April 14, 2010

Assembly Passes Legislation To Increase Protections For New York City Loft Tenants
Measures Would Help Safeguard Against Unfair Eviction Practices and Ensure Adequate Maintenance and Repairs in Non-Traditional Housing in New York City

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Housing Committee Chair Vito Lopez today announced the passage of legislation to better protect residents living in lofts from unfair eviction and sub-standard maintenance and repairs. The Assembly passed a similar package of bills last year.

"It's critical that we ensure strong protections for tenants in New York City living in non-traditional rental housing that may not be covered under housing law," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "This legislation will help to ensure that those who live in lofts - officially known as interim multiple dwellings - are granted the same basic rights that other tenants have."

"The time has come to expand the loft law to include thousands of uncovered units," said Lopez (D-Brooklyn). "By passing this legislation, we take a step towards providing safe and affordable housing for artists and others occupying these live work spaces. These tenants are playing vital roles in revitalizing such communities as Williamsburg, Bushwick, Greenpoint and DUMBO."

"The loft movement, which began in lower Manhattan, demonstrated the value of adaptive reuse of commercial buildings for residential use by artists," said Assembly Member Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan). "As we struggle to maintain our creative community, renewing the Loft Law with these added elements ensures that New York will maintain its prime position in the creative arts."

The Loft Law was originally enacted following an increase in the number of commercial and manufacturing buildings being converted for residential use. These buildings often lacked compliance with laws regarding housing maintenance, health, safety and fire protection standards. Currently, loft buildings include buildings that do not possess a residential certificate of occupancy, were previously used for non-residential purposes, and housed three or more tenants in separate units between April 1, 1980, and December 1, 1981.

Legislation passed by the Assembly would bring additional housing in Manhattan and other boroughs under Loft Law protections by expanding the definition of an "interim multiple dwelling" to include buildings in New York City that were occupied by two or more families living in separate units for 12 consecutive months between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 (A.5667-B/V. Lopez). This legislation also provides that a reduction in the number of occupied rooms in the building after the 12-month requirement would not eliminate protections for remaining residential occupants.

Under current law, at least three tenants occupying separate units are required to bring a performance action against an owner, even in cases of buildings with fewer than three units. Legislation passed by the Assembly would allow a single tenant to bring such action against an owner without a prior finding by the Loft Board (A.6368/Glick). Additionally, this bill would extend the provisions of the Loft Law for three years.

Also included in this package of legislation is a measure prohibiting the interruption of services in 'would be' interim multiple dwellings if the units are used for residential purposes with the knowledge and consent of the owner (A.6940-A/V.Lopez).