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$226 Chelsea Apartment Ignites Legal Battle Over Rent Laws

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The little-known rent stabilization law that allowed a taxi driver to claim a $226/month rental—for life—is being challenged in court. The super cheap apartment exists at the Highline Hotel in Chelsea, an establishment that is subject to the Rent Stabilization Code because it is a former SRO (single room occupancy) hotel that was constructed before 1969. The hotel owners brought tenant Hamidou Guira to court, but Manhattan Housing Court Judge Sabrina Kraus ruled in Guira's favor earlier this summer, allowing him to stay in the $226 digs. Evidently, all an SRO occupant has to do is book one night, request a lease for six months, and the owner has to comply. Now the owners are suing the state, the city, and resident Oltimdje Outtara, and appealing the Guira ruling. An attorney said the law amounts to "unconstitutional taking," according to the Daily News.

The law may seem outdated—the lawsuit says "it is unfathomable that such an outcome was ­intended by the drafters of these various sections of the code"—but city and state attorneys are ready to push back if Justice Cynthia Kern tries to strike down the regulations after the case is decided. They argue that this could weaken rent-stabilization laws.
· Landlord suing everyone he can to end dirt-cheap rent loophole [NYP]
· Chelsea hotel fighting guests who never leave by using odd NYC rent regulations [NYDN]
· Taxi Driver Scores $226 Chelsea Rental Using Little-Known Law [Curbed]