What are JLWQA Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists

by | Last updated Feb 6, 2021 | New York City, NYC DOB, NYC Zoning, Property Development

Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists or JLWQA is a building use for buildings designated for Artist live work spaces. This applies in certain loft dwellings in a few Zoning districts within New York City.

There are buildings in NYC, primarily SoHo lofts, that are designated as Joint Live Work quarters for Artists. These buildings were originally commercial or manufacturing buildings that were being illegally rented to and used by artists as their homes and art studio space. New York City made laws to protect these individuals in the 1980s and began legalizing these spaces requiring the building owners to bring the building up to code for Dwellings. Additionally, new Zoning Districts were created to allow for this type of use (as these were often in Manufacturing zoning districts).

M1-5A and M1-5B Zoning Districts require JLWQA for residential occupancy.

M1-5A Zoning is in SoHo

M1-5B Zoning is in parts of soHo and NoHo

SoHo is an abbreviation for South of Houston street. NoHo is an abbreviation for North of Houston Street.


How to Qualify for Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists

These types of Lofts are meant for artists. In order to qualify, they should be certified by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

A household in residence on January 8, 1987 that does not qualify as an artist that registered within 9 months of January 8, 1987.

The Zoning code also says: “any person who is entitled to occupancy by any other provision of law”. This is not very specific. If you think you fall under this category, I advise consulting with a Housing Attorney.


Codes for JLWQA Lofts

The New York City Multiple Dwelling Law has specific sections for JLWQA codes and requirements. These have a little bit more leeway on certain code issues that would not be applicable to a normal apartment.

Below are a few examples of Codes from the Multiple Dwelling Law that apply to JLWQA Lofts.

Fire Separation

All units must be separated by a fire rated wall separation. No fire separation is required between the living and work space within a single unit.

Light and Air Requirements

Windows cannot be within 5 feet of a rear lot line. There are many other issues with windows. This is one critical one that I included. I am not listing every single code.

Rooms shall have window area of at least 10% if the room is less than 500 square feet. It can decrease by 1% for each 100 square feet over 500 sf to a minimum of 5%. At least half of the required window surface area must be operable.

Kitchens in JLWQA

Kitchens over 80 square feet require windows. An open kitchen will be considered part of the space it adjoins if at least 40% open. Kitchens under 80 square feet can have a window or mechanical exhaust.

Doors to Corridor

Doors to public halls must be fireproof doors and have self closing hardware.

A maximum of 2 apartments can open to a common stair without an “intervening enclosed hallway”. These hallways are fire rated.


NYC Lofts and JLWQA

Not all NYC Lofts are JLWQA, but all Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists are Lofts. The easiest way to determine this is to check the building’s Certificate Of Occupancy.

Zoning Use Group for JLWQA

Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists fall under Zoning Use Group 17D. If a Certificate Of Occupancy Lists Use Group 17D that means it is a JLWQA Loft.

Below is a Certificate of Occupancy for a Loft building where we are renovating and combining two Lofts in SoHo.


Joint Live Work Quarters for Artist Certificate Of Occupancy

Joint Live Work Quarters for Artist Certificate Of Occupancy


Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists

As an architect, I study Building and Zoning Codes closely, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article, we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards to JLWQA Lofts. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.


Thank you for reading our blog post on JLWQA Lofts.

I hope this was helpful. If you would like to speak with an architect, you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.


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Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.