As noted in an earlier post, the loss of income and/or a job as the result of COVID-19 does not relieve a tenant of the obligation to pay rent. Tenants in units covered by the Loft Law, however, may have a legal way to withhold rent.
The Loft Law and Loft Board rules require owners to legalize their buildings and obtain a residential certificate of occupancy. The law stablishes a strict schedule. If an owner misses any applicable deadline, the owner may not maintain a lawsuit to collect rent. See Chazon LLC v Maugenest, 19 NY3d 410 (2012). If you are in a loft building subject to the 1982, 1987 or 2010 iterations of the Loft Law and your building does not have a final residential certificate of occupancy, the odds are very good that the owner is out of compliance. If that’s the case, you have the right to withhold rent. Before doing so, however, you should consult an attorney to confirm the non-compliance and to explore the possible implications.
Please call me at 212.285.1300 if you have any questions.