NYC Landlord Accused of Emptying Out Tenant's Apartment During His COVID-19 Hospitalization

A landlord in New York is being accused of cleaning out a tenant’s apartment while he was hospitalized for several months battling the coronavirus.

Tenement building facades in Chinatown.

Image via Getty/Bill Tompkins

Tenement building facades in Chinatown.

A landlord in New York City is being accused of cleaning out his tenant’s apartment while he was battling coronavirus in the hospital, Gothamist reports.

Ryo Nagaoka, 65, returned to his home Wednesday night to discover that everything but his piano and pet tortoise had disappeared. “They thought he died,” neighbor Sierra Zamarripa said. “He came back last night and there were padlocks on the door.”

An attorney for landlord Dan Shapiro told Gothamist that his client made “every effort to locate the Resident” following his hospitalization in late January after the building’s superintendent, who was responding to a water leak, found Nagaoka incapacitated. Shapiro claims he called local hospitals, but it’s believed that Nagaoka was transferred at some point to a rehab center in another borough where he spent a few months recovering from the virus. 

Three weeks after being hospitalized, the locks to the apartment were changed and management hired a cleaning crew to remove all of Nagaoka’s belongings. When neighbors noticed the items being removed, they assumed that Nagaoka had passed away, and a memorial was erected in his honor.  

While records show Shapiro bought the apartment from Michael Cohen, former lawyer for Donald Trump, in 2018, Alex Rodriguez and Shark Tank judge Barbara Corcoran reportedly became co-owners the following year. Rodriguez and Corcoran’s ownership of this Manhattan apartment building is part of a real estate partnership where they’re looking to get into business with several buildings across the city.

As he attempts to pick up the pieces with few items to his name, Nagaoka is relying on the kindness of his neighbors who have provided him some basic necessities. He’s hoping to find a pro bono lawyer who could help him in his efforts to keep his home, and seek damages. 

Nagaoka’s neighbor Sierra Zamarripa has since started a GoFundMe page to help him get back on his feet.

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