Working and living in New York is a dream for many people. However, the city’s financial reality can quickly become an obstacle. Indeed, the high cost of housing is one of the main concerns of residents and visitors alike. Every day, this economic reality forces many New Yorkers to juggle their budgets or find their own ways to find decent housing in the city. However, some individuals, like Mickey Barreto, have found innovative strategies to get around this thorny problem. For five years, this man has managed to live rent-free in one of the city’s most famous hotels. Here’s how he managed to do it – and do it legally!

The New Yorker Hotel

Mickey Barreto’s story!

The New Yorker Hotel stands majestically in the immediate vicinity of the famous Madison Square Garden. It was in this sumptuous establishment that Mickey Barreto orchestrated an incredible deception, which began in June 2018. At the time, accompanied by his partner, he paid around $200 for a night in one of the thousand rooms of this iconic 1930s art deco building. Having just arrived from Los Angeles, a friend told him about a loophole in the local housing legislation.

Convinced that he could take advantage of a lease by paying for a night in a hotel, Mickey Barreto asked the establishment for this agreement, but was categorically refused. Determined, he went to court the very next day, believing he was in the right. However, after an initial ruling against him, he finally won his appeal, taking advantage of the absence of the owners’ lawyers at a crucial hearing. The judge then ordered the hotel to give him a key, forcing the owners to let him live on the premises.

The owners found themselves at an impasse. They stuck to their guns and continued to refuse to negotiate a lease with him, while at the same time being unable to kick him out because of the court ruling. As a result, Mickey Barreto was given the opportunity to stay in the hotel for five years free of charge. However, his attempt to claim ownership of the establishment took him too far and led to his arrest, ending this incredible urban saga.

What was the legal loophole that allowed him to sleep in the hotel for free?

Initially, Mickey Barreto booked a room at the New Yorker Hotel for $200 a night. However, the day after his arrival, on the advice of a friend, he demanded that the establishment provide him with a lease for his room. To justify his request, he referred to New York’s rent stabilization law.

This law, passed in 1969, was originally intended to protect tenants by regulating rent increases in multi-unit buildings. Under this legislation, occupants of single rooms in buildings with more than six units built before 1969 could be considered tenants. Consequently, they were entitled to expect a lease of at least six months. The New Yorker Hotel, inaugurated in 1930, therefore perfectly met the criteria set out in New York’s rent stabilization law. Mr. Barreto’s request was therefore perfectly legal.

How does the story end?

Facing 14 serious charges, the wheels of justice finally turned against Mickey Barreto when he was apprehended. He had falsified official hotel ownership documents in order to appropriate the staggering $189 million property. To do so, Mr. Barreto relied on an alleged transaction with the Unification Church in 1975.

He then attempted to legitimize his ownership of the 43-storey building, deceiving the authorities as well as several key industry players. It was his attempt to extort rent from the Wyndham Group, the hotel’s manager, that finally brought to light the extent of his audacity and dishonesty.

Did you know about Airbnb in New York?

If you find yourself wanting to rent an apartment via a platform like Airbnb in New York City, it’s crucial to take into consideration a recent, little-known but essential rule: for a period of less than 30 days, the owner is required to reside on site for the entire duration of your stay.

In other words, for any short rental, you’ll only be able to occupy a room in the owner’s home, rather than renting a complete, empty apartment. As a result of these strict booking requirements, only a minority of people are able to rent apartments via matchmaking platforms.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay in the Big Apple! For travelers looking for low rates, apartments with a “coup de coeur” and a change of scenery, New Jersey, just across the river from Manhattan, is the place to be.

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