Aug 05, 2022
New York Times' house hunting writer Joyce Cohen is SUED for $35,000 by couple who sublet her their apartment during the pandemic but claim she stopped paying $3,000-a-month rent
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The New York Times's housing columnist is being sued by her landlord over allegations of $35,000 in unpaid rent.
Joyce Cohen, who writes the popular series The Hunt, featuring the trials and tribulations of New Yorkers attempting to navigate the city's real estate swamp, was sued on Tuesday in New York Supreme Court.
Cohen and her husband, Benjamin Meltzer, are accused of subletting an apartment on the Upper West Side while their own home two blocks away was near another being renovated, and then refusing to pay the rent.
The couple took over the apartment in November 2020, after it was advertised on Craigslist. They were looking for somewhere quiet, as Cohen suffers from hyperacusis - a condition of extreme sensitivity to noise, which forces her to wear industrial-grade ear protection when she leaves the home.
The original renters, Amit and Jasmine Matta, moved to another property they owned as it was more suitable for their daughter during the pandemic, and Jasmine was recovering from cancer.
Cohen and Meltzer agreed to pay $2,999 a month, on the understanding that it was a temporary arrangement and that the owner of the building on West 72nd Street was unaware it was being sublet.
Joyce Cohen, a housing reporter, is being sued with her husband over allegations of $35,000 in unpaid rent
Cohen and her husband Benjamin Meltzer both suffer from hyperacusis, meaning extreme sensitivity to noise. When building work began near their home they needed to move temporarily
Cohen is pictured with her cat. The New York Times' housing reporter is now being sued with her husband, accused of failing to pay rent on a sublet
When the landlord found out, in August 2021, the Mattas say they asked Cohen and Meltzer to move out, but claim the couple refused.
'Defendant's behavior is rich with irony and hypocrisy since the rent Defendants refuse to pay is less than the current rental market value of Plaintiff's Residence,' the Mattas wrote in the complaint.RELATED ARTICLES
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The Mattas emphasize in their complaint, obtained by Insider, that Cohen and Meltzer displayed extensive knowledge of the legal context in their communications with them, when discussing how to handle the situation.
Cohen and Meltzer emailed the Mattas and said they needed to get lawyers involved, to prevent the Mattas being evicted, and said they would pay the legal fees.
'Hi Amit,' Cohen wrote.
'We read the documents carefully. Your landlord is planning to evict you.
'Anything you communicate to the building can and will be used against you, and against us.
'This situation calls for professional legal help. Ben and I are hiring a lawyer. The lawyer should be the only one communicating with the building.
'We will cover the lawyer's fee.'
The Mattas said that they offered to work with Cohen and Meltzer to find a solution, provided that Cohen and Meltzer moved out, but the couple refused to budge.
The building on the Upper West Side is let by the Mattas, and sublet by Cohen and her husband. Now the Mattas want the couple to leave
Cohen is pictured out and about with her hearing protection
The Mattas claim that the pair then stopped paying rent: the couple insist that they 'have been paying rent all along', with the money deposited into an escrow account.
The Mattas further insist that Cohen and Meltzer then launched an 'attempt to extort Plaintiffs into paying the Defendants to leave'.
They cite an email from Cohen and Meltzer's lawyer, stating that the couple will leave if $15,000 in compensation is paid.
Cohen told Insider she couldn't discuss the lawsuit.
A New York Times representative said the company was aware of the lawsuit and was looking into it.
'I really didn't want to do this,' Amit Matta told Insider. 'I held on as far as possible.'Read more:
- New York Times 'Hunt' Writer Joyce Cohen Sued in Rent Dispute
News Source: dailymail.co.uk
Tags: topics index the new york times’ new york times’ york times’ housing on the upper west side during the pandemic over allegations the couple refused the building the building they needed in unpaid rent stopped paying is being sued the couple and said they told insider and jasmine the lawsuit insist paying rent
Shocking moment OnlyFans star, 26, repeatedly PUNCHES boyfriend, 27, in elevator two months before stabbing him to death: Cops say her mom text her to claim self defense
This is the shocking moment an OnlyFans model viciously punched and kicked her boyfriend in an elevator before she stabbed him to death.
The horrific footage shows Courtney Clenney, 26, launch a blistering attack on Christian Obumseli, 27, two months before she killed him in Miami.
She pounded the touch screen before slapping him and pulling his hair as he desperately tried to fend off her blows.
She allegedly stabbed him to death at their luxury apartment in the One Paraiso building in Edgewater, Miami, on April 3.
The footage was released by prosecutors who dumped a mound of evidence they had found against Clenney.
It included allegations the couple, who had been together two years, had broken up multiple times between January and the start of April.
She had allegedly kicked him out of their luxury apartment in the last week of March, just days before she killed him.
Meanwhile the documents also told how they would have furious rows when they lived in Austin, Texas, with her allegedly flinging a huge painting off their balcony.
And they appear to dismiss the model's claim she threw the knife across the room from over 10ft away, saying it had been up close and personal.
Clenney was found by cops coated in blood in her Miami condo but was released because it was thought she had acted in self defense.
But she was yesterday charged with second-degree murder after being arrested in Hawaii - where she was in rehab - and is waiting extradition to Miami.
The horrific footage shows Courtney Clenney, 26, launch a blistering attack on Christian Obumseli, 27, two months before she killed him in Miami
She pounded the touch screen before slapping him and pulling his hair as he desperately tried to fend off her blows
She jumped up and grabbed his hair from behind, wrenching his head backwards before punching him in the side of the head
A search for her exclusive content shows that it is 'no longer available' but her Instagram account - with two million followers - remains online
Clenney allegedly stabbed Obumseli (pictured together) to death at their luxury apartment in the One Paraiso building in Edgewater, Miami, on April 3
Courtney Clenney (pictured in a police mugshot), 26, appears to have removed the page despite posting X-rated content since she killed Christian Obumseli, 27, in April
The new one-minute video shows the couple enter the elevator as Clenney bashed on the touch screen to chose a floor.
Obumseli appeared to try to calm her down but she turned to him and slapped him and pushed him multiple times in a brutal assault.
She jumped up and grabbed his hair from behind, wrenching his head backwards before punching him in the side of the head.
The victim tucked her under his arm and tried to restrain her before pressing the elevator button for their floor.
But she continued to launch repeated attacks on him as he tried to block her vicious blows.
Clenney kept up her attack even as the doors opened and they spilled out into the corridor while appearing to shout at each other.
The victim tucked her under his arm and tried to restrain her before pressing the elevator button for their floor
But she continued to launch repeated attacks on him as he tried to block her vicious blows
Clenney kept up her attack even as the doors opened and they spilled out into the corridor while appearing to shout at each other
The footage was disclosed in unsealed documents from Miami-Dade prosecutors as they dropped a heap of evidence in their murder case against the model.
It outlines the couple's turbulent relationship, saying they had broken up multiple times since they moved to a 22nd floor condo in Miami in January.
They spoke to witnesses who told how they would loudly row into the night, with so many neighbors complaining about them an eviction notice was sought.
When they broke up in March and Clenny booted her boyfriend out of the apartment, Clenney's mother Deborah came to stay with her.
The couple 'rekindled their relationship' on April 1 and he moved back in, but the arrest warrant says 'arguments began almost immediately'.
Cops were called that night and Clenney 'appeared intoxicated', though no arrests were made.
Two days later, the day Obumseli died, it had 'began peacefully', with the couple 'playing with their dogs at home.
The victim went to Subway to buy them both sandwiches at 1.15pm and got back at 4.32pm.
Clenney had just posted a new video on Instagram, and prosecutors think the stabbing occurred in the 13 minutes after her boyfriend returned.
The model was arrested at a rehab clinic - where she was seeking help for substance abuse and PTSD - in Laupahoehoe yesterday morning
Clenney is shown on April 3 after stabbing Obumseli on the balcony of their home
A search for her OnlyFans account - which was under the name Courtney Tailor - yielded no results while a link on her website forwarded to an unavailable page
Her Instagram account remains active but she has not shared any images on it for 19 weeks
The young couple had recently moved together from Austin, where they met, to Miami
She was thought to have been on the phone to her mom, who said she heard her daughter arguing with Obumseli and claim he was 'lying'.
The model called cops at 4.57pm to report the stabbing, and could be heard saying: 'I'm so sorry baby.'
The warrant added: 'On that call, the victim can be heard in the background repeatedly saying he is dying and cannot feel his arm.
'The amount of blood throughout the condominium at different levels, including two large pools, evidences the victim was bleeding for an extended period before police arrived.'
The document goes on to claim her mother texted her to tell her to mention 'self-defense' and 'advised her to not say anything to investigators without an attorney'.RELATED ARTICLES
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But Clenney went on to talk to the cops, arguing she grabbed the knife because Obumseli pinned her against a wall by her throat.
Yet detectives pointed out in the document there were no injuries on her and 'at no time did [she] claim the victim was armed with any type of weapon'.
Chief Medical Examiner Kenneth Hutchins also poured scorn on her claim she had thrown the knife, saying: 'I do not think that this was... I don't know.
He added: 'I really don't know if this was justified at all.' The knife wound penetrated his chest for eight centimeters and was pointed slightly downwards.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said: 'The violent and toxic two-year relationship of Christian Obumbeli and Courtney Clenney did not have to end in tragedy with Christian's murder as a victim of domestic violence.'
Obumseli's family do not believe that he was threatening to harm his girlfriend Clenney
Chenney is pictured looking disheveled in a 2020 mugshot after she was landed in court for DUI
Meanwhile witnesses revealed how the couple's time living together in Austin was also turbulent.
Aidan Nevisky, who lived on the floor below them, reported loud arguments erupting frequently a few years ago.
He told the Herald: 'You could hear her throwing glasses, smashing objects. Everyone on the 10th and 11th floors could hear them. They were not quiet.'
He said in one furious row Clenney appeared to have chucked a huge painting of a tiger off the balcony, which blew on to his below.
Cops in Hawaii detained Clenney on Wednesday morning ahead of extradition back to Miami. She has been charged with second-degree murder with a deadly weapon.
Her lawyer said: 'I'm completely shocked, especially since we were cooperating with the investigation and offered to voluntarily surrender her if she were charged.'
The attorney, Frank Prieto, added in a statement: 'We look forward to clearing her name in court.'
Prieto said that Clenney had been forced to stab Obumseli after he grabbed her by the throat.
The model was later caught on video covered in blood on her high-rise balcony just after the incident.
Clenney was taken into custody under Florida's Baker Act, which protects people at risk of suicide or mental health crisis, but was freed without charge.
Obumseli's brother in April was livid she was not being charged, saying it was 'because of her 'privilege' as a 'wealthy white woman'.
Jeffrey wrote on Instagram the family do not believe Clenney and demanded she be charged with killing the brother he called Toby.
He said: 'Within 24 hours following Toby's death, the detective on the case prematurely concluded this was not a crime of violence.'
The victim's brother also slammed Clenney for videos that emerged following the incident that showed her kissing her dogs and ordering drinks at the hotel bar.
He continued: 'We've seen videos of Courtney kissing her dogs while covered in what we believe to be my brother's blood and casually getting drinks at a hotel bar days later while my brother lays in the morgue.'
He was referring to videos that show Clenney at Miami's Grand Beach hotel days after her boyfriend's death.
Clenney was spotted at a Miami hotel bar days after the killing, trying to have a drink with her father
Clenney and her father were chased out of the bar by the woman who said she had 'just killed her boyfriend'. Her attorney says they were trying to pick up a drink and go to the beach
Obumseli's family has raised more than $72,000 on a GoFundMe page to help pay for his funeral and to bring his body home to Texas
Her attorney pushed back against this claim saying: 'The statement about Courtney 'casually getting drinks' is absolutely false.
'Courtney was not ''casually getting drinks at a hotel bar''. Courtney was sitting at an unattended table in the hotel lobby area that also has a bar.'
Prieto added her father was in town and they were having drinks then left because a 'woman was berating them for no reason'.
Obumseli's family from Austin, Texas, continues to demand answers. They also raised more than $80,000 via a GoFundMe.
On their page, they say he was the victim of a 'heinous act of violence.'
It says: 'Christian Toby Obumseli was murdered in Florida a week before his 28th birthday. It is unconscionable to make sense of our new reality.
'That someone's selfish act ripped Christian away from this world. It is not enough to say we are shocked and hurting - we are utterly devastated.
'His murder leaves many unanswered questions and creates a void that can never be fixed or filled. Not even with time.
'Christian was extremely compassionate with a desire always to uplift those around him. He did not deserve for his life to be cut short by a heinous act of violence.'
The couple's friends have given conflicting reports on who was abusive during their turbulent relationship.
Some said they never saw Obumseli being violent with his girlfriend, but they had seen her hit him.
One of the couple's friends Ashley Vaughn said: 'We've seen her hit him. I've never seen him hit her.'
She told Local 10 : 'From what we've personally experienced between the both of them, we believe that Christian wouldn't put her in a position where she would need to stab him to protect herself.'