A couple have managed to avoid paying rent for six years in an extortionately expensive part of New York City.
Karen Nourse and Zachary Bennett haven’t paid the $4,754 a month rent on their West 26th Street loft since 2010 and their landlord is understandably a bit peeved at the situation.
The landlord claims the couple owe him a whopping $410,000 in rent and electric charges but they believe they’ve stumbled across a legal loophole that means they won’t have to pay a penny.
But how are they getting away with living in a trendy part of New York rent free? Well it’s all to do with something called the Loft Law, The New York Post reports.
Loft law is intended to protect people whose apartments are in mostly commercial or industrial buildings.
New York made changes to the state’s Loft Law back in 2010, expanding its powers, which according to Bennett and Nourse’s legal team means they don’t have to pay rent as they’re the only residential tenants in a building registered for commercial use.
The couple’s lawyer, Margaret Sandercock, said:
This building does not comply with the Loft Law, the owner is not entitled to collect rent and my clients are not required to pay rent.
The landlord’s legal team argue that Loft Law only applies to buildings with at least three residential tenants so as Bennett and Nourse are the only residential tenants in the building it can’t apply.
Harry Shapiro, the landlord’s lawyer told the New York Post:
They can stay if they pay. The unit is legal . . . We really don’t want to evict them. We just want them to pay the rent. They’re getting all the services but the landlord got zippo.
Both Nourse and Bennett argue that when they first moved into the building there were other tenants so Loft Law would still apply.
Their lawyer insisted that the building is unsafe, but defended her clients’ choice to stay in the flat rent free.