Since 2003 Gowanus artist Margaret Maugenest hasn't paid rent for the loft she lives and works in—and yesterday the State's Court of Appeals said her landlord is not allowed to evict her for it. Maugenest says she has been witholding her rent (which was under $600) because of maintenance, fire and safety issues in the space, which has never been fully converted for residential living. And until those get dealt with it seems there isn't really anything Chazon LLC, which owns the building, can do.

Maugenest moved into the loft at 280 Nevins Street in 1984 (the blog Pardon Me For Asking actually visited her there last year—she sounds like a fun lady). Her legal problems, however, started in 2008 when Chazon sued to evict her. Initially the courts were in the landlord's favor, and then they weren't. "On Thursday, the appeals court said that because Chazon had missed deadlines for bringing the building up to residential code, and did not receive an extension from the city’s Loft Board, state law prohibited it from evicting tenants, even for nonpayment."

"Certificate of occupancy work is not just about really nice amenities that make the tenants happier," Maugenest's lawyer Margaret Sandercock said yesterday. "It’s fire and safety."

And before you start freaking out about what a lucky lady Maugenest has been to live rent-free, know that just because she hasn't paid her rent doesn't mean she hasn't been putting it aside. According to her lawyer she's got the money ready to go if the courts tell her to pay up. If not, the artist has a nice $60,000-or-so nest egg to fall back on!