The Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon is facing possible eviction from its Georgetown office building for allegedly overstaying its lease, according to a lawsuit (PDF) filed yesterday in Washington federal court.
The Trustees of Harvard University, which own the building in question at 1700 Wisconsin Avenue in northwest Washington, claim the embassy failed to extend or renew the lease before it expired Jan. 31 and are asking U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell to order the U.S. Marshals Service to evict the embassy.
According to the complaint, the embassy began looking for a temporary space in early 2010 as renovations were underway at its permanent headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue.
In April 2010, the embassy signed a lease with the trustees to use the entire Wisconsin Avenue building. According to the lease agreement, the embassy agreed to pay more than $1 million in total rent and expenses.
While the embassy had the option of extending the lease, they failed to do so, the trustees allege. As of yesterday’s filing – a week after the lease expired – the embassy hadn’t signed a new lease and was still using the building, according to the complaint.
Although foreign embassies have immunity against a wide range of civil claims in the United States under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the embassy agreed to waive any immunity as part of its lease agreement with the trustees.
A representative of the embassy did not immediately return a request for comment this morning.
Paul Kiernan and Kristina Crooks of Holland & Knight are representing the trustees. The firm referred questions to Harvard; a university representative was not immediately available for comment.