Glossary

Article 7-B

Article 7-B are the complicated architectural rules governing code compliance (mezzanines and windows, etc). You can read more about it on TenantNet.

Article 7-C

Article 7-C are the rules governing rent stabilization protections, sections 280 through 287

Certificate of Occupancy (C of O):

A document issued by the NYC Department of Buildings certifying a building’s compliance with applicable building codes and other laws, and indicating it to be in a condition suitable for a specific type of occupancy, which can include residential, commercial, manufacturing, or other, more specific uses.

Your Building may not currently have a C of O if it was built before 1938 and has not been legally changed since then. If it does have a C of O, it may allow for different uses on different floors of the building. Many residential lofts have a commercial C of O.

DOB:

The New York City Department of Buildings enforces regulations on construction of all buildings and maintenance/safety of buildings in New York City. The Loft Board is a sub agency of the DOB.

This agency can dramatically affect your life as a loft tenant. If you are living in an illegally-converted building and have not applied for Loft Law coverage, the DOB (and FDNY) will very likely see the conditions in your building as unsafe for residential use. If the conditions are severe enough, you will be vacated until repairs or improvements are made to your building that render it safe. Landlords have been known to call the DOB or FDNY to vacate tenants and then delay or refuse to do the work required to allow re-occupancy.

If, however, you have applied for Loft Law coverage and you have a Loft Board docket number, the DOB (and FDNY) will see the conditions of your building in a different light. It will be understood that the Loft Board is evaluating your application, so the necessary repairs and improvements will be made later under the jurisdiction of the Loft Board. Unless your building is at risk of collapse or is otherwise completely unsafe, the DOB will not vacate you.

Docket Number:

A number assigned to an application once it has been submitted and processed by the Loft Board. In the case of a coverage application, the docket number officially indicates that the status of the building will be determined in accordance with the Loft Law. That means the DOB and FDNY will in most cases not vacate tenants but instead defer to the Loft Board. The docket number also grants tenants rights under the Essential Services Law.

Essential Services Law:

New York State law guaranteeing certain building services to loft tenants with a Loft Board docket number. Those services include heat, water, electricity, security, and basic health and safety standards. Tenants with a docket number are allowed to sue their landlord in housing court to seek restoration if any of these services is interrupted. Keep in mind that these services are not guaranteed by any other agency to those living in illegally-converted residential buildings.

See our Building Maintenance page for more info.

FDNY:

The New York City Fire Department.

Horizontal Multiple Dwelling (HMD):

A Horizontal Multiple Dwelling (HMD) is a building which is connected horizontally for the purposes of IMD determination. So if there are passageways, pipes, ownership or administration in common, two building may be considered one for the purposes of the Loft Law. The full definition is in Rule 2-08(a)(1)(iii) http://72.0.151.116/nyc/rcny/Title29_2-08.asp

Housing Part (HP):

The Housing Part of the New York City Civil Court system hears certain limited cases involving residential tenants including rent disputes or “non-payment” cases, Housing Maintanence and Service complaints and “lockout” cases when a landlord illegally tries to keep tenants out of their apartments.

Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):

HPD is the City Agency that oversees residential housing conditions in the same way that the Department of Buildings (DOB) oversees general building conditions.

Industrial Business Zone (IBZ):

An area of commercially-zoned buildings set aside by the City of New York to preserve manufacturing. Buildings in most of the city’s IBZs are not eligible for coverage under the Loft Law. These three IBZs allow coverage: North Brooklyn, Greenpoint/Williamsburg, and portions of Long Island City. See our Loft Tenant Map. Excluded IBZs are shown in red. Or for more detailed maps, look on the NYCEDC website.

Interim Multiple Dwelling (IMD):

A loft building that meets the criteria set forth in the Loft Law and is covered by the law as an “Interim Multiple Dwelling” and is under the Loft Board’s jurisdiction. IMD status allows you to continue living in your building during the code compliance process even though it is not yet up to residential loft code standards. The Loft Board provides some protections for IMD tenants and is responsible for converting IMD’s to legal Multiple Dwellings in accordance with the Loft Law.

Loft Board:

The New York City Loft Board is two things:

  1. The arm of the city agency that oversees the city’s implementation of the Loft Law.
  2. A panel of nine members that pass Loft Board rules and vote on the recommendations of OATH judges on individual applications to the Loft Board.

As a whole, the Loft Board formulates and enforces regulations in accordance with the Loft Law. Translation: they take the language of the Loft Law passed by the New York State Legislature and come up with the rules that determine who can get covered and what happens for people who get covered. They then enforce those rules by deciding who gets coverage and overseeing the legalization of covered buildings.

At this time (Sept 2011), the Loft Board is still formulating regulations: the rules are only partly written. So tenants can still influence the rule-making process.

The Loft Board’s website is: “www.nyc.gov/html/loft/” You can contact them by phone: (212) 566-5663

Loft Law:

For those of you up for digesting legislative verbiage, The Loft Law’s full text is here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/loft/downloads/pdf/loft_law.pdf

For how this law affects you and how to navigate the process, folow the guides under FIRST and NEXT on the menu bar above.

Mayor’s Office of Operations (MOO):

In a nutshell, the Loft Board’s process of writing rules is that the Loft Board staff drafts a rule, the Board discusses it at public meetings, staff revises it, and then it goes to the Mayor’s Office of Operations (MOO) for final approval. Once it returns from there, the Loft Board holds a public hearing where the public is allowed to testify. But since MOO is a difficult stage to get through, it the opinion of NYCLT that we must influence the Loft Board through letters and our presence before the rules actually go to MOO.

Narrative Statement:

A mediation process (overseen by the Loft Board) that allows tenants to object to an owner’s plans for legalizing an IMD if the planned work would “unreasonably interfere” with the tenant’s use of his/her loft.

See our Narrative Statement page for more details.

Net Lessee:

A person or entity with a commercial lease that includes obligations to pay real estate taxes or other fees in addition to rent. Net Lessees may have the lease for an entire building but generally are not tenants/occupants of the building.

OATH:

Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. If your landlord does not voluntarily register your building as an IMD, then your application for Loft Law coverage will go to an OATH judge to prove your qualification for coverage. The judge will hear arguments and testimony from all sides and make a recommendation to the Loft Board as to whether your building, your unit, and/or you will be covered by the Loft Law and granted status as an IMD. The Loft Board will vote to accept or reject the recommendations of the OATH judge.

OATH also hears many other types of applications to the Loft Board.

Prime Tenant (Overtenant):

A tenant who sublets a unit or a portion of a unit to another person (see Subtenant). Prime tenants who live in a portion of their space will be able to apply for Loft Law coverage, but they will not be able to maintain their sublease arrangements with subtenants.

Rent Stabilization:

Rent stabilized tenants are protected from sharp increases in rent and have the right to renew their leases. The NYC Rent Guidelines Board sets the allowable percentage increase for renewal leases each year, historically between 3% and 5%. Rent stabilized tenants must follow rules to keep their status:

  1. Tenants must keep the space as their primary residence. You can’t move out and turn it into a work-only space.
  2. Roommates may only be charged their “proportionate share” of the rent, determined primarily by dividing the rent by the number of occupants.
  3. Subletting is allowed for two years out of a four-year period. The landlord can charge a “sublet allowance” during the sublet period, also set by the Rent Guidelines Board (10% in 2010). You may charge a subletter up to 10% more than your rent if your space is “furnished.”

Landlords are required to maintain rent stabilized buildings and provide certain essential services. The package of tenant rights is much better than those guaranteed by the Loft Board to IMD buildings.

You can find thorough and clear explanations of Rent Stabilization at the Met Council on Housing site.

Residential Unit:

A self-contained housing unit. For the purposes of the Loft Law, a residential unit must be at least 550 sq ft. in size, have its own entrance (a door to the street or to a building’s common hallway) and a window to the outside. Each unit should have its own plumbing (sink, toilet, shower, etc) but in some cases a common bathroom down the hall would suffice. Each unit should also have a kitchen, even a minimal one. Example: if you live in a giant loft divided into 4 separate bedrooms with workspaces, etc. but you share a common kitchen, common bath, and one entrance, that will likely be considered only 1 unit, not 4.

Subtenant:

A tenant who rents all or a portion of a unit from another tenant, as opposed to renting directly from the landlord (see Prime Tenant). Subtenants can apply for Loft Law coverage and will end up with a direct lease from the landlord if they are given coverage.

Vacate:

An emergency vacate order comes when a DOB inspector or the FDNY determines that there is “an imminent peril to life or safety” in a building. Tenants will be ordered to stay out of the building until the hazardous conditions have been removed. Common causes of a vacate order include no second means of egress, hazardous work without a permit, and insufficient fire sprinklers.

Warrant of Habitability:

The right to an apartment and building common areas that are:

  1. fit for human habitation
  2. fit for uses reasonably intended by the occupants
  3. free from conditions endangering or detrimental to life, health, or safety of occupants.

Examples of a breach of this warranty include the failure to provide heat or hot water on a regular basis, or the failure to rid an apartment of an insect infestation.

Window Period:

There are two periods of time, called Window Periods, that concern Loft Law applicants:

  • The occupancy window period is the time during which someone (not necessarily you) has to have lived in each unit applying for Loft Law coverage in order for it to qualify. To qualify under the 2010 Loft Law, each unit must have been occupied residentially for 12 consecutive months during the window period starting January 1, 2008 and ending December 31, 2009. At least three units in a building must fit this requirement for any unit in building to qualify for coverage.
  • Although the Loft Board has been processing tenant applications ever since the Loft Law was passed, there is formally an application window period which runs from the date all the rules have been finalized (est. March 2012 September 11, 2013) until the final deadline six months later – March 11, 2014.

Zoning Lot:

Most issues of coverage will involve zoning lots, which are different from tax lots. When you hear about block & lot numbers, which are what it shows in BIS, that’s the tax lot. A zoning lot may include multiple tax lots.

It’s the zoning lot that matters for whether windows are eligible (“lot-line windows” are probably not eligible), and whether multiple structures constitute a Horizontal Multiple Dwelling. As far as we know, it’s not on BIS and there’s no easy way to find out the zoning lot – you have to look at deeds and other legal papers. Look at our Researching Your Building page for some leads.