Remove the Deadline • Fix the Loft Law


REMOVE the March 11, 2014 deadline

REMOVE exclusionary provisions:
windows, Basements, Incompatible Use

CREATE affordable Housing

Bring more buildings up to Fire & Safety Standards

LMLT and NYCLT are working together to advocate for changes to the Loft Law in 2014.

Lower Manhattan Loft Tenants (LMLT) was founded in 1978 to advocate for the rights of loft tenants and lobbied successfully for the 1982 Loft Law.

NYCLT was founded in 2010 to represent tenants covered under the 2010 expansion of the Loft Law and lobbied successfully for the 2013 “Clean Up the Loft Law” bill.

In sum, the application deadline is bad policy and will only serve to thwart the remedial intent of the Loft Law.

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Several changes are needed to prevent an unfair result from the 2010 expansion of the Loft Law that will cause the loss of affordable housing units. The most pressing is the March 11, 2014 deadline that will block further applications for building coverage and tenant protection under the Loft Law. 

Background: In June 2010, the legislature passed not one but actually two contradictory bills to amend the Loft Law.  Positively, in addition to making the law permanent, the law was expanded to cover additional converted buildings that had three or more residential units during a 2008 and 2009 “window period.” As with the original Loft Law, the remedial intent of the law is to bring converted buildings up to residential fire and safety codes.

Not so positively, the first bill, which extended coverage to a newer group of loft tenants, received vigorous opposition at the last minute from the Bloomberg Administration, which had not had the legislation on its radar.  The Mayor’s objection was focused on a misguided and misinformed concern regarding its possible effect on Bloomberg’s zoning changes and his alleged concern over the preservation of manufacturing.  Intensive city lobbying led then-Governor Paterson to announce he would veto the bill unless changes demanded by the Mayor were made.  These changes, designed to limit the number of already-occupied residential units/buildings that would be covered, were hastily negotiated and the second bill was passed at the end of the 2010 session.

The provisions that limit Loft Law coverage include, most notably, a deadline for coverage applications (MDL 282-A) “six months after the date” that the Loft Board finished adopting all rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of the 2010 law.  The six-month clock was set last September, and the deadline is March 11, 2014.

Other exclusionary provisions include a denial of coverage to units based on factors relating to windows and basements.  Residential buildings that fail an “inherent incompatibility” test based on certain Use Groups in the NYC Zoning Resolution.  Most of these provisions were expressly designed to limit the number of residential units provided protection under the expanded Loft Law, although none of these exclusions was imposed in the original 1982 Loft Law

Loft tenants take the position that most of these exclusions serve no public purpose and will cause current tenants to lose their affordable homes.  Spaces vacated by current tenants, who in many cases improved the raw space they rented, will simply be leased at ever higher rates to new tenants.  And, without the requirements of the Loft Law, most owners will not bring these buildings up to the required fire and safety standards.  It won’t stop owners who want to rent space illegally from doing so. 

The most pressing issue is to urge the state legislature to repeal the March 11 deadline.  The original Loft Law contained no such provision, and the deadline will only reduce the universe of units and buildings eligible for protection under the Loft Law.  If units have already been converted to residential use, it makes sense to allow them to enter the Law’s remedial program to bring them up to code without imposing an artificial deadline. A deadline simply grants landlords the license to create additional illegally converted buildings, ignore the legalization requirements, and evade the Loft Law.

In terms of public policy, to foster fire safety in these buildings (and adjoining buildings), it makes far more sense to allow eligible buildings to enter the Loft Law program with no time limit.  The Loft Law is, after all, remedial legislation that is designed to protect both landlords and tenants by allowing buildings where the owner created an illegal multiple dwelling to come into code compliance while permitting the owner to legally collect rent.  Putting a time limit on entering a remedial program makes no sense and is likely to lead to a number of lawsuits challenging the provision.