Higher rents? Safer buildings? Find out how NYC’s new loft law affects you

Your loft is big. But is it legal? Photo by Emily Paup.

You can’t help the nagging feeling that something is wrong with your new digs. Maybe it’s the contant draft from the huge windows or the lead paint flakes dropping from the 15-foot ceiling. Welcome to loft living in Brooklyn, an unregulated jungle of non-residential zoning and tenant mistreatment. Before the 2010 Loft Law was passed, lofts existed in a legal grey area: Zoned for commercial use but filling up with residential units, where tenants had few avenues for demanding building improvements and little protection from arbitrary and illegal rent hikes or eviction.

The law is meant to protect loft tenants and bring commercial buildings up to residential code. If you’re a loft resident, you’ll get the opportunity to find out what the law really means to you on Tuesday night at a Panel on the State of the Loft Law in Bushwick. For instance, applying for coverage under the Loft Law allows landlords to raise the rent, but it also requires they bring buildings up to code while also giving tenants coverage under rent stabilization laws. And that’s what you can find out about at Tuesday’s meeting.

The discussion, to be held in Our Lady of Pompeii’s community room and co-sponsored by a number of tenant and neighborhood associations, will feature members of the New York City Loft Board and the Department of Buildings.  State assemblyman Vito Lopez and City Councilman Stephen Levin are also slated to appear.

Gordon Woodhull, an organizer with the New York City Loft Tenants, recommended that anyone who wants to know more about the law or would like to see it improved to come to the meeting.

“The law’s not perfect,” he said. “It has sizable rent increases built in and it doesn’t protect everyone. So we are gathering in support of the law but also to ask tough questions of the panel and to build momentum to get changes made at the city and state level.”

Panel on the State of the Loft Law, Tuesday April 24, 7 PM, Our Lady of Pompeii Community Room, 225 Seigel Street


    • Hardly. Considering tenants that live in industrial lofts currently have zero rights, as their dwellings are illegal, landlords already have a pretty free hand to do what they like. And developers barely even factor into this, because this law covers buildings that existed as commercial property previously. It’s highly doubtful that tenants right’s groups would back a law that hurts the people they advocate for, no matter how thick the veil.

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