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Cayuga Nation leadership seeks over $600,000 from Seneca Falls tenants behind on rent

Lawyers for the Cayuga Nation said that they filed suits in Nation Court seeking back rent and other charges from citizens who are illegally occupying 14 residential properties in the town of Seneca Falls.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages in excess of $600,000 based on breaches of lease with Cayuga Nation, as well as the value of occupancy of the properties by individuals who do not have leases with them.

“Because of the current COVID situation, the Cayuga Nation will refrain from evicting these illegal occupants from the properties, choosing instead to only pursue claims for rent duly owed to the Nation, as is expressly permitted by Nation law,” Clint Halftown said in a release. “It is also worth noting that these rent delinquencies precede COVID by a number of years, so none of these individuals can claim their failure to pay is due to COVID.”

Halftown said the Nation had previously filed eviction proceedings against the same properties in the Town of Seneca Falls Town Court in July of 2019 but discontinued the proceedings following a determination by the New York Court of Appeals with regard to the Nation’s leadership dispute.

“The Court of Appeals told us we needed to resolve internal Nation disputes using our own laws and on that basis we went forward to form our own court system and enact criminal and civil laws, including the necessary statutes to bring these current proceedings. This action is both an exercise of our sovereignty and represents a fulfillment of our goal of self-determination,” Halftown added. “A number of the properties in question were financed through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants. As HUD has made clear, the continued illegal occupation of these properties has made it impossible for the Nation to fulfill a number of HUD’s requirements. In an effort to comply with HUD requirements, the Nation simply has no choice but to pursue its remedies against the illegal occupants.”

Joseph E. Fahey, a former Onondaga County Court Judge, is the Nation’s criminal and civil court judge.