downtownexpress.com
Volume 20 Issue 3 | June 1 -7, 2007

Deal reached to extend Loft Law one year

The State Assembly, led by Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, reached an agreement with the Senate and governor Tuesday to extend the Loft Law by a year.

The Legislature hopes to get the bill to Gov. Eliot Spitzer before the current law expires this Thursday, May 31.

Once signed, the bill introduced by Glick, whose district includes Tribeca and Soho, would allow the law to be in effect for one more year.
Regulation of lofts began after Soho and Tribeca’s working artists converted commercial spaces into residential quarters. The lofts became a vital part of New York’s cultural scene, according to Glick. The Loft Law, which enforces proper conversions and protects tenants from sudden rent hikes and evictions, helps keep artists in Downtown, Glick said.

Glick and Chuck DeLaney, the tenant representative on the Loft Board who lives in a Financial District loft, feel tenants would be better protected if the law were extended by several years instead of the single year that has become the norm. “In the best of all worlds, we’d have a greater extension for the tenants,” Glick said in a telephone interview. The Republican-controlled Senate has long been reluctant to pass rent restrictions.

Glick and DeLaney both feel the Loft Law could do more.

Evictions for “personal use,” when landlords drive out tenants claiming they need the space themselves need to be addressed, according to DeLaney. He says “personal use” is too often used as a means to bring in new tenants able to pay higher rents.

Glick plans to introduce additional legislation in two weeks that will expand the protections given to loft tenants. Previous efforts to pass an updated law have been unsuccessful, but Glick hopes Governor Spitzer will be “more receptive to tenants’ needs than the previous administration.”

The Loft Board says 275 buildings are registered as lofts citywide. The Lower Manhattan Loft Tenants, a non-profit union of loft tenants, estimates about 3,500 units serve as lofts across all five boroughs. While the number of Tribeca and Soho homes subject to the Loft Law has dropped substantially, neither L.M.L.T., Glick or DeLaney were able to provide a definite number for Lower Manhattan.

Vito Lopez of Brooklyn, chairperson of the Assembly Housing Committee, co-sponsored the bill but feels it needs to be broadened more beyond Manhattan. “I will go on with my fight to expand the law’s protections to the thousands of loft tenants residing in New York City’s outer boroughs,” he said in a prepared statement.


— Joe Orovic





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