Imagine plunking down $195,000 for a six-week rental only to find it was a dump? That's what happened to New York real estate executive Keith Rubenstein when he rented what he thought was a luxury Southampton beach house on New York's Long Island last summer for six weeks. Or so he alleges. The oceanfront estate turned out to be a "nightmare"
with "dangerous conditions," including cracked pool paving stones, loose and splintering beach-deck boards, a debris-filled pool, broken front steps and a "thorn-filled" path that led to the beach, he charges.
Rubenstein, of real estate firm Somerset Partners, filed suit earlier this week in York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. He's seeking to recoup at least a quarter of the rental fee ($68,250) and the $19,500 security deposit.
"Defendant failed to tender the house in a safe and habitable condition," the New York Post
says Rubenstein said of the 4,590-square-foot home, at 210 Meadow Lane in Southampton
, in the complaint. "The pool stones were also cracked and loose, a condition that, together with the presence of young children at the house, could have led to unspeakable tragedy.
The owner of the rental, Mid-Summer Dream, which is held by Russian socialite Janna Bullock
, says Rubenstein and his family left damages to the home in excess of $24,111 (which includes an additional $4,644 on top of the security deposit) to cover those damages. Rubenstein is denying those charges. The home was purchased for $14.8 million in 2005, according to HamptonsFineHomes.com
Robert Wolf, the landlord's lawyer, told the Post, "This is an attempt at a shakedown by an ungrateful tenant seeking the return of security deposit and rent. The tenant enjoyed the use of this fine luxury home all summer and brought this claim well after their tenancy expired."
As it turns out, the 7-bedroom, 6.5-bath home on Meadow Lane has been on the market for about a year with Sotheby's International Realty. The asking price is $34.5 million. Harald Grant has the listing
. The home is also still a rental, he says.
While he would not comment on the lawsuit, he says the house is a "wonderful Norman Jaffe designed home with a tennis court and a pool in a trophy location." The listing says that the home has been "fully renovated in 2007."
A claim Rubenstein would dispute, I gather.