The Real Deal New York

Obscure law lets cabbie rent Chelsea apartment for $226 per month for life

Two drivers utilize long-forgotten rent control provision in Chelsea hotel

August 13, 2015 08:30AM

Hotel Highline Chelsea at 182-184 11th Avenue

Hotel Highline Chelsea at 182-184 11th Avenue

A keen understanding of New York’s notoriously arcane housing laws can really pay off. Just ask two city cabbies who live in tony Chelsea for pennies on the dollar, all thanks to a near-forgotten chapter of the rent stabilization laws.

Two cab drivers, Joe Stevens and Hamidou Guira, managed to exploit a section of the rent stabilization and New York City administrative codes to secure themselves apartments just off the High Line, with Guira paying a more-than-affordable rate of $226 per month.

The hacks live at the Chelsea Highline Hotel at 182-184 11th Avenue in Chelsea, where rents average around $3,200.

But the hotel is a former single-room occupancy building, and the law states that “an occupant who requests a lease of six months or more … shall be a permanent tenant.” Theoretically, the law applies to any hotel in the city, the New York Post reported.

Guira filed the paperwork after spending just one night at the hotel. The Chelsea Highline’s manager tried to physically prevent him from entering the room, but Guira took the hotel to court, represented himself and won.

Stevens, the mastermind, has been living at the hotel for the last 20 years, paying relative pocket change. While he denies giving Guira legal advice, he told the Post he does steer people toward cheap housing.

The hotel’s owners, listed as Nick & Duke in property records, are planning to turn the Chelsea Highline into 15 affordable housing units with starting rent at $800 a month. [NYP]Ariel Stulberg