Residential Protections Issued for Very, Very Lucky Commercial Building Dwellers

Artists are real estate rental geniuses. They always find fabulous deals and settle into cheap but very cool living spaces years before the rest of us realize that where they're living is the best bargain in town and subsequently ruin it with popular demand. Well, this time, artists and anyone else who has settled into a spacious and affordable -- though not zoned residential -- loft can have their bargain and legal protection, too.

The New York Times reports:

Under a sweeping law passed by the State Legislature, hundreds of former factory buildings and warehouses across New York City...can become legal residential lofts. It is the first expansion of the loft laws in more than two decades and extends the classic Cinderella renter's story far beyond Lower Manhattan, where most of the city's legal lofts had been concentrated, into latter-day SoHos like Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Bushwick; and Long Island City, Queens.

The law, passed last month, will make commercially zoned lofts (many defunct factories) eligible for rent stabilization and will protect tenants against eviction, thereby preserving the gems of living spaces that risky renters inhabited, often in rough-turned-trendy neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Bushwick.

To qualify for protection, here are the guidelines, according to the Times:

Units have to have been continuously occupied for a 12-month period between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009.

At least three lofts in the building must have been occupied.

Residents must apply for inclusion with the New York City Loft Board. The board has yet to adopt the new loft regulations, but once it does, eligible tenants will have six months to apply.

Once an application is approved, the landlord must bring the building up to speed with residential building requirements -- instillation of sprinklers and fire-resistant doors as well as removal of illegal partitions -- yes, removal of illegal partisans, the same frustrating thing that's going on all over New York. When all goes through, rent will be stabilized so it can only rise a certain percentage every year and the tenants can renew their leases indefinitely without fear of eviction. In effect, it's a "get out of jail free" card for landlords and tenants who haven't been complying with zoning laws.

So, do you qualify?...Need a roommate?

[LM]


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