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Man Lived Rent-Free in New York City Hotel for 5 Years. But, How?

By Orgesta Tolaj


24 March 2024

Rent-free New York City hotel

© Associated Press

Living in New York City is notoriously expensive, especially when it comes to accommodation. So how did one man manage to live rent-free in a New York City hotel for 5 years? It seems like an unbelievable feat, but it’s a true story that has left many people scratching their heads in wonder. Here is the loophole that he discovered and how he took advantage of it.

This Man Lived Rent-Free In a Famous New York City Hotel

Mickey Barreto, a resident of New York, ingeniously lived in the renowned New Yorker Hotel for an impressive five years without ever paying a cent in rent. His method? Exploiting a little-known loophole in local housing regulations. However, his free ride came to a screeching halt when he was apprehended by the police last week. The charges against him, brought forth by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, include filing fraudulent property records, stemming from his audacious attempt to claim homeownership of the historic hotel.

Rent-free New York City hotel
© Tânia Mousinho / Unsplash

Adding insult to injury, Barreto even had the audacity to try and charge another tenant residing in the building rent, further exacerbating his legal woes. For the Manhattan district attorney, this incident was the final straw, prompting swift action against Barreto and his illicit housing endeavors.

The Loophole That Made it All Possible

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accused Mickey Barreto of fraudulently claiming ownership of the New Yorker Hotel, a historic landmark in New York City. Barreto’s residency in the hotel began in 2018 when he discovered a loophole in the city’s Rent Stabilization Code, allowing tenants in individual rooms in pre-1969 buildings to request a six-month lease. After purchasing a room for a night, Barreto claimed tenant status. However, his request for a lease led to his eviction from the hotel.

Rent-free New York City hotel
© Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Barreto sued the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, owners of the New Yorker Hotel since 1976. Initially denied by a judge, the case reached the state Supreme Court. Barreto won by default as the owners failed to appear at trial. Although ordered to provide Barreto with a key, no lease terms were agreed upon. Consequently, Barreto remained in the hotel until July 2023 without paying rent, protected from eviction.

The Arrest of Mr. Barreto

The Manhattan District Attorney stated that over time, Barreto falsely represented himself as the owner of the New Yorker Hotel and attempted to profit from it. He allegedly registered the hotel under his name with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. This was to transfer its bank accounts to himself. In 2019, the Unification Church sued Barreto for claiming ownership on LinkedIn and uploading a forged deed to a city website.

Rent-free New York City hotel
© Pixabay / Pexels

The case is ongoing, and Barreto has been instructed to refrain from asserting ownership. Business Insider contacted Barreto’s company for comment but received no response. Barreto denied any fraudulent intent, claiming he never profited from the situation. When questioned, the NYPD referred inquiries to the district attorney’s office.

What do you think of the man who lived rent-free in the New York City hotel?

You might also want to read: Brad Pitt Allows 105-Year-Old Neighbor to Live Rent-Free on His $39 Million House

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!