The Squatter

Daniel Peckham won't leave his Chelsea apartment—not even for the $800 one-bedroom on West 69th Street his landlord offered to get him out. Is he crazy?

"I advised Dan not to sign it," explains Jack Newton, his lawyer. "I can't agree to something that doesn't give Dan his full rights."

Last week, Peckham found yet another legal venue for his quixotic and perhaps misguided campaign, now suing the DHCR for its failure to investigate his harassment claims, among many other claims. He also sees his case involving the issue of what he calls "phony" demolition—a trend of recent vintage that has gained attention among housing advocates and politicians who argue that landlords are coming up with new ways to remove rent-stabilized tenants from their homes. These tenants'-rights advocates disagree with a 2002 DHCR rule change qualifying internal gutting as a demolition, rather than a razing. "The DHCR is bending over backwards to make this loophole as cheap and as easy as possible for landlords to get rid of rent-regulated tenants," Newton argues.

If Peckham loses this latest round in court, Tauber says he'll make no more offers. "He could end up with nothing," Tauber says.

Daniel Peckham, standing outside one of the now-vacant apartments in the building where he lives, 244 W. 21st St., and where he refuses to leave.
photo: Nicholas Burnham
Daniel Peckham, standing outside one of the now-vacant apartments in the building where he lives, 244 W. 21st St., and where he refuses to leave.

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Tauber and Peckham will next meet in court on October 23.

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