Sea Breeze Hotel has to keep letting to Lydia Henderson

POSTED: 03/1/16 2:25 PM

Long-term stay at hotels falls under rent protection

St. Maarten News – Sea Breeze Hotel owner Lou Fortuno is not authorized to put his tenant Lydia Henderson out of her room, the Court in First Instance ruled yesterday afternoon in summary proceedings. The court found that the rental agreement between Sea Breeze and Henderson falls under the protection of the rent committee.

In November 2015, Fortuno sent a letter to his tenant announcing that he would not extend her monthly stay beyond February 12 of this year. If she did stay after that date, he would charge her $50 per night, or a hefty $1,500 per month.

On February 18, Fortuno cut the electricity to the room and he padlocked the room a couple of days later.

During the lawsuit Henderson initiated and that was handled in court on Thursday, Fortuno promised that he would restore electricity and that the padlock had already been removed, so that the place was accessible again.

Henderson demanded in court that the hotel restore her electricity and other utilities connections to her room. She also said that the cancellation of her stay is void because there is no permission from the rent committee. Fortuno argued that he did not run an apartment complex but a hotel and that there is no rental agreement.

The court however, came to a different conclusion. A rental agreement does not apply to accommodations, such as hotel rooms, that are rented for short stays. In the Henderson case, the court found that this does not apply, because the plaintiff has been living at Sea Breeze since December 2012. The hotel also advertises for long-term stays.

In spite of the names hotel and hotel room, the court concluded, this is not a case of short term stay. “This means that the plaintiff is entitled to rent protection and that the rent of the room cannot be terminated if there is no permission from the rent committee.”

The court ruled that the termination notice is void and that the hotel has to continue renting the room to Henderson.

Because there is no termination of a rental agreement at stake, the court did not render judgment about Fortuno’s complaints of misbehavior by the tenant.

The court ordered the hotel owner to admit Henderson again to her room and to restore utilities as long as there is a rental agreement. Non-compliance carries a fine of 500 guilders per day with a maximum of 10,000 guilders. Fortuno also has to pay 1,000 guilders to cover the costs of Henderson’s attorney.

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