Clean up already!
That’s the directive a chic Upper East Side co-op — where a one-bedroom unit is selling for nearly $1 million — is giving to an older owner.
The agency at 31 E. 72nd St. is suing 86-year-old Joan Disse to force her to clean her home. A Supreme Court lawsuit filed against her late last month alleges she was hoarding, a rodent infestation and a water leak that damaged the ceiling.
The apartment is “probably very messy,” Disse told the Post, “but I’m not a hoarder.”
Disse has owned the one-room house since 1965, but hasn’t lived there “for some time,” according to court records. The documents also include a “friendly handwritten note from the chief executive officer, who is also her neighbor in the courtroom, inquiring whether the defendant required assistance to resolve the situations at issue in this lawsuit.”
The note said the ceiling had “significant damage from leaks” and the unit was “in a very unsanitary and unsanitary condition”. Sooner or later there will most likely be an intervention by the fire service, which has intensified its enforcement efforts in recent years.”
Chief executive Guy “Clay” Maitland declined to comment, and the co-op’s attorney, Deborah Koplovitz, did not respond to messages.
According to the lawsuit, the note remained unanswered by Disse last summer. It is claimed that Disse, who “apparently left the apartment empty for many years”, has a duty to keep the interior in good condition” but instead “keeps it as a quasi-storage facility”.
A letter from the cooperative’s lawyer to Disse said the caretaker “whom you’ve asked to enter the apartment in the past to check on the condition” reports that “the ceiling fell down” and “there has been an end to it.” “. – Accumulation of personal belongings in the apartment.”
The board wants to send its own crew to clean up if Disse doesn’t want to – and is also seeking access for quarterly inspections.
Disse, who can be reached by phone in St. Louis, said she doesn’t recall getting a message from her neighbor. She said the mess stemmed largely from empty boxes, mail and catalogs that building staff had stacked inside. “Think of all the catalogs you get in a week,” she said.
Although the lawsuit claims there is a rodent infestation, it provides no evidence. Disse said she has never seen a rodent in her apartment, although she has seen them waiting for the subway in the past.
Pictures taken by Maitland and filed in court show the ceiling is peeling. Disse insists all the leaks that caused the paint to peel came from plumbing work upstairs. “I can’t fix it and I didn’t,” she said.
The records of the Ministry of Construction show permits for extensive work on the floor above, the penthouse level. A permit filed seven years ago and valid for more than four years allowed for major renovations, including the removal of interior walls and new roof frames, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and lighting.
Another permit, also filed seven years ago and valid for two years, was granted to a master plumber.
In the 15-story building, where most floors are three units, a one-bedroom sells for $980,000 with monthly maintenance of about $900.
Apartments in the largest line are much grander, with two bedrooms plus an office, dining room, staff room and gallery, depending on the layout. These will sell for over $5 million.
The retail outlets on the building’s ground floor include a high-end jewelry boutique and a shoe store on Madison Avenue, as well as two art galleries.
A building’s supervisor or staff, even if they have keys, cannot enter and clean up without the owner’s permission unless there is an emergency, said Adam Leitman Bailey, a real estate attorney unaffiliated with the case .
Disse said she’s kept up with alimony and evaluations but hasn’t lived in New York full-time for at least a dozen years after returning to her hometown of St. Louis to care for her elderly stepfather and mother, who both are now deceased. Her mother died in 2010 at the age of 97.
Afterwards she said: “I would go to New York for a day or two and that would be all. A day in New York would make you really lucky if you live in the Midwest.”
More recently, the COVID shutdown prevented her from returning to clean up, she said. Then she developed myocarditis from the vaccination. “My legs were bright red and I could hardly breathe,” she said. “It really messed up my life.”
Disse had a glamorous jet set past, traveling the world as a stewardess for Pan Am and later Delta.
In 1967, the Pan Am Clipper newspaper mentioned her as one of the crew members who were killed by Pope Paul VI. greeted and blessed as a Boeing 707 flew him between Rome and Turkey. The Pope also praised the “delicious” food on board.
“It was the best job in the world and I collected antiques and art,” said Disse. “I accidentally got into it and it was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”
Disse said she is doing her best to solve the messy apartment problem.
“My attorney spoke to her attorney and said, ‘Joan, I think we can work this out.’ My apartment isn’t big, but it’s mine and I love it. I hope to be around for a few more years to enjoy it. The last few years of my life have not been pleasant.”
When she reached last, Disse said she was planning to fly to New York soon. “I’m going to get out my scrubbing gear and clean this place up,” she said.