Loft Law Survives

Loft tenants won a reprieve in early August when the state Legislature renewed the law keeping them under rent regulations.

The law, which protects about 10,000 tenants in 4,000 units—mostly in lower Manhattan, with some in Brooklyn and Queens—expired on June 30. Republican Governor George Pataki and State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno threatened to let it die, trying to win concessions on other issues from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. But it was renewed largely intact as part of the $74 billion budget eventually worked out after Bruno linked it to a bill extending Quickdraw video gambling.

The renewed law expires March 31, 2001.

In place since 1982, the law covers tenants in residential loft spaces in commercial buildings. Under the law, owners of these buildings are barred from collecting rent increases or evicting their tenants until the building is brought up to city Buildings Department standards for such things as fire safety. Once it is ready for a certificate of occupancy, the owner can collect rent increases, phasing in a repayment of the costs of bringing the buildings up to code.

The law also requires owners to provide basic services to loft tenants, and limits rent increases for tenants renewing their leases.