LI Couple Accused of Decade-Long Squatting Finally Vacates Home

A Long Island couple accused of squatting and not paying their mortgage for over a decade has apparently vacated their residence, The New York Post reported

The four-bedroom, two-bath home on Friendly Lane in Jericho — formerly owned by Barry and Barbara Pollack — had moving trucks out front last week, apparently ending an ordeal dating back 12 years that involved multiple lawsuits and bankruptcies filed in several venues. 

The Chawla family, who purchased the property 22 months ago at a bank auction, had been unable to take possession of the home due to the Pollacks’ refusal to leave.

The Pollacks acquired the house in 1990 but faced financial troubles by 2006, leading to a 17-year legal battle to retain ownership. 

The property went into a bank auction after a 2008 foreclosure lawsuit, with the couple employing tactics such as “skeleton” and “frivolous” bankruptcies to delay eviction proceedings, the outlet said.

Despite attempts by the Chawlas to reclaim their property, including hiring movers in November, the Pollacks thwarted these efforts with last-minute bankruptcy filings. The filing of a bankruptcy immediately institutes a temporary automatic stay on all creditors to collect on their debts, including real estate.

A video captured Barry Pollack directing a racially charged remark at the Chawlas, suggesting they “go back to Pakistan,” according to the Post.  The Chawlas are of Indian descent.

On Dec. 22, a federal bankruptcy judge barred the Pollacks from making further filings, describing their actions as dishonest and not in line with those seeking a genuine fresh start through bankruptcy.

While the home now appears empty, the Chawlas await official approval from a judge to assume ownership. 

Unusual squatting cases crop up from time to time.

In the fall, Elizabeth Hirschorn made global headlines for overstaying her Los Angeles Airbnb residency for more than 540 days. The Harvard graduate refused to pay rent for a year and a half after her Airbnb stay ended at a guesthouse in L.A.’s Brentwood, and had previously pulled a similar stunt in Oakland, the Daily Mail reported.

Hirschhorn claimed she had a right to stay, and a judge ruled that, under L.A.’s rent control law, there was no legal reason to evict her. Hirschorn eventually vacated the premises.

— Ted Glanzer

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