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Man accused of using obscure housing law to live rent free in NYC for 5 years finally arrested
Featured Image Credit: Noam Galai/Getty Images/Getty Stock Images

Man accused of using obscure housing law to live rent free in NYC for 5 years finally arrested

The saga has been going on for five years

A man who was been living rent-free in a New York hotel has finally been arrested.

Mickey Barreto, 48, has been living free of charge in a hotel in Manhattan after exploiting a local housing law.

But he has this week been arrested and charged with filing false property records after he tried to claim ownership of the entire hotel - and even charge another tenant rent.

Barreto first started living at the hotel with his boyfriend five years ago, when they paid $200 to rent a room.

Barreto says his boyfriend told him about a law that allows occupants of single rooms in buildings constructed before 1969 to be given a six-month lease.

When Barreto asked for the lease, the hotel kicked him out, but he took them to court.

“So I went to court the next day. The judge denied. I appealed to the (state) Supreme Court and I won the appeal,” he said.

The hotel were forced to give Barreto a key and he's been living in the building without paying a penny.

Barreto has been living in the New Yorker hotel.
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

But things get even more bizarre.

In 2019, Barreto claimed he owned the hotel, and tried to file false property records transferring ownership from the current owners - the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity - to himself.

“As alleged, Mickey Barreto repeatedly and fraudulently claimed ownership of one of the City’s most iconic landmarks, the New Yorker Hotel,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

"We will not tolerate manipulation of our city's property records by those who seek to scam the system for personal gain."

The Unification Church has sued Barreto over the claims, and the case is currently still ongoing.

“I never intended to commit any fraud. I don’t believe I ever committed any fraud,” Barreto said. “And I never made a penny out of this.”

Barreto argues that when he was given possession of the hotel room, he indirectly acquired the entire hotel due to the fact it hadn't been subdivided.

The loophole refers to buildings constructed before 1969.
Archive Photos/Getty Images

According to The Real Deal, Barreto said in court: "That building was never subdivided. It’s all one lot. It’s all one parcel. So what affects that part of the building called [room] 2565, whatever happens in there, happens to the whole lot, the whole parcel."

When police showed up to arrest Barreto at the hotel this week, he says he initially thought it was a Valentine's Day prank from his boyfriend.

“I said, ‘Oh, I thought you were doing something for Valentine’s Day to spice up the relationship until I saw the female officers,’” he said.

Topics: US News, Weird, Money, New York