While most everyone in New York City would agree that the “rent is too damn high,” at least one Brooklyn woman doesn't worry about it. Why? Because she has been living rent-free for over six years.
“Artist Margaret Maugenest, 60, stopped paying rent for several years, but instead of getting evicted, the state’s highest court said she was justified,” CBS New York reports.
“Yeah, I feel very good about that...I feel very relieved,” said Maugenest.
Watch the CBS New York news brief:
Here’s how it works: Maugenest moved in to her loft, a converted manufacturing building, in1984 but stopped paying rent some years back over “safety concerns.”
“The wooden pillars in the basement were rotting,” Maugenest said.
Under the city’s 1982 Loft Law, former commercial buildings can only be rented to residential tenants if safety issues are met, CBS New York reports.
And, according to Maugenest, when there was a gas leak in the building, the landlord never fixed it; it was simply shut off.
“We didn’t have gas for about a year-and-a-half,” Maugenest said. “That meant I couldn’t cook.”
So she stopped paying rent. Of course, after several years of non-payment, her landlord tried to have her evicted.
"The landlord won two lower rulings, but now, the state’s highest court said that since the landlord missed deadlines for building improvement, there’s no eviction, and back rent can’t be collected," CBS New York reports.
“The result is that the tenant may live rent free in a very large apartment, that she obviously feels safe in, under the guise that she is just trying to get the Landlord to make her apartment safe, with no end or limit,” Said David Berger, the landlord’s lawyer.
Maugenest will be allowed to keep all the back rent for the past 6 1/2 years (about $35,000).
"Rather than pocket the $35,000 that she set aside on the advice of her lawyer, it’s about half of what she owes to her attorney for the lengthy court fight," the report adds.