'Rent is Too Damn High' candidate facing eviction from rent-controlled apartment
Jimmy McMillan says he pays $872.96 for a rent-controlled ground-floor apartment on St. Marks Place in the East Village -- which he's had since the late-1970s, when the rent was around $275.
But the man who founded the tenants-rights party says his landlords are giving him the boot so they can pull in way more dough.
"I've been here since 1977, and they want more money!" McMillan says. "It's about 'My Rent is Too Damn Low.' "
So McMillan, easily recognizable with his trademark white wraparound moustache and goatee, now has a new crusade -- waging a legal battle to keep the hipster-haven apartment he shares with his adult son -- a mission that meshes well with the credo of his populist political party.
"Maybe the landlord doesn't know, but he can't bulldog me because I know the law," McMillan vowed in Downtown Brooklyn yesterday.
When he's not busy planning his 2012 run for the White House, McMillan says he's drawing on years of expertise to advise his lawyer on how to handle the eviction case. "I told him to file a counter-claim for $70,000," McMillan said.
The case is now pending in Housing Court.
The building's owner, Lisco Holdings, claims in court documents that McMillan has violated his lease because he doesn't really live in the East Village apartment -- he actually lives in Brooklyn.
"This is a case where the landlord alleges that it's not the tenant's primary residence," said Robert Goldstein, an attorney representing the firm that owns the building.
McMillan -- who drives around town in a Honda SUV detailed with wraparound letters that read, "Rent Is Too Damn High," over a picture of McMillan striking a presidential pose in front of an American flag -- dismissed that charge as "baseless" and insists the St. Marks Place unit is his permanent home.
"That's my apartment. It is my residence. My name is on the lease," he said.
In an interview last year, McMillan told The New York Times that he lived in an apartment on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn's Flatbush section rent-free and paid his keep by performing maintenance work at the property.
But McMillan now insists that the Brooklyn address is where he maintains an office and it doubles as the headquarters of the Rent is Too Damn High Party.
The landlord's claim is nothing more than a subterfuge for kicking him out and renting the apartment to a new tenant at a higher price, McMillan maintains.
"It's a trick they all play. I'm not going to let them get away with it. You don't tell an American how to live," McMillan said.