Alterations: Loft Law (IMD)


These Guidelines deal with Department of Building Requirements relative to Interim Multiple Dwelling (IMD) units

  • These Guidelines will not deal with how an IMD is formed, except for a very general discussion of MDL 281, contained in this section; forming an IMD is not part of the DOB plan examiner’s review process.

  • For more detailed information on forming an IMD and Loft Board Procedures, the applicant should contact the Loft Board directly.

An IMD can be associated with the following:

  1. IMD Non-conforming - Whole or Part of Building
    1. Examples
      1. A whole manufacturing building, in a manufacturing (M) district, is an IMD (non-conforming residential de facto multiple dwelling)
      2. A manufacturing building, located in an M zoning district, only has a portion that is an IMD
    2. The following Requirements would apply:
      1. MDL Articles 7B and 7C, MDL Section 277
      2. Code – Some aspects of 1968 and current Code apply. Very few provisions of the 1938 Code are applied.
      3. Zoning – Very Limited, reviewed as non-conforming and non-complying existing de facto multiple dwelling
      4. Other – TPPN 9/93, LPPN 2/92 and other Bulletins & Rules
      5. HMC

  2. IMD Conforming – Whole or Part of Building
    1. Examples
      1. Whole building
        1. The whole building, located within a Zoning District allowing residential use, shall be comprised of only conforming and non-complying residential use IMD de facto dwelling units. Prior to IMD status, at some past time, building had in whole, or part, manufacturing and/or commercial use.
      2. Part of building
        • A building located in a residential zoning district, shall be comprised, in part only, of conforming and non-complying residential use IMD units. Prior to IMD status, at some past time, such building portion had non-conforming manufacturing use.
        • A building located in a commercial zoning district, shall be comprised, in part only, of conforming and non-complying residential use IMD units. Prior to IMD status, at some past time, such building portion had conforming commercial use.
    2. The following Requirements would apply
      1. MDL Articles 7B and 7C, MDL Section 277
      2. Code – Some aspects of 1968 and current Code apply. Very few provisions of the 1938 Code are applied.
      3. Zoning – Very limited, reviewed as conforming and non-complying existing de facto multiple dwelling.
      4. Other – TPPN 9/93, LPPN 2/92 and other Bulletins and Rules
      5. HMC

  3. IMD with JLWQA Designation – Whole or Part of Building
    1. Only applicable in M1-5A and M1-5B Districts
    2. The following requirements would apply:
      1. MDL Articles 7B and 7C, MDL Section 277
      2. Code – Some aspects of 1968 and current Code apply. Very few provisions of the 1938 Code are applied.
      3. Zoning – Article I Chapter 5. Designated JLWQA UG 17D, per ZR 42-14  
      4. Other – TPPN 9/93, LPPN 2/92 and other Bulletins and Rules
      5. HMC

Brief History ofthe Loft law, Loft Board and the IMD

In 1982, the New York State Legislature enacted the New York City Loft Law and established the New York City Loft Board to regulate the legal conversion of certain lofts in the city from commercial/manufacturing use to residential use. Article 7C 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 purpose of the Loft Law was to create a statutory system requiring landlords of these converted buildings, or portions thereof, to legalize such converted dwellings that were not up to Code, while having the residential tenants remain living in their units, and get a Certificate of Occupancy.

The Loft Law is comprised of sections 280 through 287 of the MDL. The agency that determines whether a building is covered under the Loft Law is the New York City Loft Board.

MDL §281 sets forth the criteria for becoming an interim multiple dwelling (IMD).

Under the original subsections of the Loft Law, MDL §281(1) and (2), only buildings located in a geographical area in which the local zoning resolution permitted residential use as of right could qualify as an IMD. However, there are only a few remaining buildings that were previously accepted as an IMD in accordance with MDL 281.1 and 281.2.

In 1987, the Loft Law was amended to, among other things, allow units to qualify as IMD’s even though their residential use was not permitted by the local zoning-resolution. That meant that units in buildings located in established manufacturing/commercial zones could also qualify as IMDs.

In 2010, the New York State Legislature expanded the definition of an IMD and added a new subsection to MDL §281, (5).  An IMD still includes buildings and structures or portions thereof in a city of more than one million people that at any time was occupied for manufacturing, commercial, or warehouse purposes, lacks a certificate of compliance or occupancy and was not owned by a municipality. With the expansion, IMDs may now also include buildings and structures with residential occupancy by three or more families living independently of one another during any consecutive twelve-month period from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009.

In addition to adding a new window period for coverage, MDL §281(5) added additional qualifications for coverage as an IMD. To become an IMD pursuant to MDL §281(5), such units must:

  • Not be located in a basement or cellar;

  • Have at least one entrance that does not require passage through another residential unit to obtain access to the unit;

  • Have at least one window opening onto a street, or a lawful yard or court;

  • Be at least five hundred and fifty (550) square feet in area;

  • Not be in an “industrial business zone (IBZ),” as defined in the Zoning Resolution, except in such zones in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, North Brooklyn and certain areas of Long Island City; and

  • Not be in a building that, on June 21, 2010, contained certain uses listed in Use Groups 15 through 18 of the Zoning Resolution which the Loft Board has determined to be inherently incompatible with residential use.

In 2015, the New York State Legislature again amended the definition of an IMD to, among other things include units that are at least four hundred (400) square feet.

After a building is determined to be an IMD, the owner of the IMD will hire a Registered Design Professional, who determines what work is required to bring the building into statutory compliance, as required to get a Certificate of Occupancy. This would require that the RDP prepare and file an Alteration Type 1 (Alt-1) application with the Department of Buildings (DOB). Prior to any issuance of a building permit, an IMD building owner must go through a special mediation as part of the planning process, which involves the subject building’s tenants. This process, called the Narrative Statement Process, allows a residential tenant to object to an owner's legalization plans if the planned work would unreasonably interfere with such tenant's use of his loft unit, and to file alternate plans. The Alt-1 application is also assigned to a DOB plan examiner, who will analyze the plans and present the architect with a series of numbered objections to be resolved. DOB plan examination will generate several Required Items, assigned by BIS automatically or entered by the examiner; one such required item will be to receive a Loft Board Certificate from the Loft Board. Once the DOB plan examiner receives written certification from the Loft Board, verifying that the Narrative Statement process is complete, a building permit can be issued by DOB. The legalization process regarding the Loft Board can be found on their website.


PROJECT NOTES

  1. An Alteration Project is described as follows:

    1. Construction resulting in the alteration of an existing building, which requires the issuance of an amended or new Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). Alteration work in an existing building may include any combination of the following:

    2. Vertical and Horizontal Enlargements - An addition to the “floor area” or the size of an existing building, as allowed by MDL 277.

    3. Conversions – As permitted by the Loft Board decision, in their decision to create an IMD, a loft conversion is a de facto change of use as defined by the ZR, and/or a change in the occupancy classification as defined in BC Chapter 3.

    4. Egress Modifications – Any substantive change in the exiting width, travel distance, location, fire resistance rating or occupancy load of exits, or any change in number of required exits in a building.

    5. Floor Area Reductions – A reduction to an existing building’s floor area that impacts the Certificate of Occupancy. For example, the complete elimination of one or more stories from a building, the demolition of a public assembly space, etc.

  2. Mixed Use Building

  3. A mixed use building could contain any combination of two or more uses as per the Building Code, while a mixed building is a more narrowly defined term in ZR 12-10 and includes only residential with commercial and/or community facility uses in a Commercial District. A Mixed Use building with a primary Manufacturing use may also contain the following uses: Commercial, Institutional, Educational, Community Facility and Residential.

  4. Building Systems, such as new or modified plumbing, HVAC, or gas systems may be involved in an Alteration Project and are covered in their respective Building System Guidelines


Project Categories:

  1. Building Systems Installation & Modifications

  2. Renovations

  3. Construction Equipment

  4. Alterations

  5. Demolition COMING SOON!

  6. New Buildings COMING SOON!


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