New York cabbie uses obscure legal loophole to secure FREE Manhattan apartment for life

For many people, an apartment in New York City’s Chelsea area is nothing more than a dream.

But one cabbie has managed to secure such a home for life – at no cost to himself.

Oltimdje Ouattara, a TLC-licensed driver, discovered an obscure legal loophole that enabled him to score a free room at the Chelsea Highline Hotel, an illegal hostel at 184 11th Ave in Manhattan.

Unbelievably, his rent is $0 a month – and he can stay in the apartment for as long as he likes.

Ouattara achieved the incredible deal via New York’s Single Room Occupancy law and the Rent Stabilization Code, which aim to stop low-income tenants in single rooms from facing big rent hikes.

He had been renting a room for $48 a night at the hotel before discovering that he could apply to become a permanent tenant and have his rent ‘stabilized’.

Ouattara filed an official request to be a permanent tenant at the building, which falls under the law because it was constructed before July 1, 1969.

The cab driver was told by officials that his rental unit, 201, was not on the city’s system – and therefore, his monthly payment was $0, according to the New York Post.

This is in stark contrast to the thousands of dollars a month that Chelsea-based tenants typically fork out in rent.

The owners of the building, who run Chelsea Skybox LLC, were furious when they discovered that Ouattara could legally live in the room for free – and kicked him out, according to Gothamist.

They also shut down the hostel to prevent any other customers from doing the same.

Ouattara moved to The Bronx, where he reportedly shared a one-room apartment with five others.

While there, he sued the hostel’s owners, real-estate developer John Leitersdorf and his partner John Jacobsen – who had no legal right to evict Ouattara from his room – for residency, 

And now, a judge has sided with him.

Manhattan Housing Court Justice Sabrina Kraus agreed Ouattara’s rent can stay at $0 a month.

She added that the landlords of the building should have been ‘well aware’ of their ‘obligations’ because they had recently lost a similar case brought by Ouattara’s neighbor, Hamidou Guira.

Guira is also living in a room in the building – in his case, for a mere $226 a month – after submitting a request to become a permanent tenant under the state’s rent stabilization laws.

And four others in the  property have also used the same legal loophole to their advantage.

Now, Ouattara can legally live at Chelsea Highline Hotel rent-free.

He can renew his occupancy indefinitely – and cannot be evicted again without a Court Order.

Leitersdorf and Jacobson, meanwhile, have filed a lawsuit against Ouattara, the city and the state.

They claim the laws are ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘tantamount to taking property without due process.

Single room occupancy is a form of typically affordable housing where one or two people live in individual rooms within a multi-tenant building. The occupants often share a bathroom and kitchen.

Source: The DailyMail

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