The backlog in New York’s housing courts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is a another lucky break for a Long Island man who hasn’t paid his mortgage in 23 years, and is likely to continue to live in the house for free – for the time being.
Three different owners have tried to kick Guramrit Hanspal, 52, from the East Meadow home since he was foreclosed upon by Washington Mutual in 2000, but he drowned each of the three owners in legal actions.
He filed four lawsuits and claimed bankruptcy seven times since he bought the house at 2468 Kenmore St. for $290,000 in 1998. He’s made only one mortgage payment of $1,602.37 before defaulting, the New York Post reported.
Now, the continued backlog in New York Housing Court – which is jammed because of the pause in cases that was implemented during the coronavirus – is likely to hold up things even further, even though the current owner of the home actually has a sale pending.
The sale of the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home won’t be able to go through without movement from the courts.
The Long Island home looks relatively tidy from the outside, but isn’t in great shape on the inside. A late-model Mercedes sits out front along with a Volkswagen
The house, at 2468 Kenmore St., was purchased originally in 1998 for $290,000. Only one payment was ever made on the mortgage, but banks have failed in evicting the laggard owner
Guramrit Hanspal is the owner of the house who bought it in 1998 and only ever paid one mortgage payment. A backlog in housing court cases likely means it’ll be a while before he’s finally evicted
The exact status of the court backlog isn’t clear, but New York Chief Judge Janet DiFore called it ‘significant’ in March – and noted that the courts were expecting a flood of new cases to add to the backlog as the state lumbers back to life, according to the New York State Bar Association.
As for the Long Island home, each holder of Hanspal’s mortgage has gone after him – so far to no avail.
And from the listing photos, he’s not taken care of the home well in the 23 years he’s lived there for free. Shots of the interior show a filthy bathroom. A living room and dining room and strewn with items everywhere. And a basement looks to be jammed with junk.
Washington Mutual and Chase banks as well as the the real estate group Diamond Ridge – fought Hanspal in long, arduous legal battles, but he continues to live in the house by leveraging the U.S. Bankruptcy Code’s ‘automatic stay’ rules, which give debtors a temporary reprieve from all collection efforts, harassment and foreclosures.
Diamond Ridge, which offered Hanspal $20,000 to leave when they bought the house from Chase in 2018, has spent $150,000 on legal fees and paid $50,000 in property taxes, member Max Sold told the New York Post.
He didn’t take the offer. Instead, he filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and 2020.
‘As of this writing [we] still have no known end in sight,’ Sold said to the Post, because the COVID-19 pandemic clogged New York’s housing courts, keeping them from pursuing their eviction effort.
The house is listed on Zillow with a ‘pending status,’ meaning the seller and buyer agreed to a deal but the sale hasn’t closed yet, in this case because Hanspal won’t leave.
The Zillow listing, for $399,000, noted the requirement for a ‘cash offer,’ oftentimes used when a home is in foreclosure and being sold as ‘REO’ or real estate owned by a bank or other financial institution.
The living room on the Zillow listing shows the apparent front door blocked with junk
A formal dining room is covered with kitchen items, though the hutch looks full of nice china
A view of the living room shows a giant TV set surrounded by plush sofas; the crowded dining room can be seen in the foreground with the table covered in kitchenware
The basement of the home, whose mortgage hasn’t been paid since 1998, is a big mess, with at least two mattresses stacked, clothes everywhere and insulation falling from the ceiling
One of the bathrooms in the home isn’t any nicer, with clothes and trash seen and a sink and toilet in dire need of cleaning
Another filthy sight is the toilet area of the bathroom, where a trash can overflows
It had been listed for Diamond Ridge for sale – so the Zillow pictures give a peek inside the home that Hanspal won’t leave.
The person who apparently put an offer on the home – hence the pending status – hasn’t been identified.
Washington Mutual tried to boot Hanspal after the foreclosure in 2000, but he filed two bankruptcy claims in 2001, two in 2002 and one in 2003, the New York Post reported.
It’s unclear how Hanspal was able to file bankruptcy so many times.
The two sides were still entangled in legal battles when Washington Mutual went under in 2008 in one of the largest bank collapses in American history.
Chase took over Washington Mutual’s assets, including this East Meadow house, and tried to evict Hanspal, but he filed three lawsuits against Chase in Nassau Supreme Court, according to the New York Post.
A bedroom has boxes – perhaps in preparation for a move that has never been ordered by the courts after the home’s owner has tied up lawsuit after lawsuit in red tape
Another bedroom also is stuffed with furniture – and an apparent sewing machine
The ceiling of a bathroom has sustained water damage; it’s unclear what kind of condition the rest of the house is in, beyond the listing pictures, given what’s shown is such a mess
In the garage, tires are stacked, a bicycle is set against the wall and other junk is everywhere
Even the outside is a mess just beyond the fence – with trash piled against the home
The two sides are also in an ongoing legal battle in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Jordan Katz, lawyer for Diamond Ridge, told the New York Post that Hanspal’s history of litigation ‘is incredibly long and sordid.’
He said he’s seen occupants stay in foreclosed homes before, but ‘nothing even approaches the length of this one.’
In another odd twist, at least three other people – including a ‘John Smith’ – tried to list the East Meadow house as their address and then file for bankruptcy since Hanspel deeded the house to his friend in 2004, but Brooklyn Federal Court dismissed each one.
‘There always seems to be a new occupant who pops up at the last moment,’ said Diamond Ridge attorney Katz. ‘They never show up in court.’
Hanspal didn’t respond to the Post’s requests for comment. A woman at the home who answered the door when a Post reporter knocked said she was a tenant of Hanspal’s.
When he bought the house in 1998 for $232,000, he had an initial interest rate of 7.375 percent on the adjustable-rate mortgage, the Post reports. That means he saved himself a likely $440,000 by skipping out on the bill.
The home, on Long Island, has has an offer that is ‘pending’, but it’s held up with the backlog in housing court as New York has cases piled up in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown