Letter to the Editor: New York’s ground-lease coop residents need more security

  • May 11, 2024
  • Media Coverage

As seen in Lohud/Journal News on Saturday, May 11, 2024.

Click here to view the guest opinion online.

By Jane Curtis, Special to the USA TODAY Network

New York is facing a housing crisis like never before, and while the average New Yorker may not understand the importance of ground lease cooperative — commonly called co-op — housing or the layer of security that is needed, the more than 25,000 New Yorkers who reside in ground lease co-ops certainly do.

Current ground lease co-op residents are vulnerable to rent increases that must be borne by all shareholders, including those on fixed incomes. For prospective residents, there are challenges to obtaining 30-year mortgages because a more affordable ground lease co-op is seen as being unpredictable by banks and lenders. Predictability is a keyword in this fight for fairness and it’s needed across the board.

The New York State Senate Chamber sits mostly empty during a budget session in the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York, U.S., March 15, 2021. REUTERS/Angus Mordant
Fortunately, a bill to ensure a level of security, protection and predictability for those living in ground lease co-ops has been introduced in the New York State Legislature. It mirrors protections that were recently signed into law that expanded rights for those living in manufactured homes who faced similar threats from third-party landowners. Without these protections, rent could be raised without input from homeowners. If it was unacceptable for manufactured homeowners in New York State, it should be unacceptable for ground lease co-op homeowners in New York State as well.

On behalf of those impacted by S.7825/A.5031A, I extend sincere appreciation to the legislators who have moved quickly to join our fight and hope that we will secure these protections this year.

Jane Curtis, a resident of Mount Vernon, New York, is affiliated with the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester & the Mid-Hudson Region, and is chair of the Cooperative and Condominium Advisory Council.