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Unika Timmons was hopeful she could make her new rental unit more than just temporary for her partner and her 10- and 14-year-old sons.
“I definitely wanted to be in this type of environment where we had neighbors that were close, and we can mingle and be a family community,” said Timmons.
But with allegations made by those neighbors against Timmons, the family says it is being forced out just three months after moving in.
The spot on Ariana Court in Delmar is part of the Nathaniel Crossing condominiums, and the rental is subject to the neighborhood’s HOA rules.
In mid-November, Timmons’ landlord sent her an action for removal email listing a handful of complaints that the family is being too loud, including “a knock down yelling argument” and “the man of the house left with two duffel bags; I’m wondering if/when he will be back.”
As a black woman and mother to a wheelchair-bound child, Timmons says she feels discriminated against.
“We feel like we’ve been targeted, we’ve been watched, we’re not welcome, we’re not wanted, and we would have done anything asked to maintain our relationship with our neighbors to maintain the peace, but we weren’t even told that we were doing anything wrong or given an opportunity to fix it,” said Timmons.
We reached out to Timmons’ landlord for their side of the story. They directed us to their attorney, who said they can’t comment except to say the requisite notices have been or will be served, and no eviction petition has been filed yet.
Tully Rinckey lawyer Ryan McCall doesn’t represent Timmons, but specializes in tenants’ cases like this.
“I have a few questions with that,” said McCall. “First, why is this via email? Second, why was I not served any notice? Third, I’ll see you in court, because we’re going to have a fact finding.”
McCall reviewed the lease, HOA agreement and action for removal email. He believes the case would likely be thrown out because Timmons wasn’t given a warning.
He said many renters have more rights than they’re aware of, and should consult an attorney if they feel they are being unfairly targeted.
“A landlord can’t just assert and say ‘we’re getting a few noise complaints; we’re terminating your tenancy,’ ” said McCall. “She has an absolute right to ask for a trial and have a fact finding regarding the veracity of those claims.”
While she no longer wants to live at Nathaniel Crossing long term, Timmons does want to remain there until the school year concludes.
“It’s frustrating to be excelling as a mom, have your children excelling, being comfortable, feeling safe, and realize you’re in a community that you’re not welcomed in,” said Timmons. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Timmons said she is planning on taking her case to court. McCall recommends renters explore NYcourts.gov to learn more about their rights.