NYC Landlord Can't Evict Because of Code Violations, Court Rules

By Andrew Lu on June 12, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

No NYC eviction for tenant Margaret Maugenest.

Maugenest has lived at the Gowanus loft at 280 Nevins Street in Brooklyn since 1984. She hasn't paid rent since 2003.

Despite living rent free for almost a decade, New York's highest court ruled that the building owner Chazon LLC could not evict Maugenest. So how did Maugenest manage to live rent free in one of the New York's high rent districts?

Back in 1982, the Loft Law was passed in New York that allowed developers to convert former manufacturing and commercial buildings to residential lofts, reports The New York Times. As a part of the law, landlords had to make certain changes and updates to the buildings like adding safety measures and bringing the buildings up to residential code.

Apparently, the loft that Margaret Maugenest lived in was never brought up to code. And so she withheld rent, for nine years.

In 2008, Chazon LLC brought a NYC eviction lawsuit against Maugenest for nonpayment of rent. Two lower courts ruled in Chazon's favor, reports the Times. However, last week, the State Court of Appeals overruled the lower courts and ruled that Maugenest could not be evicted.

Chazon missed the deadline to bring the building up to residential code, the court said. As a result, it could not evict tenants, even for not paying rent for nine years.

This case could have a serious negative impact on several landlords, as the Times reports that about 300 buildings are not up to code. If this is the case, there are thousands of tenants that could potentially withhold rent.

If you find yourself in a situation similar to Margaret Maugenest, you may want to find a landlord tenant attorney you, and learn about your rights to avoid a NYC eviction.

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