Narrative Statement Process

The narrative statement process is one place where tenants get to exercise some control over their building.

It is 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.

This is the Narrative Statement Process:

  1. After a building application is approved, and before the NSP, owners can file for an Alt-1 permit and are entitled to a *6% 3% rent increase (first milestone). At this time building plans don’t have to be complete but there are lots of prerequisites for the permit to be approved. Timeline depends on owners competency.
  2. The owner will submit their initial plans to the Loft Board, tenants will receive a copy of these plans. This timeline depends on the efficiency and competency of the landlord.
  3. Tenants will receive a copy of the Narrative Statement process which lists what work needs to be done to each unit, with an invitation to a conference (mediated by the Loft Board). It can take 45 days (or longer) for the conference to be scheduled after the initial plans are submitted, length of time often depends upon the involvement of lawyers and architects.
  4. Tenants, Owners, and Architects (both Tenant and Landlord Architects) should attend this mediated conference to review plans. At this time tenants can submit their alternative plans or voice their opinions. All tenants should go. If a tenant misses this conference it is almost impossible to have any say in the process further along.
  5. The Loft Board will review both plans. If necessary, the Loft Board will find a compromise. NYCLT can not say how long this process will take.
  6. After the Loft Board accepts a plan for the building, and the DOB then approves these plans, the tenants will pass the second milestone and a landlord is entitled to raise rents *8% 3%.

A note about “entitled to”, that a landlord can add a rent increase is different than that they will or must. Sometimes these increases do not happen immediately. Read the rent rules page to learn more about the milestone rent increases.

*6%-8%-6% increases were reduced to 3%-3%-4% with the passing of the 2013 Loft Law clean up bill. If a milestone was achieved before June 1, 2012 it is a 6/8/6 increases, if the milestone is achieved after June 1, 2012 it is a 3/3/4 increase. Read more about that on our Rent Rules page.

Translation: if you get through the Loft Law application process, your landlord will be required to bring your building and your loft up to residential building code standards under Article 7-B. Your landlord may propose that your workspace must be chopped in two, that your bedroom needs four doors and that a new staircase must go through the middle of your bathroom. Your landlord may insist that gold-plated doorknobs be installed, passing some of that “necessary” cost on to you. The narrative process allows you object to such plans. You can even prepare your own proposal for alterations if you hire (or are) an architect.

Never let your landlord short-circuit this process. If he asks you to sign something approving a plan for legalizing your building, do not sign it. Let the Loft Board bring you both into a conference where you will see all the drawings, etc. and have an opportunity to comment or suggest alternate plans.

The Loft Board will determine which plans will be the basis for work to be done. The DOB will not issue a permit for any work until the narrative statement process is finished.

NOTE: The Loft Board was previously considering a “No Work” option for buildings which may already be code compliant which would have allowed landlords to skip the NSP and possibly collect a windfall milestone rent increase all at once. The Loft Board determined this was a loophole and amended the rule to require even “No Work” buildings to go through the NSP, giving tenants a chance to weigh in and space out the milestones (as of January 2013).

How the Narrative Statement Process is supposed to happen by Arthur Atlas

Welcome to the fold. Now the fun really starts.

To some degree the process changes a little dependent on whether you are a 1982 loft tenant or a 2010 loft tenant. Either way you have to catch up on your rights and the building owner’s obligations. Spend time reading through this website for more info.

I will use the term “supposed” since many building owners simply ignore the rules and regulations, and since the City does little to enforce them, nothing happens.

Effectively though, the building owner is “supposed” to hire an architect or engineer to prepare plans for the legalization of the building. This means that someone from the architects or engineers office will be setting up an appointment to visit your loft, take measurements and survey the work required. When and if this person shows up, you want to see their credentials to make sure they are who they say and you want to prohibit them from taking photos/videos of your space. You also want to limit the number of visitors to an amount that is manageable for you to keep an eye on. Paranoid you say? You’d be amazed at the tricks and games that have been played over the years.

The architect/engineer is “supposed” to file the prepared plans and applications with the NYC Department of Buildings to bring the building, not just your space, up to Building Code standards. Within 15 days of filing with the DOB the building owner/architect/engineer is “supposed” to send a copy of the plans to the NYC Loft Board and copies of a written description of the proposed work (a Narrative Statement) to the Loft Board and each affected tenant.

At some point after that (“supposed” to be within 30 days) the Loft Board will schedule a conference for both the building owner and tenants and their representatives to discuss the alternatives toward legalization. You should have gathered the other IMD tenants in the building and met with your own knowledgeable professionals to discuss your legalization, prior to the Conference. You absolutely must attend all Narrative Statement Conferences, if they discuss your unit and you are not present you will have waived your rights to further comment.

That is the short and nasty version of what will happen. I’m attaching something that I’ve distributed in the past (slightly skewed by the scanner) that you might find useful and informative. Also included is info about how to look up the DOB records for your building. Continue to check the NYCLT Google group for info.

NYCLT Note: you might want to also read Research Your Building for more info about using the DOB BIS records