Letter to the Editor: Pass co-op protections

  • May 23, 2024
  • Media Coverage

As seen in the Queens Chronicle on Thursday, May 23, 2024.

Click here to view the guest opinion online.

By Michael Tang, ground lease co-op resident

Dear Editor:

Tenant rights and consumer protections should be a no-brainer when it comes to affordable housing, which is at a critical breaking point statewide. However, there are more than 25,000 New Yorkers who lack these basic protections.

These residents, who are from all walks of life, live in ground lease co-ops, meaning they own their home but not the land they live upon. My wife and I are among them. And we’re all at risk of losing our homes due to predatory third-party landowners.

My family and my neighbors purchased our co-op apartments in Flushing to build a life in a culturally diverse community. The closeness of the Long Island Rail Road and subway provides access to our jobs, parks and other cultural, faith-based and social activities, which are the underpinnings of our lives.

Unfortunately, because we don’t own the land where our building sits, we’re at the mercy of multimillion-dollar landowners. We face the perils of involuntary relocation at the end of our lease agreements, which for some is as early as 2025. It’s physically impossible for a co-op to relocate to a different location, and this creates a type of quasi-monopolistic power for the landowner.

By passing S. 7825/A. 5031A, sponsored by state Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, NYS can establish a co-op Bill of Rights to enforce an annual cap on rent increases; establish the right to borrow for repairs, maintenance, and improvements; institute the right to renew our lease; and provide residents the right of first refusal to purchase the land.

Ground lease co-op residents need housing fairness, predictability, and affordability to remain in their homes. These are single parents, older adults on fixed incomes, and residents who have dedicated their lives to public service. I urge our elected officials to act now and protect the rights of homeowners.