Manhattan couple haven't paid rent for six years due to legal loophole

The building does not have a residential certificate so they should not have to pay, they argue

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The Independent US

A couple living in one of New York’s most expensive neighbourhoods havs refused to pay rent for more than six years claiming that a loophole in the law makes them exempt.

Zachary Bennett and Karen Nourse have lived for free with their two children in a $4,754-a-month (£3,908) flat in Chelsea, Manhattan.

The family claim that since the building does not have a residential certificate of occupancy, they should not have to pay.

But their landlord has claimed the couple now owe $410,000 (£337,000) in unpaid rent and electricity bills, according to a law suit.

While other households were living in the nine-story building when they first moved in, the other floors are now occupied with businesses.

Under little known legislation known as "Loft Law", people living in illegal commercial and factory buildings are afforded protections.

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The legislation – which was expanded in 2010 – was as designed to improve fire safety protections and prevents the family from having to pay, their lawyer said.

“This building does not comply with the Loft Law,” their lawyer, Margaret Sandercock, told the New York Post. “The owner is not entitled to collect rent and my clients are not required to pay rent.”

Yet, Harry Shapiro, a lawyer for the landlord, told the tabloid that the couple should pay, since the law only applied to buildings with three residential tenants or more.