State renews J-51, putting tax break’s fate in city’s hands

Program to subsidize renovations expired a year ago

New York /
Jun.June 08, 2021 06:41 PM
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. (Getty, Facebook via Stavinsky)

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. (Getty, Facebook via Stavinsky)

The J-51 ball is now in the city’s court.

The state legislature has passed a bill that — assuming the governor signs it — permits the city to renew the landlord-friendly tax break, but it would need to do so by Jan. 1. The program lapsed last June.

J-51 participants are exempt from tax increases resulting from residential renovation or conversion work for either 14 or 34 years. They can then receive a break on existing real estate taxes of 8.3 percent or 12.5 percent of the cost of the work for up to 20 years. Under the state bill, work must be completed by June 30, 2022, to be eligible.

However, the City Council has shown no eagerness to renew the break. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has indicated that it will reform the program, but has made no proposals. Legislators included language in last year’s state budget that authorized cities to renew J-51 through June 30, 2021, but the City Council did not do so.

“These incentives have helped ensure the safety of New York City tenants and provide needed building renovations,” Queens Sen. Toby Stavisky, one of the state bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. “They have also helped provide affordable housing while reducing blight within our communities.”

But the number of properties participating in the program has declined dramatically over the last decade; landlords blame the city’s outdated method for calculating renovation costs. Another reason for the drop in interest may be that landlords have been sued for taking apartments out of rent regulation while receiving J-51 benefits.





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