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New York City Council Considers Amendment to Local Law 97 Affordable Housing Provisions

On May 28, 2020, New York City Councilmember Costa Constantinides, among others, introduced a bill—Int. No 1947—to significantly amend the affordable housing provisions of Local Law 97 of 2019.

Local Law 97 and the technical amendments in Local Law 147 of 2019 require most new and existing buildings in New York City over 25,000 gross square feet to meet carbon emission caps starting in 2024. Certain types of affordable housing, including “rent regulated accommodations,” can install prescribed energy conservation measures instead of meeting the caps. The term “rent regulated accommodations” is defined in Local Law 147 as buildings “containing one or more dwelling units required by law or by an agreement with a governmental entity to be regulated in accordance with the emergency tenant protection act of 1974, the rent stabilization law of 1969, or the local emergency housing rent control act of 1962.” This definition encompasses buildings with one or more rent controlled or rent stabilized units. For example, under current law, many buildings with tax incentives through the Affordable Housing New York Program and 80/20 Program may be considered “rent regulated accommodations” that do not have to meet the carbon emissions caps.

Int. No 1947 proposes to amend the definition of “rent regulated accommodations” from buildings containing one or more dwelling units required to be regulated under the listed statutes to buildings in which more than 35% of dwelling units are rent regulated. This amendment would require many more buildings to meet the carbon emissions caps, including many Affordable Housing New York and 80/20 buildings.

At this stage, it is unclear if Int. No. 1947 will gain traction in the City Council or be revised along the way. However, even if the bill does not pass this session, similar changes to the affordable housing provisions of Local Law 97 may be on the horizon. In addition to whatever amendments the City Council may pass, the Advisory Board convened by the NYC Department of Buildings to assist with Local Law 97 implementation is tasked with making recommendations for, among other things, reducing building emissions from rent regulated accommodations. The Advisory Board, with the assistance of expert working groups, is tasked with producing a report on this topic and others listed in Local Law 97 by January 2023.

Therefore, it would be prudent for building developers, owners, managers and other stakeholders with affordable housing to assess compliance with the carbon emissions caps should their buildings be subject to these requirements in the future.

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