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Loft dwellers worry law meant to protect, will drive them out

<p>A loft law approved in Albany last week has been touted a victory for tenants living in illegally converted lofts, but some in changing industrial areas like East Williamsburg and Bushwick fear new protections for tenants could end up protecting the wealthy.</p>

A loft law approved in Albany last week has been touted a victory for tenants living in illegally converted lofts, but some in changing industrial areas like East Williamsburg and Bushwick fear new protections for tenants could end up protecting the wealthy.


“Sarah,” who asked that her real name not be used for fear of retribution by her landlord, understands that the state law is supposed to make apartments safer and protect residents from arbitrary eviction and rent gouging, but she isn’t sure it will help her.


The 25-year-old theater artist and graduate student shares a $1,900-a-month space in an industrial Bushwick building with two roommates.


The law requires landlords to bring buildings up to code, but allows them to pass construction costs onto tenants. She fears it will make her apartment unaffordable.


“The law, for me, doesn’t offer protection,” she said. She signed a commercial lease three years ago.


Putting up with a loud, ground-floor business was worth having a space to hold rehearsals. “It will support long-term loft-living for someone, but not for the average person in the creative community,” she said.


State Assemblyman Joe Lentol, who co-sponsored the bill, called it “absolutely essential to protect people in lofts” and believed it would help many artists in New York because the bill provides rent stabilization protections.

 
 
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