New York City's legendary CBGB nightclub has been saved, after a judge ruled the punk Mecca cannot be evicted from its Bowery location just because its owner failed to notice he owed its landlords rent money.

The club's owner Hilly Kristal claims he wasn't billed for the venue's $100,000 (GBP55,000) rent increases, interest and fees, so failed to pay them for four years.

But the executive director of the Bowery Residents' Committee, Muzzy Rosenblatt insists the increases were clearly stated in the lease.

Kristal launched a month-long bid to save the landmark club from closure, by planning a 30-date festival of big-name acts, including Blondie, Talking Heads, Ramones and Patti Smith.

However, JUDGE JOAN KENNEY told the court yesterday (10AUG05) that the venue saved the neighbourhood from "destitution, degradation and substance abuse" when it opened in 1973 and has become one of New York's most celebrated landmarks.

She said, "CBGB has proven itself worthy of being recognised as a landmark - a rare achievement for any commercial tenant in the ever diverse and competitive real estate market of New York City.

"It would be unconscionable for this court to allow petitioner to proceed with its intent to evict CBGB ... because it failed to notice that monies were outstanding for approximately four years."

But the future of the nightspot still remains uncertain, because CBGB's lease expires later this month (31AUG05) and a renewal has not yet been arranged.