News Release: New York Co-Op Apartment Owners Organizing & Seeking Protections from Eminent Threats During Housing Crisis

  • April 29, 2024
  • Press Releases

New York Co-Op Apartment Owners Organizing & Seeking Protections from Eminent Threats During Housing Crisis

Grassroots Coalition Launches Webpage and Digital Advocacy Campaign Aimed at Passage of Krueger/Rosenthal Legislation

More than 25,000 New Yorkers residing in ground lease co-op apartments have come together to advocate for state legislation introduced in Albany that will provide basic tenant rights and consumer protections from threats to their homes when long-term land lease provisions expire.

The group has been meeting informally for approximately six months and working with key legislators to raise awareness and underscore the urgency of this matter during the 2024 legislative session.

For some co-op owners, their homes are in jeopardy, as existing ground lease terms sunset in 2025.

Earlier this year, identical bills (S. 7825 and A. 5031A) were sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee and Assembly Housing committees.

The grassroots coalition today activated a digital advocacy campaign to complement parallel efforts to raise awareness of the bill with legislators and to engage stakeholders such as: co-op boards, owners and housing rights organizations to take action by joining its cause.

The group has established a website framing its objectives, concerns and rationale for the legislation.

“New York’s affordable housing crisis is far-reaching, impacting both tenants and homeowners alike,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing. “That is why I have introduced legislation to protect co-op owners in buildings subject to ground leases from untenable and skyrocketing increases. In passing this critical bill we have an opportunity to level the playing field for the many New Yorkers who are facing staggering surprise increases now that their building’s ground lease is expiring. This legislation will go a long way in protecting New Yorkers who bought into the American dream of owning their home; with a jump in the number of people leaving the State for more affordable regions, we must do everything possible to keep our neighbors in their homes without exhausting their paychecks and savings.”

“Ground lease co-op residents deserve basic protections against displacement and abnormal market conditions that have left them with limited negotiating power,” said Senator Krueger, chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “In order to preserve the homes of tens of thousands of middle-income New Yorkers amidst an escalating housing crisis, ground lease co-ops must have the right to renew their leases with reasonable rent increases, the ability to borrow funds for safety related projects, and the right to purchase the land if an owner chooses to sell.

Ground leases, which are prevalent throughout various densely populated areas including the New York City boroughs and Westchester County, are circumstances where the land upon which a building sits is not owned by the residential occupants but rather a third-party landlord. When the lease expires, some of which were established decades ago, the co-op apartment owners may be required to pay exorbitant rents, forced to accept additional threatening conditions or face eviction from their homes.

Michael Tang, a six-year resident of a ground lease co-op located in Queenssaid: “My neighbors love living in the Flushing area, the vast majority are senior citizens who have built a life in the community – their families live nearby. They embrace the cultural diversity, and value the access to the Long Island Rail Road and subway.  They support the ground lease legislation because it addresses an important and ongoing issue – the ability of co-op owners to borrow for repairs, maintenance, and capital improvements. In other cases, for those who may be seeking to sell a co-op because their family is growing, the transaction and market is limited because many banks are unwilling to provide mortgages to those seeking to purchase a co-op containing a ground lease.”

Louis Grumet, is a resident of a ground lease Co-op located in Manhattan, said: “When I retired, my wife and I purchased an apartment after moving out of our long-term home north of the city,” Grumet said. “I was disabled and found the building appealing because it was barrier free, due to our limited mobility while also being in proximity to our health care providers and local attractions. Those of us who live in the building are concerned about predictability of our monthly expenses and absorbing the costs when ground lease rents escalate.”

Jane Curtis, of the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester & the Mid-Hudson Region, and chair of the Cooperative and Condominium Advisory Council (CCAC), said: “Cooperative housing is among the most cost-effective homeownership options for New Yorkers seeking secure and affordable housing. The proposed bill would offer an additional layer of security and predictability for co-op residents who may struggle with rent increases on the ground lease that must be borne by all shareholders, including those on a fixed income. Furthermore, some looking to move into a co-op are already beginning to face challenges in obtaining standard 30-year mortgages due to banks and lenders finding ground leases to be unpredictable. At a time of severe housing shortage, ruinous ground lease renewals pose a threat to some of the only affordable homeownership opportunities in the NY Metro area. Passage of S7825 and A5031A will prohibit these predatory practices, stabilize the market for co-op mortgages, and restore financial stability to those co-ops affected.”

The Coalition’s Memo of Support details its position.

  • Housing Crisis | New York Co-Op Apartment Owners