A number of Queens lawmakers yesterday expressed strong support for a proposed Co-op Clarification Bill (S6770 / A8718), that would carve out exceptions for co-op owners from last years Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, a historic piece of legislation meant to extend protections for renters in traditional landlord-tenant relationships
Cooperatives are a unique form of homeownership in which purchasers buy shares in an apartment corporation. Ownership in the shares entitles the purchaser to a long-term proprietary lease to an apartment. Owners are often referred to as “tenant-shareholders” and are, in essence, simultaneously tenants and their own landlords.
Some provisions in the new rent legislation to restore equity in landlord/tenant relationships stood in conflict with co-op proprietary leases and would potentially increase the costs of cooperative management – thus the need for the clarification measure.
The prime sponsors on the measure were State Senators. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Hollis, Rosedale, Laurelton, Kew Gardens, Queens Village) and John Liu (D- Flushing, College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston-Little Neck, parts of Hollis, Bellerose on the senate side and Assemblymember Ed Braunstein (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Bayside Hills, Broadway-Flushing, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Oakland Gardens, Whitestone) on the assembly side.
“The Tenant Protection Act, which extends important protections to tenants, was not meant for tenant-shareholders,” said Liu. “I represent a district with one of the largest concentrations of co-ops. The dynamics of co-op ownership cannot be compared to the landlord/tenant relationship on which the housing laws were based.”
“Despite the legislative intent that the new Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act should only apply to landlord/tenant relationships, there is concern that some provisions could potentially be interpreted as applying to proprietary leases,” said Braunstein. “To clear up any confusion, Senator Liu and I introduced this legislation to clarify that the new rent laws do not apply to co-ops and condos.”
“The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act was a monumental step toward a fairer housing market in New York State,” said Comrie. “But it’s become clear since its passage that certain provisions may have the unintended consequence of unduly burdening co-op boards and individual co-op shareholders, undermining the spirit of the HSTPA.”
Other Queens state lawmakers supporting the measure included State Sen. Toby Stavisky and Assemblymembers Aravella Simotas and David Weprin, who all supported the historic rent regulation.
“Unfortunately, portions of the [Housing Stability and Tenant Protection] Act were vague and have inadvertently caused a headache for co-op owners. I proudly support my colleagues’ bill to resolve any ambiguities and clarify the law as it pertains to co-ops,” said Stavisky.
“The historic Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which was signed into law in June, confers landmark protections to renters in our state but adversely effects tenant-shareholders who reside in co-ops and are both tenants and owners. The Co-op Clarification Bill will remedy the ambiguity in the new law to make sure that tenant-shareholders, many of whom are middle class families and retirees, aren’t negatively impacted,” said Weprin.
The co-op clarification measure also received support from City Council Member Paul Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone).
“Our co-ops exist as some of the final remaining affordable, middle-class housing options in New York City,” said Vallone. “While the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 made important strides to shield New York State’s millions of tenants from unfair practices, these newly enacted measures have established rules that put the financial viability of our co-op communities at risk.”