A taxi driver has harnessed a little-known housing law to score cheap lodging in not-cheap Chelsea. From the Post comes word that Hamidou Guira, a hero or a villain depending on personal preference for sticking it to the man, has scored a $226/month apartment at the former SRO at 184 Eleventh Avenue. With the alleged help of a fellow friend and cheap-digs dweller, Guira invoked a law written into Rent Stabilization and New York City administrative codes that says that an occupant who requests a lease of six months or more at the former SRO "shall be a permanent tenant." The owner of the building must accept the tenant at the stabilized rate, which at the property is a meager $226. The lease can be renewed indefinitely.
The owner of the former SRO, which now serves as the Chelsea High Line Hotel, is rightly pissed. The building's owners brought Guira to housing court, but a judge ruled that Guira was "unlawfully evicted" from the building when the hotel's manager attempted to bar him from entering on July 31 after Guira gave notice that he wanted to become a permanent tenant. The building's owner plans on partnering with the nonprofit Clinton Housing Development Corp. to convert the building into 15 units of affordable housing, asking from $800.
[Update: An article in the New York Law Journal sheds more light on the details of the case. Here's how it all played out:
Guira checked into Room 301 for one night on July 30 and paid for the room. He also made a written request for permanent occupancy, which is allowed under Rent Stabilization...Simultaneously, Guira went online and booked another room for two weeks at the Chelsea Highline beginning July 31, according to the ruling in Guira v. Audthan...[W]hen Guira returned to the hotel and sought to claim his room at 10:30 a.m. on July 31, after a night working as a cab driver, he was barred by a hotel employee, who told him he would not be permitted to remain longer. Guira was told that the hotel's manager had instructed employees not to allow Guira to become a permanent resident, according to [the court's] ruling. Guira's room key was disabled and he was told his possessions were put into storage and that he couldn't retrieve them. Instead of fighting with the hotel, [the judge] noted, Guira turned to the Civil Court for help on July 31. Hotels that are subject to rent stabilization must provide leases to occupants after 15 days of occupancy if they request one. The hotels must also notify occupants at the time of registration of the right to request a lease under Rent Stabilization Code §§2520.6 and 2522.5.
· Cabby lands $226 Manhattan pad for life using obscure law [NYP]
· Hotel Faulted for Violations Under Rent Stabilization [New York Law Journal]
· Advocacy Group Takes Aim at 7 of NYC's Worst Landlords [Curbed]
· New Rent Laws May Be Better For Tenants Than Expected [Curbed]
· Soho Penthouse Owner Sues Over 'Fear' Caused By Rooftop Bar [Curbed]
· Lifestyles of the Rent Stabilized archives [Curbed]