Influencer squats at Hamptons house after not paying $14K back rent: suit
An Instagram influencer allegedly refused to pay more than $14,000 in rent for a summer stay at a luxe Hamptons home — then used a COVID-19 tenant law to squat there for two months, according to a new report.
Marisa Hochberg, who works as an executive sales director at Cristina Cuomo’s Purist website, is accused of stiffing Cheryl Berman-Schechter and Matthew Schechter, the homeowners of the handsome Montauk home, according to a lawsuit.
In May, Hochberg, 32, a wellness influencer who boasts more than 12,000 followers on Instagram, agreed to pay a total of $31,750 to rent the couple’s three-bedroom, two-bathroom abode on Fairview Avenue from June 1 to Aug. 8, court papers state.
Hochberg paid the first half, then made a brazen request two weeks after moving in.
“This is probably a dumb question bc you just built the house but you aren’t looking to sell by any chance. I’ve fallen in love with it haha — figured I’d ask!” she asked Berman-Schechter. The house wasn’t for sale.
June 15 then rolled around, when Hochberg was due to pay the remaining rent, but the social media maven failed to cough up the $14,450 she owed, the court filing shows.
Still, she kept up appearances on Instagram just three days earlier, posting a photo of herself underneath a Japanese dogwood tree at the rented property, according to the New York Times, which first reported the story. Hochberg’s Instagram is now private.
“Montauk mornings in my new summer garden,” she wrote, with hashtags including #myownhome.
In the days leading up to her Aug. 8 move-out date, Hochberg’s father, Herman Hochberg, called and asked if his daughter could stay, Berman-Schechter told the outlet.
The answer was no, though Berman-Schechter said she offered to help Hochberg, who also works at the Hamptons celebrity hotspot Surf Lodge, find a new place to live.
That’s when the health guru claimed she and her dad — who was listed as an occupant on the lease agreement — were protected by the moratorium on evictions passed by Gov. Cuomo amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“You’re going to kick an almost 91-year-old man out in the middle of a global pandemic?” Hochberg texted, sending the landlord a New York Post story from May about well-heeled tenants using the law to squat in style, the Times reported.
Hochberg extended her summer vacation in the Berman-Schecter’s home until Oct. 12 — even trying to ward off eviction by suggesting she’d contracted COVID-19 and saying she’d been laid off from the Lodge.
“I don’t think new tenants would want a Covid-infected house?” she wrote in an Aug. 7 email, the Times said.
The social media darling, who says she has a “family home” in the tony tip of Long Island, also continued posting photos from the pad, including one on Sept. 2 of the home’s outdoor shower.
“I’ve heard September is the new August,” she captioned the snap, with an upside down smiley face emoji.
On Sept. 25, the couple filed suit in Suffolk County Supreme Court, asking for a judgement to boot Hochberg from the premises and to recoup the $14,450 owed, plus interest. They’re also demanding $35,300 in rent they say they lost out on because of their unwanted house guest, the filing says.
The suit is still pending.
Meanwhile, Hochberg also faced eviction proceedings last year by River Tower Owner LLC, which owns the Oriana luxury high-rise in Midtown. The filing alleges she owes $22,130, the Times said.
Hochberg and her father did not immediately return messages from The Post.
She told The Times the accusations were “fake news,” while Herman Hochberg downplayed his involvement.
“I think I slept there one night,” he said. “I have my own place in Montauk.”
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