Clean-up Bill Passes!

These past two weeks have seen the culmination of more than a year’s hard work by volunteers of NYCLT.

Loft Tenants have been working with local politicians, making trips to Albany, writing letters and making phone calls to improve the 2010 Loft Law.

The Loft Law Clean-up Bill (A3354/S2320) passed the New York State Senate and Assembly, and Governor Cuomo signed it into law on Thursday, January 31st 2013.

 

 

 

 

NYCLT and the Loft Tenant community thank Assemblyman Vito Lopez for drafting the original bill, Senator Marty Golden for sponsoring it in the Senate, Assemblyman Keith Wright for sponsoring it in the Assembly, and all the representatives in the Senate and Assembly for voting it through!

The “Clean Up the Loft Law” changes in A3354/S2320 are:

  • the milestone increases are reduced to 3%-3%-4% (from 6%-8%-6%)
  • the minimum size for an eligible loft is reduced to 400 sq feet (from 550);
  • any claim that a building presents an Incompatible Use issue must maintain it continued through the date of application

Although we still have to see how this will be implemented in Loft Board rules and interpreted by lawyers, our understanding is that the 3%-3%-4% milestone increases apply retroactively to June 1, 2012, meaning that if you have taken any increases since then, they should be lowered.

Other features of the amended law:

  • The Loft Board is given the authority to exempt categories of units and buildings from Incompatible Use determinations, retroactively to June 21, 2010.
  • Units which become eligible solely by the new changes have extended deadlines for compliance and for landlord hardship claims.
  • Buildings that are Interim Multiple Dwellings under the old Loft Law (§281.1-4) are exempt from Incompatible Use claims.
  • The minimum size and Incompatible Use changes are applied retroactively to June 1, 2012.

There is one catch: these changes do have a sunset attached to them, meaning that we need to stay involved in order to make sure the changes get extended when the state legislature revisits the law in 2015. So you need to register to vote (in almost all NYC districts, this means registering Democrat or your vote doesn’t matter) and make sure that your local representatives are Loft Law friendly!

Report from Albany

Many thanks to all who took the trip to Albany. And to all those who put it together:

McDavid, Kathleen, + Lee for scheduling meetings; Eve for managing the trip list, the 450 print outs and putting the days agenda together; Simon + Eve for assembling and editing the letters for the PR kits and renting the vans; Gordon + Eve for writing the NYCLT introduction and Loft Law “fix-it” list; Rachel for helping arrange some last-minute meetings; Eliza for the gorgeous poster design; Eve + Eliza for designing and ordering buttons and magnets with Jett’s great NYCLT logo; Eliza, Andrea + Simon for buying all the materials; Andrea, Eliza, Eve and Simon for poster production and late-night PR kit assembly — creating really sharp and well-designed presentations so the pols won’t forget about us. And McDavid, Kirsten, Simon and Eliza for baking those awesome cookies that will remind jaded legislators of who we are. + thanks to all the folks who sent letters!

We made an impression.

There were official meetings with about 17 legislators, divided in two categories. One set is firmly on our team (Dems from the Assembly + the Senate): we got strategic advice and promises of support from them. The other set is more important (Republicans): they are indifferent or opposed to the Loft Law. I am sure they are used to hearing arguments from other legislators, but sitting down with actual Loft Tenants and hearing actual real-life stories made a difference: we got some indications of qualified support, curiosity, or at least neutrality. We left the remaining press kits with other Republicans on the Senate Committee on Housing — those are the folks we really need to convince!

A good trip. We were polite, respectful, stayed on message, kept all of our appointments, and even wrangled a few extra meetings.

Vito Lopez will sponsor our “Clean Up” bill and try to get it out of committee (this is the first step to getting a bill passed). In order to do that Vito’s strategy is to hold an event with Loft Tenants, the Senate Republican sponsor of our bill and the Mayor’s office. We will need to get 400 people at this meeting, so stay tuned for an announcement of the time and place!

NYCLT is now on the radar in Albany, but we will need to do this many times (next trip in April!) to keep the Loft Law from sinking into the swamp of bills, proposals and lobbying.

We were told that the Real Estate lobby groups are all over Albany, focusing their energy on the Senate to block pro-tenants bills. We are the only ones telling the other side of the story.

Let’s keep it up!