Margaret Maugenest (and some dude in an anti-fur pin). Via Daily News/Getty images
Gowanus artist Margaret Maugenest hasn’t paid rent on her loft since 2003 because her building was crappy. The state Court of Appeals ruled yesterday she doesn’t have to because her landlord han’t kept the building up to standards. So if you’ve ever thought of holding back your rent until your landlord fixes up your crumbling apartment, this ruling is a nice arrow in your quiver:
“In the absence of compliance, the law’s command is quite clear,” said the decision, written by Judge Robert S. Smith, according to the Times.
Your loft is big. But is it legal? Photo by Emily Paup.
You can’t help the nagging feeling that something is wrong with your new digs. Maybe it’s the contant draft from the huge windows or the lead paint flakes dropping from the 15-foot ceiling. Welcome to loft living in Brooklyn, an unregulated jungle of non-residential zoning and tenant mistreatment. Before the 2010 Loft Law was passed, lofts existed in a legal grey area: Zoned for commercial use but filling up with residential units, where tenants had few avenues for demanding building improvements and little protection from arbitrary and illegal rent hikes or eviction.
The law is meant to protect loft tenants and bring commercial buildings up to residential code. If you’re a loft resident, you’ll get the opportunity to find out what the law really means to you on Tuesday night at a Panel on the State of the Loft Law in Bushwick. For instance, applying for coverage under the Loft Law allows landlords to raise the rent, but it also requires they bring buildings up to code while also giving tenants coverage under rent stabilization laws. And that’s what you can find out about at Tuesday’s meeting. (more…)