Published On: Fri, Jul 3rd, 2020

Airport Inn loses lawsuit against Bada Bing company

Bada Bing

PHILIPSBURG – Lunteren, the company of former Bada Bing-owner Jaap van den Heuvel does not have to pay Airport Inn Hotel $875,000 in rent arrears, for a disappeared generator and for reconstruction costs for its building on the Sr. Patientia Road in Simpson Bay that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

The court of appeals confirmed a ruling by the Court in First Instance that sentenced Lunteren to pay $16,400 in rent arrears. The costs of the appeal procedure – around 16,000 guilders ($8,940) are for the account of Airport Inn.

Lunteren rented the Airport Inn Hotel building from June 1, 2006, for $20,000 per month. On June 1, 2016, the owner increased the rent to $22,000. The court established that over the years, Airport Inn collected more than $2.5 million in rent from Lunteren, the company that operated the Bada Bing brothel.

Lunteren made significant changes to the first floor of the building. In May 2015, Airport Inn demanded that the company restore the first floor to its original state or pay $300,000.

Lunteren had paid up to $10,000 for the rent of August 2017; shortly afterwards, Hurricane Irma destroyed the building and the tenant stopped paying rent. In October, Airport Inn demanded payment of the rent arrears to the tune of $56,000 and proposed a 30 percent cut in future rent payments.

A week later, Airport Inn filed a complaint for the theft of a generator and two freezers. To all this, Lunteren replied: “When a rental place cannot be rented anymore no payments can take place.”

In December 2017 Airport Inn dissolved the lease agreement with Lunteren out of court and put a lien on Lunteren’s bank assets. At the same time, it demanded payment of $189,000 in rent arrears, the return of the generator (or payment of $16,000) and payment of $670,000 for the reconstruction of the damaged building.

The Court in First Instance did not agree with these demands: it just ordered Lunteren to pay $16,400 in rent arrears. Airport Inn appealed this decision.

The Common Court of Justice writes in its ruling of June 26 that the building was seriously damaged by Hurricane Irma and that Lunteren was unable to continue doing business at the location.

Lunteren specified the situation in its brief to the court: “After Irma, almost nothing was left of the building. Only the swimming pool was relatively undamaged.” The company furthermore noted that three-quarters of the roof was gone, that practically all windows were broken, that palm trees had snapped, and that both levels of the building were seriously damaged.

Considering all these circumstances the court labeled Airport Inn’s position that the building would be repaired shortly after the hurricane if only Lunteren paid its rent arrears as unrealistic. After the hurricane, the court ruled, Lunteren was entitled to decrease its rent to zero.

The court also did not understand why the renovations Lunteren executed over the years still matter, since the whole building had to be reconstructed anyway.

Another point against the plaintiffs is that the manager of Airport Inn was a regular visitor to Bada Bing and that it therefore cannot have escaped his attention what type of business Lunteren was operating on the property. Furthermore, it allowed the renovations for eleven years against a good rental fee, the court observes in its ruling.

It is unacceptable, the ruling states, to call on an article in the civil code that makes prior permission for renovations mandatory and requires leaving a property in its original state after collecting rent for eleven years and after the damages inflicted by Hurricane Irma.

The court ruled the complaints from Airport Inn are unrealistic and “insufficiently substantiated.” It confirmed the ruling of the lower court and ordered Airport Inn to pay the costs of the procedure.