I think that it’s safe to assume that when you hear the words “code violations” in the context of residential buildings, the typical reaction is that of disgust. You’re probably conjuring up some picture of a slumlord who allows his low income tenants to live in inhuman living conditions. However, if you would ask Ms. Margaret Augenest, an artist who has not paid her Brooklyn landlord rent since 2003, I would bet that you would get a different response. Yes, if do the math correctly; this woman has not paid her rent in over 9 years!
According to this NYT report, The New York Court of Appeals has now ruled in an opinion that according to a 1982 loft law, owners of commercial buildings are permitted to rent to residential tenants only after the owners make safety upgrades and obtained a residential certificate of occupancy (COO), something that Ms. Augenest’s landlord has failed to do. The court said that the law thus “leave[s] these parties in their present stalemate until compliance has been achieved.” Essentially, they are barred from collecting rent until all compliance codes have been satisfied.
The company’s lawyer, David Berger, told the Times the company has been encountering difficulty in meeting the requirements, because all improvements must be approved by the tenant, and the tenants have not been cooperating.
I really have no clue if the landlord has been attempting in good faith to correct these building issues, and maybe he should be fined or sanctioned, but I can tell one thing for sure: Ms. Augenest, who seemed comfortable enough to live there for over 9 years, or 108 months, should pay her rent! If not the whole rent, then part of it. If not to the “bad boy” landlords, then to the city of Brooklyn who should then use it clean the streets or renovate a park so little kids can play on the swings. Imagine if we’ll hear of someone not having to pay for a burger at some diner- and for 9 years (!) – because they failed some health inspection. Why this woman should keep the 60k in rent is truly beyond me.