A new bill signed into law last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul gives loft residents the ability to sue neglectful landlords in NYC Housing Court, a right that loft tenants previously didn’t have. 

The new law gives loft tenants the power to fight back against landlords who deny, interrupt or discontinue essential services, such as heat, hot water, electricity and gas, or create or ignore factors that make a unit uninhabitable, like mold, leaks or other significant building maintenance problems that make living conditions dangerous. 

Before the bill, which was signed into law on Dec. 1, loft tenants were shorted the right to sue unjust landlords because lofts, officially called “interim multiple dwellings,” are in former commercial and manufacturing spaces, a longstanding and confusing loophole in the legal system. 

“It’s not a luxury to live in a home with essential services like heat and hot water — it’s a basic human right that every New Yorker deserves,” Gov. Hochul said in a press statement. “This common-sense legislation gives tenants access to redress in housing court when they are denied essential services, a crucial step towards keeping New Yorkers safe in their homes.”

Over recent years, those living in lofts have experienced an increase in harassment and neglect, according to the state, and have not been able to go to NYC Housing Court to force basic repairs and maintenance. Meanwhile, nearly all other NYC tenants have had this right. 

Before this new law was signed, loft tenants experiencing issues of landlord harassment and/or neglect had to voice their problems to the Loft Board, instead of the NYC Housing Court. According to the state, the Loft Board, which is not an official court of law, had “not been fully equipped” to address these issues. 

“Issues relating to repairs and habitability ought to be heard in Housing Court, not by the Loft Board, which is not equipped to resolve such questions,” Bushwick’s State Sen. Julia Salazar, a sponsor of the bill, said in a press statement. “I am thankful to Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this legislation which would amend the Loft Law and grant loft tenants the same protections to safe and habitable housing as other tenants.”

While it is uncertain exactly how many people will be impacted by this law, many of Brooklyn’s lofts are located in Bushwick and Williamsburg. 

“Loft tenants deserve to be protected and have recourse when their landlord fails to make urgent repairs or provide essential services,” Sen. Salazar posted to Instagram on Tuesday, along with images of the press briefing in Williamsburg. 

Featured image: via Sen. Salazar’s Instagram page.

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