, a rental lease, mail addressed to them at the home alongside the Shake Shake receipt

As part of their defense, Hunt Jr. and Francis have submitted an application approval letter, a rental lease, mail addressed to them at the home alongside the Shake Shake receipt

They included several photos of the inside of the home they claim to have illegally occupied

They included several photos of the inside of the home they claim to have illegally occupied

The pair also included mail addressed to them at the home

The pair also included mail addressed to them at the home

‘They perpetrated a fraud,’ Morrow told the judge.

The judge told her that she is entitled to a trial, and said ‘let them come to court and testify.’

But when the judge asked their attorney where his clients were, Harris told the judge one of them ‘had to go to work.’

At this point Ejona Bardhi, the real estate broker with Top Nest Properties, who was also representing the homeowners in court, intervened and told the judge, ‘he left because he did not want to get arrested.’ 

Fulmanof and Kurlyand asked the judge if their new tenants could move in before the next court date. The judge agreed but warned them it may complicate the case. The next court date is April 5. 

After the hearing was adjourned and the chambers doors were closed, Lance Hunt, Sr., the father of the second alleged squatter Lance Hunt, Jr., who told DailyMail.com his name was Michael, walked into the courthouse. 

He tried to enter the judge’s chambers but the court officers told him the session had ended for the day. 

Kurlyand told DailyMail.com he is outraged by what is taking place. He said that he and his wife had to take off a day of work and spend $4,000 on an attorney fees.

‘I’m being sued for illegal lock out, and for damages. They uploaded fake documents and they have an attorney and notary that are working with them to scam innocent homeowners in Queens,’ he said.

‘They are targeting empty homes especially the ones listed on the market and the home owners are not protected. 

‘I intend to pursue them criminally as well as start a class action lawsuit against the city for failing to protect us.’ 

He added: ‘This has to be stopped.’

Ejona Bardhi, the realtor with Top Nest Properties, stands outside Denis and Juliya's home, and was the first to discover the locks had been changed on the doors of the home

Ejona Bardhi, the realtor with Top Nest Properties, stands outside Denis and Juliya’s home, and was the first to discover the locks had been changed on the doors of the home 

Queens County Civil Courthouse where Friday's emergency lockout hearing was held

Queens County Civil Courthouse where Friday’s emergency lockout hearing was held 

Hunt Sr., told DailyMail.com that his son had rented an apartment for $6,000 for a few months. He said that people came to the home, and then his son was removed by police

Hunt Sr., told DailyMail.com that his son had rented an apartment for $6,000 for a few months. He said that people came to the home, and then his son was removed by police 

Denis on the phone waiting for the court hearing to start as Rondie L. Francis, one of the alleged squatters, stands behind him

Denis on the phone waiting for the court hearing to start as Rondie L. Francis, one of the alleged squatters, stands behind him 

Bardhi said she first noticed that one of the locks had been changed on the doors on March 1. At first she assumed it may have been done by the former management company, until they told her they did not touch the locks,

When Bardhi went back to the property on March 4, she noticed the other set of door locks had also been changed, and then saw a dark figure in the window.

‘I saw a man wearing a black hoodie holding a drill in his hand,’ Bardhi recalled.

Alarmed she called police and the homeowners and waited in her car for officers to arrive. While she waited, she noticed more men emerge. She said they started circling her car that was parked in front of the Lakewood Avenue property.

‘They were trying to intimidate me,’ she said. ‘It was bizarre.’

When police arrived, the men told them it was their property and they had been living there since January. Bardhi disputed their claims and said she was just at the home a day prior with a housing inspector.

When officers asked the men for proof of residency, they did not have anything to show, but told the cops they were YouTubers, and left peacefully.

Once they were out, Bardhi and the homeowners were going to place new locks on the door, but the officers told them if they do they will get arrested. 

Upon learning that Bardhi and the homeowners said they were ‘enraged’ 

She told DailyMail.com: ‘The police tells us that they have rights that was the ridiculous part.’

The cops told Bardhi what is happening to her clients is a ‘common scam’ that is happening all over the borough. They told her there is nothing they could do, and that she must take it up in housing court.

The next day the men returned. 

Bardhi along with the homeowners called police again. This time, they showed police a lease with Bardhi’s name and signature on it. 

‘The initial lease they showed me when I first discovered them in the apartment is different from the second forged lease that they provided to the court,’ she said.

‘On the first lease they had my name misspelled not only on the text, but in the actual signature, as if I would accidentally misspell my own name. Unbelievable,’  she told DailyMail.com.

When the couple learned they were being sued by the people who allegedly broke into their home they were shocked, and had to scramble to hire an attorney for the emergency hearing.

Denis was told that if he does not show up in court, the strangers would have the right to occupy his home.

Bardhi, who sells and rents properties all over the tri-state area, said ‘this is the first time she has been in a situation where the squatters have sued.’

‘I don’t think they expected me to check on the property so often, but it’s essential, you have to be diligent when it comes to vacant homes on the market. As the broker you are responsible for that home for the duration of the listing period.’

She said that in previous incidents, the broker and real estate company have handled it, but this time it was different.

‘The guys are trained and coached. It is is something they’ve done before. It’s a scam and it’s insane,’ she said. 

‘The system is what failed us and that is why we are now in court having to pay attorney fees just to deal with these squatters. Enough is enough, it’s time for the homeowners to fight back.’

She said the day they appeared in court, the men brought so many people with them, no one could be identified.

Bardhi added: ‘To this day they refuse to show IDs making it nearly impossible to match a name to the face.’

One of the men's parents, Lance Hunt, Sr.. arrives in court with his scarf covering his face as the homeowner. Denis looks over at him

One of the men’s parents, Lance Hunt, Sr.. arrives in court with his scarf covering his face as the homeowner. Denis looks over at him

Lance Hunt Sr. and Juliya steal a glance at one another in the court house

Lance Hunt Sr. and Juliya steal a glance at one another in the court house 

One of the men living in the house, Rondie L. Francis, claims to be a YouTuber

One of the men living in the house, Rondie L. Francis, claims to be a YouTuber

Juliya, a nurse and mother of two young children, said that she spent years working hard in order to purchase in an investment property and is heartbroken by what is taking place.

‘I have been a nurse for nine years now. I’ve worked as labor delivery nurse, servicing the Brooklyn community. I’ve worked very hard. Then for the past five years, I’ve worked as a home care nurse, servicing New York, including Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, everywhere. 

‘I saved up lots of money to be able to purchase a property, and this is what I now have to deal with? It’s outrageous.’

‘It makes no sense that people think that they can just walk into the home thinking that they can live there while I’m paying a mortgage and they’re not paying anything. It’s actually a criminal activity.’

Juliya and Denis said they went through section 8 housing to find their tenants as their way to contribute to the city’s housing crisis. 

One of the tenants is a young mother, who is student, and her baby. Juliya said she is currently living in a shelter. 

The other tenant is a postal worker with five children, and one of those children is special needs.

The couple said they spent months renovating the home to make it pristine and were distressed after seeing what the squatters had done, including scuff marks on the light wood floors, scrapes on the walls, garbage scattered in their yard. They also said the house had an overpowering stench of marijuana.

Denis also said the men had changed the home’s circuit breakers, and had Spectrum come to the home.  

Bardhi alleged that they had also submitted forged mail as proof to the court.

‘It is very clear when looking at their so-called evidence that everything was photoshopped. I have been at Lakewood for months, and I never saw any mail for anyone other than the homeowners,’ she said.

Overall, she said the ‘evidence’ they showed was ‘ridiculous.’

‘They submitted an UberEats receipt in an attempt to prove they lived at the residence on January 15th… which is hilarious because I held a public open house at Lakewood on Sunday January 21, and I also ordered food to the house.’

She told DailyMail.com that ‘this case could not get anmore absurd.’

The  couple's home on Lakewood Avenue in Jamaica features a studio apartment and a three-bedroom duplex unit that was all set for their new tenants to move-in but everything is now delayed

The  couple’s home on Lakewood Avenue in Jamaica features a studio apartment and a three-bedroom duplex unit that was all set for their new tenants to move-in but everything is now delayed 

Dennis Harris, the attorney representing the squatters, told DailyMail.com that his clients signed a lease and made a payment and have been there since early January.

He said: ‘They showed me a rental application, a lease, text messages and correspondence. They showed me enough for me to believe they were living there.’

‘Is it possible that this is a big scam, certainly anything is possible, but I don’t believe it. If there is a scam they may have been scammed by someone else pretending to be the landlord. 

‘I don’t think my guys orchestrated this scam at a minimum they believe they have a right.’

He added: ‘Either somebody scammed my clients and rented them a house that they did not have the right to rent to them. Or, the owner gave Top Nest the authority to do it and they did it,’ he said, in part.

Dennis Harris, who is representing the squatters in the suit

Dennis Harris, who is representing the squatters in the suit 

Harris said on two occasions, they showed the police enough credentials and they were not removed or asked to leave.  The third time, officers came with the one of the homeowners, and that is when the police reportedly threatened to arrest them.

‘I don’t believe they did anything wrong. I don’t believe they had any ill intent and whoever they rented from they did it on the up and up,’ he said, in part.

At the courthouse was also a man, whose name according to Harris was Lance Hunt, Sr., though he told DailyMail.com that he went by Michael.

Hunt Sr., claimed that he was there to support his son, Lance Hunt, Jr., one of the squatters though it is unclear if he ever came to the courthouse.

Hunt Sr., told DailyMail.com that his son had rented an apartment for $6,000 for a few months. He said that people came to the home, and then his son was removed by police.

‘There’s no dispute against the people that came there, but the way they came there and just gave them no type of situation to even say anything, to do what they had to do the right way,’ he said.

‘They didn’t show any proof of who they were they just had the police remove them from the residence.’

When asked if his ‘son’ went through a real estate broker, he said he was ‘not at liberty to say right now.’

During the conversation, Dennis approached Michael and the men had a heated exchange.

Hunt, Sr. said his son got ‘a raw deal,’ while Dennis responded by telling him that his son and the other squatter [Rondie L. Francis] broke into his property.

Juliya, a nurse and mother of two young children, said that she spent years working hard in order to purchase in an investment property and is heartbroken by what is taking place

 Juliya, a nurse and mother of two young children, said that she spent years working hard in order to purchase in an investment property and is heartbroken by what is taking place

Juliya showing all the squatters' belongings that she put in her garage. The court said the items should remain until the case is resolved

Juliya showing all the squatters’ belongings that she put in her garage. The court said the items should remain until the case is resolved

Rizpah Morrow, the attorney for Denis and Juliya, whose company is called Lakewood Queens Property, LLC, believes the men saw the house was vacant and went into it. 

Morrow told DailyMail.com: ‘My client has the the litigation pending against them. The squatters are claiming they have a right to possession. They are not able to have their legal tenants move-in because it will complicate the litigation.’

She added: ‘They now have successfully stalled the preceding in the housing court. This is an abuse of the system and real tenant right. ‘Now we are waiting until April 5 for a resolution.’