A Long Island man who solely ever made one mortgage fee has deftly used the courts to remain in the house for 23 years — for free, in line with authorized papers.
Guramrit Hanspal, 52, has filed 4 lawsuits and claimed chapter seven occasions to keep away from being booted from the 2,081-square-foot East Meadow home he “bought” for $290,000 in 1998.
So far, it’s labored: two completely different banks and an actual property firm have owned the three-bedroom, 2.5-bath house since Hanspal was foreclosed upon in 2000. But Hanspal stays.
Hanspal’s not the one occupant of the house leveraging the U.S. Bankruptcy Code’s “automatic stay” guidelines, which give debtors a brief reprieve from all assortment efforts, harassment, and foreclosures.
At least three different folks itemizing the house at 2468 Kenmore St. as their tackle have additionally filed for chapter in Brooklyn Federal Court, profitable the “automatic stay,” solely to have the claims ultimately dismissed, courtroom data present.
“It’s really a group of people that are more than willing to use the courts and abuse the courts to whatever extent they need to extend their illegal occupancy,” mentioned lawyer Jordan Katz, who reps present property proprietor Diamond Ridge Partners.
Hanspal’s historical past of litigation “is incredibly long and sordid,” mentioned Katz, who added that whereas he’s seen occupants staying in foreclosed houses earlier than, (*20*)
“He’s not legally occupying that property,” Katz mentioned. “It’s an outrage.”
And an excellent deal: Hanspal, who had an preliminary 7.375 % rate of interest on the $232,000 adjustable-rate mortgage, seemingly saved himself upwards of $440,000 by not paying his payments.
Hanspal obtained the mortgage from Washington Mutual in 1998 and made precisely one fee — $1,602.37, — earlier than defaulting, prompting the financial institution to start foreclosures proceedings a yr later, courtroom data present.
By May 2000, Washington Mutual efficiently foreclosed on the house, and Hanspal was “forever barred” from any declare to the property, in line with the judgment of foreclosures.
But Hanspal by no means left. By January 2001, he filed his first chapter declare, data present. He went on to file one other in November 2001, two in 2002, and one in 2003.
If chapter filings didn’t work, Hanspal merely went to state courtroom in search of aid, typically performing as his personal lawyer, in line with an August 2005 order from Nassau County Judge Burton S. Joseph.
Meanwhile, in 2004, Hanspal transferred the deed of the house to a buddy, Rajender Pal, though he had no authorized proper to take action, in line with courtroom papers. Pal, utilizing the Kenmore Street tackle, filed for chapter in 2005, staving off eviction but once more.
“Mr. Hanspel and Mr. Pal’s apparent frivolous conduct in using the Court system and the
Bankruptcy proceeding as a sword to get out of a lawful debt, rather than a shield, is most disconcerting to this Court,” Joseph wrote in 2005, threatening sanctions.
By 2008, Washington Mutual had gone under, marking one of many largest financial institution collapses in American historical past, with its belongings ultimately taken over by JP Morgan Chase.
The new financial institution was additionally unable besides Hanspal, and has been locked in litigation with him for years, with Hanspal submitting at the very least three lawsuits in opposition to JP Morgan Chase in Nassau Supreme Court. The two sides are additionally in an ongoing authorized battle in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Hanspal claims in courtroom papers that Chase dedicated “blatant fraud” in 2010 by attempting to evict him when it didn’t have correct title to the house, and accused the financial institution of withholding “surplus” funds from a earlier public sale of the property.
Chase slammed Hanspal for “clogging the court docket” with “patently frivolous” claims.
By May 2018, Chase unloaded the property to Diamond Ridge, which supplied Hanspal $20,000 to depart. He didn’t take the deal, and as an alternative, filed for chapter once more in 2019 and 2020. Another purported occupant of the house, Boss Chawla, filed chapter 4 occasions in 2019, as did one other resident — allegedly named John Smith — who filed as soon as.
“There always seems to be a new occupant who pops up at the last moment,” mentioned Diamond Ridge lawyer Katz. “They never show up in court.”
At least one decide thinks it’s time for Hanspal to go.
“The history of this case going on for approximately 20 years must come to an end,” Nassau District Court Judge Scott Fairgrieve wrote in a December 2019 housing courtroom continuing.
Diamond Ridge has spent $150,000 on authorized charges and paid $50,000 in property taxes since buying the house, mentioned member Max Sold, who added, “as of this writing [we] still have no known end in sight.”
The pandemic might give Hanspal one more reprieve, famous Katz, who mentioned the COVID-19 backlog in New York’s housing courts has saved them from pursuing their eviction effort.
Hanspal didn’t return messages. A girl who answered the bell at Kenmore Street and recognized herself as a tenant mentioned Hanspal was not on the house, which featured at the very least three automobiles with out license plates in the driveway.