A Hamptons house has been quite a steal for a Manhattan developer and his real estate broker gal pal — who have been squatting in the home thanks to the state’s pandemic eviction ban, the furious owner’s charge.
Marco Ricotta, 76, has refused to leave the Westhampton Beach house for months, even allegedly telling a local official, “I don’t have to leave because the governor said so.”
Ricotta, a developer who once briefly owned the Tunnel nightclub in Manhattan, and broker girlfriend Jodine Russo, stopped paying the home’s $3,000 monthly rent in April — even though both list a spacious, two-bedroom two-bath Midtown pad on their business records.
“We’ve never rented before and God knows, I’ll never rent it again,” lamented homeowner Elyse Zaccaro, who has been trying to boot Ricotta from her four-bedroom, three-bath home since his lease ended May 3.
Zaccaro, 53, and husband Tommy del Zoppo, 55, say they have nowhere to turn.
“The eviction moratorium is very well intended for those in need, but it’s being misapplied with no due recourse,” said Zaccaro, who had planned to spend the summer in the Westhampton Beach home with her aging in-laws and her teenage son.
“At one point my husband said to [Ricotta] you know it’s our house right?” she recalled.
Before the coronavirus pandemic put a hold on evictions, Ricotta had first demanded to stay through the summer, then offered to buy the home for seven figures, said del Zoppo, who refused.
“I can’t even get to court and plead my case,” he lamented.
Cuomo banned evictions in March, citing the economic fallout from the coronavirus. The state’s Chief Administrative Judge, Lawrence Marks, later expanded the moratorium to include all evictions — not just those caused by the pandemic — and extended it until Oct. 1.
“It’s created a tremendous amount of collateral damage,” said del Zoppo.
Ricotta is now a “holdover” tenant, the term for those who won’t exit when their legal right to stay has expired, said attorney Christian Killoran, who reps Zaccaro and del Zoppo.
“The difference with the holdover tenants is they don’t have the right to be at the house, they don’t have that underlying claim to deserve the protection that’s being afforded,” he noted.
“He’s never claimed COVID impact. He’s not sick and he’s never claimed financial hardship — so why is he still in the house?” Zaccaro said of her rogue tenant, who was once accused of building condos in Middletown, N.Y., that were so shoddy, grass grew through the floors.
It’s time for Cuomo to step up, said state Senate candidate and Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, R-Long Island.
“The executive order needs to be amended to only those individuals that are truly financially impacted by this pandemic,” he said.
Zaccoro and del Zoppo have owned the 1,800-square-foot Sunset Avenue home for 13 years and began renting to Ricotta about four years ago when they moved to Florida for work. In today’s hot Hamptons real estate market, they could easily get $12,000 a month rent, said the couple, who would prefer to move back into the home.
Ricotta, who hung up when reached by The Post, was less than an ideal tenant, they charge, moving in Russo without permission and putting the upstairs bedrooms up for rent via Airbnb, creating thousands of dollars worth of plumbing and appliance repairs, Zaccaro said.
“I have no way to get my house back, zero,” she said.
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