Queens lawmakers celebrate expansion of tax program that helps co-ops and condos make capital improvements

Real Estate Development , Rent , and Housing
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More co-op and condo owners will now have the opportunity to join a previously expired tax abatement program, thanks to a bill signed into law earlier this month by a Flushing lawmaker in the Senate and a Bayside lawmaker in the Assembly. 

The J-51 tax abatement, which helps co-ops and condos make capital improvements, now allows for co-ops and condos with an assessed value of up to $40,000 to join the program. 

Previously, the tax abatement, which expired on June 30, 2019, was only available to units with an assessed value of up to $35,000, a number lawmakers said didn’t match the increasing cost of living. 

Senator Toby Ann Stavisky of Flushing introduced the bill in the New York State Senate, and Assemblyman Edward Braunstien of Bayside introduced the bill in the New York State Assembly. After passing in both houses, it was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this month, on July 3, 2019. 

“This will enable middle-class co-ops and condos to try to keep maintenance costs down when repairs and renovations are necessary,” Stavisky said.    

The program, enacted 65 years ago, was created to encourage older rental property owners to install hot water plumbing. Over time, co-ops and condos have used the tax program for roof repairs, electrical improvements, window replacements, installing new elevators and other structural enhancements. 

“The J-51 program makes it possible for housing co-ops to maintain and improve their properties,” said Warren Schreiber, co-president of the Co-op and Condo Council. “If not for this program, the entire financial burden of capital improvements would fall on the shoulders of middle-income shareholders. Extending the J-51 program will help affordable co-op housing to remain affordable.” 

“Over time, as assessments continue to rise, more and more co-op units have fallen out of the J-51 program,” Braunstein said. “Our legislation, signed into law by Governor Cuomo, extends the J-51 program and increases the assessed value cap from $35,000 to $40,000, helping middle-class families afford the cost of capital improvements. 

Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village, the largest garden apartment co-op in New York, celebrated the passing of the law. 

“The J-51 tax exemption program is an important component in helping to keep our affordable housing stock in good condition for its working-class residents,” Friedrich said.