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Howard looks for landlord who ripped off international student

Yitao Ma came to New York to go to college. She recently received her master's degree in music education from NYU. But she’s also learned a lesson she never wanted to experience: one in the old-fashioned New York City rip-off.

She thought she’d found a nice place on East 42nd Street and paid the entire one-year rent plus security deposit UP FRONT! A total of $26,000! You’d think that would make a landlord very happy. But apparently not happy enough.

Ma had to leave town and go back home for several months. While she was away, landlord Carmine DeSena renovated her place and then rented it out to someone else! Ma says she was unable to live there for the last 43 days of her lease. That was worth a total of more than $2,800.

DeSena actually returned Yitao’s security deposit, but not the $2,800. After numerous failed efforts, Ma got in touch with me.

First, I called the broker. She wasn’t much help. And the building’s management company didn’t know anything about this. Finally, I got DeSena on the phone. When I told him I was with Ma, he hung up. Great.

It was no surprise for Ma.

“He did the same thing before,” she said.

I tried DeSena at least two more times. The last time he hung up on me again. Some guy this Carmine DeSena - rude and not exactly a guy who seems to care about his ex-tenant.

So, I told Ma, she may have to take him to small claims court. She may have a strong case. We’ll let you know what happens.