How current events impact business & real estate

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

John Oliver Tackles Fair Housing - Newsday's Long Island Divided is on HBO

If you still don't understand that housing discrimination happens or if you are confused about the long term impacts of discrimination, you need to watch this great explanation of housing discrimination on HBO by John Oliver - it's a must watch for anyone who doesn't understand that housing discrimination from yesterday impacts lives today. 

Alternatively, here is The Lieb Cast tackling the same issue on our podcast back on January 31, 2021. 

Who does the topic better; Lieb or Oliver?

Shouldn't John have Lieb on his show?

What do you think?

Monday, July 26, 2021

New Requirements for Brookhaven ZBA

The Town of Brookhaven has issued new requirements for its Board of Zoning Appeals members (Town Code at Chapter 85).

Now, members of the ZBA must: 

  • Attend a minimum of 4 seminars/courses of certified education training in both planning and ethics with a minimum of 2 seminars in each area; & 
  • Attend all public meetings with no greater than 4 absences from such meetings being permitted within each year.

If a current board member fails to comply with these new requirements, they may be removed from the board following a public hearing. 

Based on these new requirements, the Brookhaven ZBA is becoming a much more professional administrative body. 

Do you think other towns, villages, and cities should follow suit?

Educating those who make important decisions about our communities is definitely something that we can support. Do you? 

Friday, July 23, 2021

You Just Can't Say "Made in USA" on Products Anymore

The FTC has finalized a new "Made in USA" rule, which sets forth that labels may not contain unqualified "Made in USA" claims unless

  1. Final assembly or processing of product occurs in the US;
  2. All significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the US; or
  3. All or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the US.

Clearly, the FTC is attempting to crack down on enterprises who falsely claim products are made in the US. Is that you?

Think, Amazon retailers - do you even know if your product comports with the rule? 

Should you fail to meet the criteria listed above, the FTC has the power to seek civil penalties of up to $43,280 per violation - wow!

Will these penalties motivate you to immediately confirm that you qualify before advertising "Made in USA"? 

Will large internet based enterprises scale back on selling/distributing certain products in order to ensure compliance with this new rule? 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Neverending Assault on Landlord's $ Continues with New Bill on Governor's Desk

Landlords are about to be capped on key reproduction fees in NYS. 

You may be saying whoopdeedoo, but it's not that simple. 

The cap is 110% of the actual cost of reproduction. However, the cap doesn't apply for the 4th time the tenant needs the keys in a calendar year. 

The real question is what happened the second and third time the tenant needed a new key. Why are they constantly losing their keys? Do you lose your house keys FOUR times in a year? 

Here is a question - does this new key reproduction cap also cap the shipping and handling of the new keys? Think about it. Now a landlord needs to stop their day, drive to a local hardware shop, wait about 20 minutes for the line and the key to be made, drive back to their office, and deliver the key for virtually fifty cents. This is nuts. 

Maybe the legislature should realize that landlords never wanted to make money on key reproduction in the first place. Instead, they charged a lot to motivate their tenants to STOP LOSING KEYS. 

Read the new law, section 235-i of the Real Property Law, here

Governor Cuomo should not to sign this stupid law. 

If he does, lawyers need to draft leases with shipping and handling fees for keys, but it's unclear if such fees will be upheld in court when the litigation ensues on the topic. 

Do you think landlords should be able to charge fees for shipping and handling of key reproduction?

Airplane Lost Your Bag??? - Get $$ Under New DOT Proposed Rule

The US Department of Transportation is proposing a rule that requires airlines to refund checked baggage fees if they don't deliver the bag in a timely manner. 

That's a start for sure... How about requiring them to pay for all the items that you had to purchase while you didn't have your stuff on your trip???

Make your voice heard - comment on this proposed rule by filing out this form until 9/20/2021. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Filing a Discrimination Complaint with the NYS Division of Human Rights Just Got Easier

As of July 16, 2021, discrimination victims need not have their discrimination complaints notarized before filing them with the NYS Division of Human Rights, per a change to Executive Law 297(1)

This applies to both victims of employment discrimination and housing discrimination.

According to the laws justification, the notarization requirement "discourage[d] people from filing complaints" and the Division nonetheless received over 6,000 complaints annually. 

How many complaints will the Division receive now? 

Do you think that this new law makes sense? 

Does it matter if a document is notarized? 

Shouldn't preventing discrimination be as easy as pie? 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Attention Landlords - Source of Income Discrimination Lawsuits are Coming as of 9/14/2021

On July 16, 2021, new Executive Law 170-e was signed into law and requires that all administrators of housing assistance (governmental / nonprofits) ensure that "individuals who have applied for and are eligible to receive such assistance, payment, subsidy or credit are informed, in writing, of their rights and remedies available under law, with regard to lawful source of income discrimination.”

The law is effective as of September 14, 2021 and that is an important deadline for landlords, brokers, and property managers to get up to speed on the rules to avoid source of income discrimination in their ranks.

To illustrate, a housing provider who requests a credit score from a voucher recipient could be discrimination, a housing provider who demands a minimum income from a voucher recipient could be discrimination, and a housing provider who makes receipt of a voucher a precondition to seeing units could be discriminating.

Do you have policies in place to avoid your team discriminating and subjecting you to a major lawsuit??

More so, those policies better include the forthcoming regulations that the State Division of Human Rights is going to promulgate to particularize this new law.

Are you ready? 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Attention Mom & Pop Landlords & Tenants - New Anti-Discrimination Law

Ever see a landlord renting the second unit in their two-family residence who posted a sign in the window stating "whites only," or what about a landlord asking a prospective tenant for their religious affiliation with the intention of refusing to rent to persons of a particular creed? 

Effective July 16, 2021, that is illegal in the State of New York. 

Previously there was an exemption to anti-discrimination laws that permitted this despicable behavior when a landlord was renting an owner-occupied two-family unit, known as Mrs. Murphy Law.

Now, under Executive Law 296, all property in this state is subject to the same law for discriminatory advertising - it is unlawful to print or circulate or cause to be printed or circulated any statement, advertisement or publication, or to use any form of application, or to make any record or inquiry which expresses, directly or indirectly, any limitation, specification or discrimination as to race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, or familial status, or any intent to make any such limitation, specification or discrimination.

Are you happy that New York State is increasing accessibility and equality for all; or, do you miss the good old days when you could be a miserable bigot? 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

New Law Extends Partial Tax Abatement Law for Certain Co-Ops and Condos

A new NYS law extends partial real property tax abatement for co-ops and condos within a city containing a population of one million or more, through the NYC fiscal year that begins in 2022.

Technically, the law amends paragraphs (a) and (b) of Real Property Tax Law 467-a (2).

Previously, the Real Property Tax Law authorized partial tax abatement for these co-ops and condos from the fiscal year commencing in 2012 through 2020.  The new law now provides a 2-year extension.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be in our rear-view mirrors, many families continue to endure hardships caused by the brutal pandemic. As a result, Governor Como continues to pass legislation related to tax abatement and/or exemptions for certain dwellings (e.g., S.6487).

How long will legislation extending tax abatement and/or exemptions for certain dwellings continue to be passed? 

Time will tell...

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

New Law Confirms Section 8 Housing is Managed by NYS, Not Private Industry

Private industries may NOT assume control over federally assisted housing stock in NY, as has happened in CT, which was just made clear by a new law.

Instead, Section 8 housing contracts will continue to be administered by The New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation ("Corporation") and Division of Housing and Community Renewal ("DHCR") in NY.  

Section 8 of the US Housing Act is designed so landlords can rent housing at fair market rates to low income tenants, in which the federal government will pay a portion of the rent to a landlord through a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. 

Private industry would want to take over Section 8 because of the tremendous amount of money flowing from the federal government and the availability to bring efficiencies that would create tremendous profit and innovation.

However, NY will continue to have its federally assisted housing stock controlled by the state and local governments.

Is state / local government better suited than private industry to manage our federally assisted housing stock? Isn't private industry more innovative and efficient? Or, is it that private industry only makes elites rich? Is this the type of thing that is the better domain of government or private industry? 

Regardless, developers and landlords now have predictability into the future when they get involved in subsidized housing. Predictability is always a good thing in business.