State court protects Brooklyn tenant that hasn’t paid rent since 2003

The State Court of Appeals protected a Brooklyn tenant’s right to live rent-free, the New York Times reported. Margaret Maugenest, who stopped paying $600 per month in rent for her artist’s loft at 280 Nevins Street in Gowanus in 2003 because of maintenance and safety issues, was allowed to continue to live in the space despite landlord Chazon LLC’s eviction attempts.

The Highest Court overturned lower court rulings because Chazon had not brought the converted commercial building up to residential standards, and hadn’t received an deadline extension to do so from the city’s Loft Board. As a result, Chazon can not evict tenants.

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In 1982 the city passed the Loft Law, which allowed about 900 former manufacturing and commercial buildings to be rented to tenants as long as the landlord makes those residential changes. To this day, more than 300 of those buildings have still yet to complete the process and earn certificates for occupancy. The Real Deal previously reported that the decision in this case would have widespread implications for loft landlords.

Meanwhile, Maugenest, who has lived in the building since 1984, has set aside her rent every month for the nine years in case she was forced to pay. [NYT]