After 29 years of summer bliss in their Sag Harbor home, the house on Mt. Misery Drive has turned into just that for one couple in the summer of 2020: a mountain of misery. That is because Isa Goldberg and Nanette Shaw have been locked out of their own house by a woman who rented it for the offseason and is now refusing to leave, Goldberg and Shaw said last week. To make matters worse, their tenant has also refused to pay rent since April, they said.
Because they can’t get into their own house, they said they are blocked from taking care of the property. “We can’t turn on the irrigation or open our pond because that would require somebody going into the house and we don’t have permission for that. The fish are dying. My indoor plants are probably dying,” Shaw said.
Shaw recently had gall bladder surgery. “I would love to be able to convalesce in our home,” she said.
The couple normally splits their time during the summer season between their one-bedroom apartment in the East Village in Manhattan, and the Mt. Misery Drive house. They almost always rent the Sag Harbor house out during the offseason. This past winter was no different.
They had not rented to this tenant before, so the couple asked for references from a previous landlord. “She said her last landlord was not reasonable, and that she had been there for a long time,” Goldberg said. Instead, she presented the couple with references from her employers. Those seemed to indicate the tenant was a good person to rent to. The rent was $2,300 a month plus utilities.
The lease ran until May 10. In April the tenant asked the couple to use the deposit they had been given in lieu of the last month’s rent.
It soon became clear to Goldberg and Shaw that she had no intention of leaving. “She said, ‘I can’t leave until June 10,’” Goldberg said. June 10 turned into June 28 which has turned into “July 11 or later.”
The tenant has not paid rent since April, the couple noted. “She said for personal reason she is not leaving. She wants a summer for free in the Hamptons,” Shaw said.
What is particularly galling to Goldberg, a writer, theater critic and former head of the Drama Desk, and Shaw, who after retiring from a career in advertising, is now studying to become a psychoanalyst, is that if they had rented the house out for the summer, they could have gotten upwards of $60,000 for the season. Goldberg pointed out that while evictions may currently be on hold, the tenant is still on the hook for the actual rent. Whether they will ever be able to collect that rent is another story. “She is very determined not to give us a forwarding address,” Goldberg said.
Normally, Goldberg and Shaw could go to court and have the tenant evicted. But since the onset of COVID-19, and the shutdown of the state’s court system, the eviction process was suspended. That suspension partially ended on June 20. However, the moratorium on evictions remains in place for those who are either financially impacted by the pandemic or are on unemployment. That moratorium will be in effect until at least August 20.
Goldberg and Shaw are both very supportive of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the job he has done during the pandemic — except for the suspension of the eviction process when it comes to summer homes.
The tenant did not respond to requests for comment.