By Anna Hopkins
Published March 03, 2019
Model Emily Ratajkowksi and her husband, filmmaker Sebastian Bear-McClard, have exploited a legal loophole to avoid paying rent at their pricey Manhattan loft for two years, their landlord said in a lawsuit.
Ratajkowksi, 27, is worth an estimated $6 million, while her hubby, 31, has a net worth of $11 million.
According to a lawsuit, the couple has been able to live rent-free at the 1,100 square foot apartment because of an obscure New York state law called the Loft Law. Passed in 1982, the law prohibits tenants living illegally in former commercial or factory buildings to be tossed out.
It was reportedly partially intended to help struggling artists living in Manhattan studios from getting evicted for not paying rent.
The law says that if a building does not have a residential certificate of occupancy, obliging landlords to bring fire and safety codes up to modern standards, they can't evict tenants from living there.
Ratajkowki and Bear-McClard's building does not have the required certificate, so they can't be evicted even though they've allegedly skipped out on payments since their lease expired in 2017. According to records, Bear-McClard has been subletting the second floor apartment since 2013.
Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for a coalition of loft building owners which includes the couple's home at 49 Bleecker Street, criticized Ratajkowski and her husband for "taking advantage" of a law meant to help those struggling to make ends meet.
"Here is a prime example, in prime NYC real estate, where an uber-wealthy celebrity couple and tenant can take advantage and exploit a law that was intended for truly struggling artists and low-income families in need of affordable housing," she said.
In response, Bear-McClard's attorney Michael Kozek defended his client, saying that he is an artist who wants to continue living in his home.
“Mr. McClard is fighting to save his home, which he has lived in for years,” he said.
“He’s an artist. Born and raised New Yorker and a child of artists who themselves fought to save their homes, including under the Loft Law.”