Governor Kathy Hochul has recently announced the enactment of a law that will significantly increase protections for loft residents. This bill makes it unlawful for any loft owner to interrupt, deny, or discontinue essential services or create an uninhabitable environment in a multiple dwelling unit or for any tenants covered by the existing Loft Law. Essential services covered under the bill include heat, hot water, electricity and gas. Uninhabitable conditions covered under the bill include leaks, mold, and a lack of building maintenance that creates dangerous conditions. If a landlord were to disrupt or fail to provide essential services or create an uninhabitable environment in an interim multiple dwelling unit, this new legislation allows the tenant affect to pursue a claim in New York City Housing Court.
The Multiple Dwelling Law enacted in 1982 established the Loft Law and created a new class of buildings in New York City known as interim multiple dwelling units or lofts. Lofts are often formal commercial and manufacturing loft spaces that are now being rented out as residence. The Loft Law also established the Loft Board. The Loft Board is responsible for coordinating the legal conversion of these loft space to residential units.
Over the past few years, loft residents have been experiencing an increase in harassment and neglect. Failure to provide basic and essential services, such as heat, hot water, electricity, and gas, as well as failure to maintain safe and appropriate living conditions are just a few examples of issues loft residents have been dealing with. They have not been able to consistently have their issues addressed in New York City Housing Court. New York City Housing Court is the place where virtually every other tenant living in the city is able to have their issues addressed. Additionally, as loft residents have not had access to New York City Housing Court, they also have not had access to the increasingly expanded protections New York State has enacted for tenants, such as universal access to free representation in New York City Housing Court.
As of recent, it has been made clear that in lieu of going to New York City Housing Court, loft tenants had to appear before the Loft Board to have their issues addresses. The Loft Board was not fully equipped to address issues such as landlord harassment and neglect. This new bill fixes that problem and further expands the protections for loft tenants.
By: Shayne Messing
Law Clerk, Moss & Tapia Law
If you want more information on the bill, please see below: