Amendments to Loft Board Rules
Rule status: Adopted
Agency: LOFT BOARD
Effective date: April 1, 2023
Proposed Rule Full Text
Adopted Rule Full Text
Adopted rule summary:
The New York City Loft Board is adopting rules to comply with amendments to the Loft Law and to streamline and simplify the Loft Board’s procedures.
Comments are now closed.
Online comments: 18
“Section 18, The section codifies the new criteria for Article 7-C coverage contained in § 281(6) of the Loft Law. The section eliminates the window requirement, eliminates the basement exclusion and limits the inherently incompatible use exclusion to uses in Use Group 18. ”
These restrictions should not be removed without serious thought. In the case of an extreme weather event and flooding the height of the ceilings will determine a basements tenant’s timeline for escape. Similarly access to windows as emergency exits may mean the difference between life and death.
During major flooding every second counts. Increasing the amount of people that will need to be rescued, evacuated or rehoused will also increase strain on emergency services in a crisis event.
Regarding Section #12 Heating requirements.Comment attachment
Rules in place are in need of stricter inspections at the time of plan creation and implementation. In my situation proposed plans were reviewed with no
in-depth statement of the actual equipment to be used.
The results are non residential heaters with little use and actual existing central heating system ignored.
My name is Tom Cayler.
I live at 517-525 West 45th in Hell’s Kitchen.
To my mind there are two parts to the Rules.
1- The rules themselves . . . The Policy.
2- And, then, how they are applied . . . The Practice.
And whether that “Practice” is equitable or just a shrug.
For instance the Rules state that: [doc 1] “It is illegal to knowingly or negligently submit any document to the Department that contains a material false statement . . . and that Department employees must: immediately report concerns of unethical or unlawful behavior by members of the public to the NYC Department of Investigations . . .”
But in our case, during the Narrative Statement Conferencing Process, the landlord filed a false PW-1 [doc 2] stating that there were no tenants living in the building to be altered.
That meant that the landlord was not required to file a Tenant Protection Plan or maintain services or egress.
Despite this Rule stating that the filing of False Documents w/ the DoB is a crime, and that DoB employees are required to report crimes to the Department of Investigations . . .
We were told that a False PW-1 was no big deal, the landlord would be required to amend it and that a Tenant Protection Plan would be filed.
In other words: the LB and DoB simply shrugged.
Then the Landlord filed a false ZD-1 [doc 3] which fraudulently reported the height of the building in order to circumvent the height restrictions in the Clinton Special District and add two floors of Freemarket Units.
When the tenants’ architect pointed this out in a narrative conference meeting, we were told that since the building’s height had never been measured, it was just an “Honest” mistake on the landlord’s part.
A year later, a new ZD-1 [doc 4] was filed w/ the DoB for the wrong building!
That ZD-1 is still part of the documents filed for legalization.
Oh well . . . shrug.
And then, this past May, ’22, the Landlord filed Additional Information [doc 5] requesting that the Street Tree requirement be waived because the only work that had taken place in the buildings was to legalize the previously existing Loft Unit.
This is false.
The Landlord added 10 Freemarket Units by converting previous Commercial spaces into residential units.
Spaces that had never been registered as loft units.
And frankly, I don’t blame the Landlord for filing, once again, a False Document.
Why shouldn’t they?
Experience tells them that even if catch for a False Filing, all they’ll get is a Shrug.
As part of the legalization process, the Landlord had to install permanent affordable housing because of a finding of Harassment in 2012.
In July of 2020, HPD Defaulted the landlord for never having complied with the HPD agreement to legalize those units.
Yet, DoB continues to issue TCOs for the very units which are out of compliance! A new TCO was just issued Nov. 18, 2022 despite HPD and the LB inspecting the same units this past October to determine that the required work had, in fact, not been done.
TCOs for non-compliant units? Shrug.
So, as you adopt these new rules, please remember: They may be the Policy, but they won’t necessarily be the Practice.
I have the documents proving what I have said which I’ll leave for your perusal, but, and again, frankly . . . I don’t expect anything other than a Shrug.Comment attachment
Regarding section 4 rules around the narrative statement process. I am a loft tenant in a building with over 100 lofts, most of which were occupied at the time of the narrative conferences. Leading up to the process it was very hard to get good information (i.e. official copies of the proposed plans). During the process, time slots were overbooked and tenants were given short shrift to discuss issues with the layouts and plans for individual spaces and for the public spaces of the building that would ultimately effect our continued use of the building as live/work space. At the time, the meetings were run by the Loft Board lawyer, who was clearly aligned with the building owners and not willing to properly hear the concerns of the tenants. We were given strict limitations on what elements of legalization we could discuss, clearly just to accelerate the process for the owner/ developers. As a result, many issues went unresolved and resulted in mistakes during legalization that slowed progress and created huge areas of contention between landlord and tenant.
For example, we were not allowed to discuss the plan to replace the windows and as a result, the owner replaced all the windows with a design that reduced natural airflow and the ability for tenants to exhaust air from our spaces.
Also, most loft tenants use their spaces for creative industries and rely on good access to a freight elevator. In our building, the owner removed the largest freight elevator and converted the only remaining one to a Passenger/ freight combo that is much smaller. This has become a huge limitation for loft tenants who work with large materials, and because of the LB lawyer’s rules in the Narrative Conferences, we (tenants) were not allowed to discuss this drastic alteration to our building.
The NS conferences should not be rushed, as this is the forum where many concerns that will effect the efficient legalization of the building and the changes that tenants will have to live and work with are potentially decided.
Perhaps additional time given to this process could be prorated into the time of compliance for building owners, so there is not so much pressure to rush through this phase of the Loft Law process.
Hello all, I’m not certain if this is the right place to discuss this. I live in an 1,850 square foot loft. The landlord is allowing tenants only one roommate They tell us this is based on current housing law. Historically, we did not have a limit on how many roommates we were permitted. This is absolutely ridiculous. Most of us live in very large spaces that can easily accommodate more than one roommate.
Most importantly, landlords are using this as a cudgel to make it difficult for us to pay rent so we can not afford our homes. Further, with the housing shortage in NYC, allowing only 2 people to share 1,800 sq feet exacerbates the problem. Everyone in my building had to kick tenants out. Many of us have spent money to build out bedrooms, only to not be allowed to use them. Also, giant spaces use loads of electricity to heat/cool, so only 2 people is terrible for the environment. I know there are MANY buildings where the landlord pulled the same shenanigans, resulting in hundreds of people to losing their homes.
This is not okay.
I understand the law was created to prevent overcrowding in tenements, however, this is not an overcrowding situation.
Respectfully, I ask the board to please look into this.
Regarding room mates- it appears there is nothing in the LB rules regarding this-(probably there should be) likely because this is State Law (and the rule should re iterate that it is such. What should be in the rules is a notice that Applicants have read the LB rules and that they accept the rules in order to make the application. That should include a statement about how many room mates one has among other questions to qualify. The applicant should also sign under oath that all statements are true and that false statements will disqualify their application, now and in the future.
Further all rent stabilized tenants should also be informed on the application that the benefits of their protections therein requested under state law are a publicly afforded benefit and can only be afforded to applicants who are truthful in their statements. Regarding the above, If the tenant is concerned that they have too large of a space to afford, they could obviously offer back some of the space for a lower rent agreement if they are the protected occupant.
I lived in a loft building a couple years back and was surprised to hear that other tenants were not paying their rent, and hadn’t been for many years on end, due to a loophole in the Loft Law — despite their being able quite well to afford it. It doesn’t seem fair to me that people are able to use what was meant to be a bridge to full housing, as a way to weasel out of paying their fair share. This is both day-to-day residents alike, as well as prominent public figures who almost certainly can afford it…It is one thing to take this out on huge corporate building owners and proprieters; it is another when the landlord is a single family or single person operator and that is their main means of living. Please look to amend this law such that there is no exception or loophole for rent subversion, and rather advance an equitable way forward to ensure safe, affordable housing for all while also supporting the small family businesses whose livelihood depend on it.
I would ask that there be an adequate time for the tenants and landlord to negotiate the plans for legalization. In our case the landlord tried to rush through with plans to radically remodel our place. These elaborate plans were unnecessary and completely disruptive. It would be impossible for us to live here while such extensive work was being done. Our architect submitted alternate plans which were far less disruptive to our lives and had approval from the city to go forward with them yet the landlord continues to fight the plans.
I have 27–5’x8′ windows in my place! and because 2/3 of these windows are lot line windows onto residential back yards the landlord is insisting on mechanical ventilation. This is noisy, expensive and unnecessary. Our architect Alexandr Neratoff, was able to have my space approved without the mechanical ventilation as obviously there is no reason for it. Alternately my neighbor has an interior office space and needs mechanical ventilation and the landlord, Frank Eisenberg, will not agree to it.
The last set of plans I was asked to sign off on included changes that were never in contention in the first place. One of my already completely legal bedrooms was changed into an alcove…why?
We are in the alternate plans stage. Our proposed plans are approved and cheaper and easier to implement yet the landlord keeps fighting us.
Why is he doing this. Perhaps he means to harass us in the reconstruction phase. Nothing makes sense.
I am concerned that there isn’t any kind of oversight for the reconstruction process. There is no mediator to step in when things aren’t right. The landlord has unlimited potential to harass us through reconstruction.
Thank you for allowing my comment. I can not testify in person today unfortunately.
I live 10 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn.
For years since our gas being turned off (July 2019), tenants have been living with only hot plates, no ovens and temporary heaters that do not get out spaces to legal levels, in fact they are well below. Nothing has happened and all the promises of the previous landlord(s) have not been honored with regards to being able to cook again and having enough heat to keep warm.
One of the issues is that the temporary units installed are extremely expensive to operate, they are completely inefficient. One of the owners acknowledges this at the loft board court and promised in the summer of 2019 that it would be remedied and he would pay the coned bills that would be unfair until permanent heat was installed. That never happened, we now have a new owner and once again nothing. This units cost about $30 per day per unit to run and the lofts with 2-4 units can’t afford to run them.
We need stricter enforcement. Its harassment by the owner and it’s only working to the advantage of the owner to drive out tenants. I keep asking myself how the owners get away with this year after year, violations do nothing and it’s the tenants that suffer. It unbearable some days, days where you can’t function because you’re just too cold.
I have again written to the loft boarding begging their assistance. The owners have ignored offering any solutions.
Dear Loft Board,
I have called 151 Kent Ave home since 2006. I have lived in the same loft with my roommate Greg Liburd longer than I’ve lived with my mother as a child. I have watched neighbors’ kids flying kites on our building roof head off to college more than a decade later.
And as of Sunday 12/4/22, I now have a newborn baby of my own who I’m looking forward to raising at 151 Kent Ave.
At the same time, I’ve seen our building deteriorate with little concern for the tenants health, safety or rights. The freight elevator which was functional when I rented my unit hasn’t worked in 15+ years, serving a grave inconvenience for those with kids, disabilities or elderly parents who can’t visit them in New York. The ceilings drip when it rains outside. As a result, there is black residue on the building’s wooden structure in common areas and tenant lofts—we have still to determine if this is black mold or otherwise harmful.
Because of the lack of maintenance, security or any other proactive action on account of the landlords, our only pathway to the building has become a favored place for drug users to shoot illicit IV drugs and use the bathroom in broad daylight on a daily basis. This means every time you enter or leave the building, your path may be blocked by someone who is either actively using drugs, passed out on the ground, or fighting with a tenant who is trying to persuade them to leave.
While we always knew neglect or harassment could come to a head, I have newfound concern about:
– being passively pushed out by unsafe conditions like air quality or a parking lot littered with used drug needles
– actively pushed out by construction work which compromises quality of life as we’ve seen in neighboring Loft Law buildings
– a new mother with a baby coming home from the neo-natal ICU in the next week
– a working artist dependent on my live/work loft space for my livelihood
– a person who has contributed to the growth of a now economically burgeoning neighborhood over the span of decades
I am asking you to please protect individuals and our community while supporting the growth of our city.
These are NOT mutually exclusive outcomes, and Loft Law tenants are simply asking for you to protect our rights and our homes.
Please see attached Word Doc. Thank you.Comment attachment
I was a loft tenant several years ago paying my rent and then I came to find out that several other tenants were not paying rent and hadn’t been for a long time due to a loop hole/provision in the loft law. I asked them how they knew about it and they told me an attorney had alerted them. A few days later the same attorney approached me encouraging me to take the necessary steps so that I could withhold rent as well. Myself and these other tenants are all financially stable with the ability to pay rent. I felt very uneasy about ripping off my landlord and sunsequently moved out. I don’t think it’s the intent of the loft law to encourage tenants to withold rent, but apparantly the process for an owner to make a building compliant is so complex and lengthy that it’s nearly impossible. The loft law has bid tenants against owners when their intent was to make industrial buildings safe for residential use. How many buildings have been able to comply with the loft law requirments in the years since it’s inception? I don’t think it’s many. Where are the statistics showing it’s a successful program worthy of continuing? This law only seems to benefit the attorneys. The owners are getting screwed and the tenants continue to reside in “unsafe” buildings. Something needs to change.
Paul J Gagnon
My name is Paul Gagnon and I live in Brooklyn at 538 Johnson Ave. I’ve lived there for almost 15 years now because of loft law, which we applied for all the way back in 2012. So when we were finally given the green light to move forward after the amendments passed in 2019, we had 11 very happy apartments excited that all their hard work and advocacy trips had paid off! However since then, 6 units have been forced out and are already being converted into commercial spaces. The owner has now shifted focus to redoubling his efforts to force out the remaining 5 units.
Every protected unit is currently being served notices to quit, notices to cure, notices of lease termination, temporary restraining orders, and whatever else the owner can think of to force us to pay for legal representation, a tactic that’s so far been extremely effective for him.
An ex-neighbor told me he took off work for a court date only to have the judge dismiss the case in 5 minutes, and yet it still cost him the bulk of his retainer just to get to that point. Then the very next week he was served with a slightly modified version of the same suit, and he was back to square one. So he felt like he had to leave, he realized it was basically death by a thousand cuts and he already couldn’t afford it.
And now the owner is continuing this tactic with the remaining apartments. He’s already sent various notices to quit and cure and notices of termination, and then just this week a judge rejected a motion for a TRO from the owner, and they’ve already redrafted it to bring back before the judge tomorrow, so I have no doubt this cycle will continue at our expense. I’m scared and I’m angry, and I feel helpless against the owner’s deep pockets and this loophole he’s exploiting.
My roommates and I are lucky we have a good lawyer and we’re fighting as best we can, but we also know that without additional attention and support from the loft board our building owner will continue to exploit this “pay to play” approach to removing tenants. The real estate market has been very restrictive for freelancers and artists like myself, and loft law helped us retain our housing when staying in NY probably wouldn’t even be financially possible if we had to move. This financial vulnerability has not gone unnoticed, in fact it seems to be the very thing the owner seeks to exploit.
I know every concern brought before you is something that’s deeply important to the tenants presenting them, and I know we’re not the only ones in our situation. I hope it’s recognized that at the moment any of us are vulnerable to this type of predatory legal action, and when something works this well, I’m sure word spreads quickly.
Thank you for your time.
I am a contractor who was engaged to do work in an imd building. This has been a very frustrating and frankly sad experience. Every attempt to accomplish a task is met with a new kink in the process which delays the work getting accomplished. The procedural waiting times are extremely strung out- I have to reschedule my team all the time- it’s usually a tenant does not allow access or puts in a complaint that is not real and obviously a delay tactic- most of these tenants I believe are operating on the advice of their lawyer with the goal of extending (for years) the non payment of rent-
I can understand how a new or empty building could do all the work to get a c o in 36 months – but an occupied building with multiple tenants and different agendas- it’s crazy
But what it really is, is political fantasy. A law and the rules made up by people who are not builders or architects with actual on the job experience but rather with political interests and vote pandering,
We have lived in our loft apartment in lower Manhattan for over 26 years, and filed our application for Loft Law coverage almost 5 years ago. Our application for a determination as to whether we are entitled to Loft Law coverage is still pending. We have been left without recourse against the landlord’s harassment because there is no effective forum or mechanism available that actually gives relief to tenants who are in the situation of living in what is designated in the City’s records as a commercial building, yet living there residentially while their rights are determined. In short, there is a complete disconnection between the existing laws and the available means for enforcement and relief under them.
We ask that the Loft Board’s Rules be amended to allow the Loft Board to hear these claims, or that it expressly state, very clearly for the courts exactly the rights, protections and minimum housing standards that apply to tenants who have received a docket number from the Loft Board (but who cannot yet say they live in an Interim Multiple Dwelling and who do not have a lease that specifies residential use).
The existing Multiple Dwelling Law section 282-a provides that: “Where any occupant has filed an application for coverage pursuant to this article and has received a docket number from the loft board, it shall be unlawful for an owner to cause or intend to cause such occupant to vacate, surrender or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy, due to repeated interruptions or discontinuances of essential services, or an interruption or discontinuance of an essential service for an extended duration or of such significance as to substantially impair habitability of such unit, at any time before the loft board has made a final determination, including appeals, to approve or deny such application. * * * In addition to any other remedies provided in this article for failure to be in compliance, in article eight of this chapter, or in the regulations promulgated by the loft board, an occupant who has filed an application with the loft board for coverage under this article may commence an action or proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction, which notwithstanding any other provision of law shall include the housing part of the New York city civil court, to enforce the provisions of this section.”
Most unfortunately, our experience has shown that even though this is the law, the building owner has freely engaged in multiple and severe cases of harassment, but because our case is still being adjudicated in OATH, we have been in an extended state of limbo in which there is no forum for us, no place for us to turn for enforcement of the rule against harassment of tenants; we have been left stranded with no remedies. We have continually experienced harassment from the building owner. We have attempted to obtain relief from Civil Housing Court and Supreme Court, with very little success, and at great expense.
During the pendency of our application, our landlord has continuously harassed us, including cutting off our gas service for years, falsely filing Tenant Protection Plans in connection with gas restoration stating that there are no residential tenants, removing our front door, changing the locks without prior notice, installing noisy tenants in neighboring commercial spaces with the expressly stated purpose of disturbing our use of our apartment, and making complaints to City agencies in an attempt to obtain enforcement actions against our residential apartment of the commercial regulations that currently apply to our building, which is currently still designated as a manufacturing building.
While the text of the law states that once we receive a Docket Number we can go to the Housing Part of the NYC Civil Court, in reality this is not true. We do not have a residential lease. The Housing Court enforces housing standards in residential landlord/tenant cases and does not view us as residential until the Loft Board says we are. The Housing Court has a binary view of its cases: either they go to the residential part or the commercial part. The housing court actually would not even accept the filing of our papers, and we were told that this was for the Loft Board to hear. In the Supreme Court, without an express statement in the law as to what would be considered an “essential service” in a commercial space with a commercial lease being residentially inhabited without a current IMD determination, the court had problems determining what rights we actually had as tenants and with regard to housing standards that it could enforce against the landlord. The Supreme Court stayed the case pending the Loft Board’s determination of our application, again leaving us without any actual protection or relief from the landlord’s harassment. This is not what Multiple Dwelling Law 282-a intended.
I request that the Loft Board’s Rules be changed to include provisions aimed at bridging the disconnection between the clear intention of the laws that have been enacted to protect tenants with pending applications and their ability to obtain relief. I ask that the Loft Board’s rules need to expressly provide a forum to allow the Loft Board to hear these harassment complaints. The Loft Board Rules also need to include a very clear and express statement for the courts to rely upon as to what an “essential service” is with regard to a commercial unit being inhabited residentially (and often without a residential lease), which unit has not yet been determined to be an interim multiple dwelling, so that the courts can know exactly what rights are afforded to a tenant who has obtained a docket number and then apply those standards and enforce them in the courts.
Also, the Housing Court’s rules should have a requirement that harassment cases brought under Multiple Dwelling Law section 282-a by tenants who have obtained a Loft Board docket number must be heard in the residential landlord/tenant part of the court.
Without these amendments, for residential tenants who have received a docket number and are awaiting final determination of their Loft Board coverage applications, Multiple Dwelling Law §282-a is just a meaningless piece of paper, which does nothing to actually provide relief.
Dear Loft Board,
My late mother was born in Ridgewood, Queens and 151 Kent has allowed me to call New York home in the same proud and participatory way that she did. I have lived in this space with my roommate longer than anyone in my life. The entire time this has been a true artist loft, from the creation of artworks in every medium to serving as a makeshift station for handmade front-line worker PPE during the pandemic.
Like many loft buildings, ours dates back over a century, understandably requiring basic maintenance and repairs to remain livable and accessible. Leaky hallway ceilings, ice that dangerously cascades from the roof in winter, an inoperable freight elevator, air quality concerns over mold, safe driveway access, and many other crucial issues with this property should be table stakes for protecting its Loft Law occupants.
I’ve gone through numerous legal battles over the years to remain in this building because living in and contributing to this community is fighting for. I ask that the Loft Board serve and defend our tenant rights for the same reason.
When a building is falling “Out of Compliance” because of years of LL neglect or tenant harassment by a predatory landlord,
the “Out of Compliance” verdict NEEDS to stick NOT to the landlord, but to the building – like a lien.
A building should not just fall back into compliance just with a simple change of ownership!
A building’s neglect or disarray doesn’t go away with a signature on a piece of paper!
It is the only legal theory that is fair to ALL(!) parties involved!
1. To the Tenants, that lived through years of harassment or neglect and are stuck in a dilapidated building.
to defend themselves against those horrible landlords and to remedy their undesirable situation tenants rely on the landlord not being allowed to collect rent to afford hiring a lawyer!
2. To a New Owner:
“Out of Compliance” sticking to the building, is FAIR to a Buyer/New Owner, because it is a liability like a lien and therefore the current owner’s asking price will have to be lower and a new owner will be able to acquire the building for less!
3. To the Landlord letting a building fall “Out of Compliance”, having to re-sell the building for less, is a FAIR punishment for years of neglect/harassment.
4. It also avoids transfer by owners to other faceless LLCS that may change hands in name only, and holds them accountable.
Furthermore, if a building is without a CofO and is “out of compliance”, it should only get back “into compliance” when the building gets its Final CofO !
David R. Brody, Esq.
Please see my response/comments in the attached letter.Comment attachment