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Construction & Design

City issues loft law guidelines

The Department of Buildings announced the release of project guidelines to help loft residents and owners navigate the process of converting their buildings to residential dwellings under the New York State Loft Law.

Earlier this year, the state approved an expansion of the Loft Law that will afford more units coverage and more people protection under the law.

DOB’s new guideline for loft conversions is intended to give stakeholders, including tenants, owners, and design professionals the information they need to bring these spaces into compliance with the fire and safety provisions of the Multiple Dwelling Law and applicable city codes.

“Loft buildings have played an integral role in the city’s history, providing much-needed housing for artists and others who have shaped the unique character of many New York neighborhoods. These new guidelines provide a clear roadmap for residents, landlords, and their architects and engineers, showing how to legalize spaces and make sure that tenants have safe places to live,” said Melanie E. La Rocca, Buildings Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Loft Board.

“One thing that was clear as the legislature negotiated and passed a major expansion of the Loft Law—to offer many more New Yorkers living in loft buildings the opportunity to apply for protection—was the need for clearer guidance and a smoother process for determining which living spaces may qualify and how they might be brought into full compliance with safety codes,” said Senator Brian Kavanagh, Chair of the Housing Committee. “

In 1982, the New York State Legislature enacted the New York City Loft Law and established the New York City Loft Board to oversee the legal conversion of certain units in the city from commercial/manufacturing use to residential use.

Article 7-C of the Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL), also known as the Loft Law, created a new classification of buildings in New York City known as interim multiple dwellings (IMD).

The Loft Law establishes a comprehensive framework for the conversion of IMD buildings to safe residences and compels landlords to do the work necessary to meet the minimum standards of the Multiple Dwelling Law and applicable city codes for residential occupancy.

After the New York City Loft Board determines that a building or part of the building is an IMD, the property owner is required by law to hire a registered design professional to create plans for the work necessary to bring the building or units into compliance and obtain a certificate of occupancy for the residential portions of the building.

This requires the design professional to prepare and file an “Alteration Type 1” (Alt-1) application with DOB, which is reviewed by an agency plan examiner. For more information, please visit the Loft Board’s website.

DOB developed its Project Guidelines series to provide an overview to owners, residents, contractors, design professionals, and skilled tradespeople of code requirements for construction projects – with the goal of preventing surprises in the permit application process and helping stakeholders complete their projects quickly and safely.

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