Woman who didn't pay rent for 9 years wins case
Landlord can't evict her if he hasn't kept the building up to code, New York court rules. The Loft Law allows commercial buildings to be used as residences if they meet safety standards.
Since 2003, artist Margaret Maugenest has refused to pay the rent on her loft in Brooklyn, saying the building is not up to code.
Four years after her landlord sued to evict her, the New York State Court of Appeals has agreed. Maugenest can keep the $60,000 in unpaid rent she has faithfully put into escrow since she stopped paying nine years ago.
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New York City has some of the strongest tenant-protection laws in the nation. Maugenest's building, an abandoned shoe factory turned into lofts in 1979, is subject to the 1982 Loft Law. That law requires landlords to bring former commercial buildings up to fire and safety standards in order to use them as residential rental buildings.
According to Maugenest and her neighbors, her landlord has not done that.
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The building owner's law, David Berger, argued that the law itself has made it impossible for the owner to make the necessary upgrades, since it requires tenants to approve all improvements. "If it wasn’t safe, they wouldn’t be living there," he said in The Times.
Artists began moving into the building in 1979 and have made improvements themselves, including replacing all the windows in the 1990s. Maugenest, who arrived in 1984, paid for all the plumbing and electrical work in her loft.
"The residents have done a lot to keep the building from crumbling," textile artist Janice Everett said in The Times.
An unknown number of other buildings in New York could be in the same situation. About 300 have not yet met the requirements of the 30-year-old Loft Law, but it's not known how many have received extensions, The Times reported.
This is simply a tenent working the system. Scum bag tenents far out number scum bag landlords.
It sounds like a catch 22. You can`t make repairs if no one pays rent. He shouldn`t have rented untill each unit was at,
code., one at a time. Why did the city let him rent the units without having them inspected or setting up a time frame for
the repairs? sounds like he was short on cash from the start. need more info.
People this was not a negotiation process. It was a court applying the law as written by the lawmakers.
That law says landlords must meet certain requirements of habitability to collect rent for that space. If you rent the space and it does not meet those requirements or a any time falls below the minimum requirements the tenant may withhold rent payment until said repairs are made .
Instead of repairing the unit or units he elected to evict this woman. The article doesn't say why, but it was a stupid move one I'm sure he is now regretting.
This is a mighty blow against slumlords who want to skim profits off buildings they rent predominantly to the poor and disenfranchised who don't know how to combat these sleazebags. This guy has skirted established law, for 30 years, yet expects to be able to profit from his own flagrant disregard. I'm glad to see the stake put through the heart by people who do know their rights, use the law the right way (good idea: escrow account, showing intent to pay upon performance), and benefit the interests of many others who don't know how to use the legal system.
For those of you defending the landlord's position, note that the building wasn't in compliance with code for residential use 30 years ago -- ipso facto, he had no right to allow people to move in, let alone collect rent. "To live outside the law, you must be honest." -- Bob Dylan
"If you are here to claim you've not paid your rent due to maintenance issues YOU WILL LOSE YOUR CASE. If you are still living at the address you apparently feel it is habitable, and thus you are required to pay rent. Georgia law is very clear. IF YOU LIVE THERE, YOU PAY YOUR RENT."
He goes on for ten minutes. We own better than 300 apartments, and after many years people still manage to surprise me. Most of the time, though, it's the same games. A resident owing us rent will vanish in the night leaving piles of trash only to show up a month later claiming they'd not left and that we stole their laptop (funny as most of them can't SPELL lap top let alone use one). The ever popular, "I didn't pay my rent 'cuz I have MOLD!", one woman even going so far as to spray paint her bathroom ceiling green and trying to introduce her "fotagrafic evidens" as she spelled it in the writ answer. One growing in popularity is BEDBUGS. Yes, they often DO have them (making it HELL to turn over the unit), but we've always been able to prove it was because they'd fished every piece of furniture they had out of OUR DUMPSTER (PEOPLE! IT WAS THERE FOR A REASON!). The popular, "They're gonna keep my deposit!"...an irony considering we've not charged a deposit in the 54 years since our family built the place. A good one..."I'm not paying because my electric bill is too high!"...of course that has nothing to do with them keeping the A/C on 55 and the heat on 90.
The old saying is, "I see so much I could write a book!". I actually am. If you have any good stories to contribute contact me with a message on Facebook under Michael R. Chase (email email@example.com)!
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.