"Loft Law" Protects New York's Creative Community
Building on its commitment to fight for greater affordable housing protections, the Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation to protect loft tenants from unfair rent hikes and eviction. Thousands of loft tenants denied basic protections other tenants enjoy under the current housing law will be given the security they deserve due to this legislation (S7178B/Dilan).
The Loft Law, permanently extends housing law protections to more residents in commercial and manufacturing buildings that have been converted into residential use. It recognizes the contributions artists and others who live and work in lofts have made to revitalizing neighborhoods and communities throughout New York City.
The legislation passed 32-28, with all Senate Republicans opposing this measure.
Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn), lead sponsor of this legislation said, “Thousands of people living in New York call these lofts home. For their safety, and for the sake of addressing the ongoing issue of illegally converted commercial space, the Loft Law needs to be made permanent. In doing so we make sure that all rental units meet the same safety, and tenant protection standards, that are necessary to protecting tenants and landlords’ investments.”
Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, "Particularly during these difficult economic times, we must continue to expand affordable housing protections for New York's tenants. Making the Loft Law permanent provides residents with the security they need and the affordable housing they deserve.”
New York first enacted the Loft Law in 1982 after working artists converted commercial spaces in Soho and Tribeca into live-work residential dwellings. These buildings did not comply with laws governing zoning, health, safety and fire protection standards applicable to residential occupants. The 1982 law was designed to protect residential tenants from substandard conditions, arbitrary evictions, and unfair rent increases. It only applied to those who were living in lofts in 1980 and 1981. The law was updated in 1987 to include more loft residents, but still does not afford protections to tenants living in units converted to residential use after 1987.
The Loft Law of 2010 will bridge the gap by protecting the thousands of tenants currently living in units converted to residential use after 1987. Lofts that have had a resident in place for at least one year between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 will now be covered. It provides tenant protections and ensures that the housing units will be brought into compliance with laws regarding housing maintenance, health, safety and fire protection standards.
Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) said, "The Loft Law is absolutely essential to protect the creative artists who contribute so much to neighborhoods across Brooklyn and New York City. They deserve the same basic rights other tenants have, and today we acted to ensure they will have them.”
Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Lower East Side/Brooklyn) said, “Our community has greatly benefited from the New Yorkers, many of them artists, who have refurbished loft buildings for studios and residences. The legislation that the Senate Majority passed today will help them stay in their homes and ensure that they have the same protections as any other tenant.”
Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens) said, "The hard work of artists and other creative people has converted vast tracts of warehouses and empty manufacturing space into vibrant neighborhoods. They have brought new life to our neighborhoods and enriched our culture. By passing this legislation to protect these hardworking people from arbitrary evictions, unfair rent increases and substandard housing conditions, the Senate recognizes their contributions to our city and our culture.”
Provisions of the Loft Law of 2010:
- Amends the definition of loft dwellings to include commercial or manufacturing buildings occupied for residential purposes for 12 consecutive months during the period starting 1/1/08 and ending 12/31/09 and extends existing Loft Law protections to tenants in these buildings;
- Requires that non-residential space in such buildings be offered for residential use only after a residential certificate of occupancy has been obtained for such space;
- Requires owners of loft buildings to achieve compliance with the standards of safety and fire protection, and take reasonable and necessary action to obtain certificate of occupancy as a class A multiple dwelling for the residential portion of the building;
- Authorizes the Loft Board to extend any compliance deadline which an owner is unable to meet for reasons beyond his or her control;
- Authorizes the Loft Board, upon good cause shown, to twice extend the time of compliance with the requirement to obtain a residential certificate of occupancy for periods not to exceed 12 months each;
- Allows owners of such buildings to apply to the Loft Board for an exemption of a building if the owner can show it would cause an unjustifiable hardship;
- Provides that these interim multiple dwellings become subject to the New York City Rent Stabilization Law after they are legalized; and
- Makes the Loft Law permanent.
Extending and expanding the Loft Law protections ensures the continued viability of the creative community which contributes so much to the economic and cultural vitality of New York City.