LIEB BLOG

Legal Media Analysts

Showing posts with label #newlaw. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #newlaw. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

New York Establishes Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities

New law establishes Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities. The Office assures that disabled people are afforded the opportunity to exercise all of the rights and responsibilities accorded to citizens of New York.

Operating under the Department of State, the Office shall advise and assist state agencies in developing policies designed to help meet the needs of the disabled by:

  • Coordinating the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • Ensuring that state programs do not discriminate against disabled people; 
  • Ensuring that programs provide appropriate services for disabled individuals; and 
  • Working with state agencies to develop legislation and potential regulatory changes.
The Office will be headed by a Director, appointed by the Governor. 

Landlords should be actively removing barriers to access so that this new Advocate doesn't bring suit against them for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 



Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Third-Party Delivery Services Cannot Sell or Advertise Merchant's Products Without a Valid Agreement with the Merchant

On December 21, 2021, Gov. Hochul signed Bill A04651 into law, which requires third-party delivery services to have a valid agreement with merchants before advertising, promoting, or selling any of the merchant's products on their platforms. 


So going forward, third-party delivery services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, and GrubHub must have valid agreements with local restaurants before promoting or selling any of the restaurants' food/products. There is no question, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, local restaurants have utilized third-party delivery service platforms to further promote their businesses, to generate new customers, and to increase overall exposure to local communities. At the same time, the use of third-party food delivery services has exploded and these third-party food delivery services have gotten away with charging local restaurants excessive fees and commissions on the delivery of a restaurant's food/products, which have diminished a restaurant's overall profit. 


This new legislation also forbids any indemnity clauses in these agreements. It is common for many third-party food delivery services to attempt to limit their own liability for any issues related to the food itself or for any accidents that occur during the delivery process. This is why third-party service agreements often contain an indemnity clause, which is a "risk-shifting" provision, in which a restaurant agrees to defend, reimburse, and hold harmless a third-party food delivery service for any and all claims arising out of the third-party food delivery services' scope of work.  


This new legislation ensures that restaurants in New York State will know precisely what fees/commissions a third-party food delivery service will charge on deliveries and also protects restaurants against claims arising from the delivery of their food/products. 


Violations of this new legislation can result in a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation. Additionally, a restaurant has the right to file a lawsuit for damages, which includes the civil penalty of $1,000 per violation, injunctive relief, and may even be awarded reasonable court costs and attorney's fees at the court's discretion. 


Will we see fewer restaurants advertised on third-party delivery services apps going forward in light of this new legislation? 


Will we see a snowball effect of increased lawsuits against third-party delivery services? 


Time will tell...





It's Official! Lenders Must Maintain Vacated Residential Property at the Start of a Foreclosure Action

As you may recall, a proposed bill (S1579A) was submitted to Gov. Hochul earlier this month seeking to amend the RPAPL and require lenders, assignees, or mortgage loan servicers to maintain and upkeep vacant residential property at the beginning of a foreclosure action, rather than towards the end of it. 


On December 21, 2021, Gov. Hochul signed the bill into law and it became effective immediately. 


Lenders are likely not thrilled about this new legislation considering they now face the burdensome task of maintaining and upkeeping vacated residential homes throughout the entire foreclosure process, which as we all know, could last months or even years. 


Lenders could also face the risk of being accused of trespass for gaining access to what is a supposed to be a vacant residential home that is being foreclosed upon. It is certainly not uncommon for homeowners to continue residing at a foreclosed home especially at the commencement of a foreclosure action.  


What kind of ripple effect will this new legislation have on residential foreclosure actions going forward?


Stay tuned over the coming months to find out....








Thursday, November 04, 2021

Builders Required to Provide Cost Estimate of Fire Sprinkler System Beginning September 1, 2022


Starting September 1, 2022, prospective buyers of newly built one or two-family homes will now become aware of the possibility of a fire damaging their home, and have the opportunity to reduce this risk prior to even beginning construction.

 

On November 4, 2021, Governor Hochul signed Bill S1383 into law, which amends Section 759-a of the General Business Law. Beginning September 1, 2022, builders of one- or two-family homes with less than three stories will be required to provide a buyer with a cost estimate for the installation and maintenance of an automatic fire sprinkler system. The builder must also provide a copy of written materials prepared by the office of fire prevention and control which details the benefits of and includes factors that can affect the costs associated with the installation and maintenance of an automatic fire sprinkler. If the buyer requests the installation of the automatic fire sprinkler system, the builder shall install it at the buyer’s expense.

 

Fire Sprinkler systems are an effective device in the event of a fire and are not uncommon. Many structures such as commercial buildings and multi-family homes are required to install such devices in the State of New York. The justifications for this bill seem very convincing, and this bill will allow prospective homeowners who are planning new construction with a cost estimate for installation of a fire sprinkler system which could ultimately, save their house or even more importantly, their lives.

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Fight to Stop Source of Income Discrimination in NYC

NYC Council has enacted local law 1339-2019, which amends Title 21 of the NYC Administrative Code by adding section 21-142, requiring the DSS to provide CityFHEPS (a rental assistance program designed to help individuals and families find and keep housing) applicants with written notice about source of income discrimination at the time an applicant receives a shopping letter from the DSS. 


The notice would provide information about protections under the NYC Human Rights Law related to source of income discrimination.  


The notice will provide the following: 

  • Examples of phrases that may indicate discrimination based on lawful source of income.
  • A statement that it is illegal for landlords, brokers, and other housing agents to request additional payments for rent, security deposit, or broker's fee because an individual receives rental assistance.
  • A statement that it is illegal for landlords, brokers, and other housing agents to publish any type of advertisement that indicates a refusal to accept rental assistance.
  • A statement that an individual has a right to be free from discriminatory, harassing, or threatening behavior or comments based on individuals' receipt of rental assistance. 
  • Contact information for the department's source of income discrimination unit.


Clearly, this local law significantly stops landlords from discriminating against prospective or existing tenants that qualify for source of income under the CityFHEPS program. On the flip side of the coin, the law undoubtedly benefits those receiving source of income from the CityFHEPS program and prospective tenant applicants of the CityFHEPS program, by greatly reducing the likelihood of landlord discrimination based on source of income, while also providing a method to report any future source of income discrimination. 


What's missing is that CityFHEPS recipients should know that they can file suit and get their attorneys' fees paid if they are victims of discrimination. While the BYC Council has made it clear that source of income discrimination will not be tolerable on any level, are landlords prepared to avoid claims of discrimination?  


Landlords - what are you doing to enact policies so your teams don't discriminate? 




Tuesday, September 07, 2021

New Legislation - Shared Work Program Gives Employers Flexibility to Avoid Layoffs

Struggling employers can reduce their employee's hours and those employees can offset their lost wages with unemployment insurance (UI) under the Shared Work Program, which now offers even more flexibility thanks to S.4049, which Governor Hochul signed on Labor Day (9/6/21).


The Shared Work Program provides employers with an alternative to laying off workers during business struggles by allowing employees to receive partial UI benefits while working reduced hours. 


Previously, under the Shared Work Program, employees could only collect partial UI benefits for up to 26 straight weeks, regardless of what their maximum benefit entitlement is under UI. 


Now, the new legislation changes the cap on shared work benefits from 26 straight weeks to an amount of time equal to 26 weeks' worth of benefits. In other words, employees can now collect UI benefits until they have reached their maximum benefit amount under UI. 


This change will ultimately extend the length of time a worker will receive benefits under the Shared Work Program.


According to Gov. Hochul, "these bills [workforce legislation package] will ensure that workers receive fair wages, benefits, and are kept safe in their work places." 


How big of an impact do you think this new legislation will have on workers and employers going forward? 





Friday, August 20, 2021

New Law Cuts Down Banking Overdraft Fees for its Customers

In one of his last acts as Governor for the State of New York, Gov. Cuomo signed legislation on August 19, 2021, which requires banks in NY to take action to prevent overdraft fees against its customers. 


Previously, under the NYS Banking Law, if a customer's check exceeds the funds available in the customer's checking account, that check and any subsequent checks received by the bank would be dishonored by the bank. In other words, even if there were sufficient funds to satisfy these subsequent checks, the banks would still dishonor those checks because the initial check was rejected, and therefore, the banks would be able to charge overdraft fees on each rejected check. 


This new legislation (S1465) requires banks to honor any subsequent checks presented to a bank if the customer's account has sufficient funds to cover those checks, even if the initial or prior check was dishonored due to insufficient funds in the checking account. 


The rationale behind this new legislation stems from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; specifically, the struggles in our economy and the struggles that many families continue to endure when it comes to paying their bills. This new legislation will ensure that banking customers will not be charged excessive overdraft fees and will allow customers to hold onto more of their money.


How big of an impact will this new legislation have on our economy going forward? 



                                   



Thursday, August 12, 2021

Will NY Governor Hochul End the Employer Wage Theft Loophole?

One of the first decisions that Governor Hochul will likely have when she is sworn in should be relatively simple. 


The new Governor should sign S858, which was delivered to the Governor on August 9, 2021, and which amends Labor Law 193 to stop employers from utilizing a narrow definition of deductions to steal wages. The amendment states "THERE IS NO EXCEPTION TO LIABILITY UNDER THIS SECTION FOR THE UNAUTHORIZED FAILURE TO PAY WAGES, BENEFITS OR WAGE SUPPLEMENTS."


As background, the Labor Law authorizes employees to sue to recover "unpaid wages, attorney's fees, and in many cases liquidated damages" for violations of Article 6 of the Labor Law. However, oddly enough, Article 6 does not contain any express obligation to pay wages. Rather, the Labor Law requires timely payment of minimum wage overtime, etc. Employees have used Section 193 ("Deductions from Wages") to try to recover for an employer's complete failure to pay wages with mixed results because Section 193 applies to unlawful deductions from wages, not a failure to pay full wages or an employer, for example, unilaterally reducing an employee's wages for a given pay period for poor performance (not technically considered a "deduction"). Employees, thus, are often left to proceed under a cause of action for breach of contract, which does not permit recovery of liquidated damages and attorneys fees. This new proposed law, which the new Governor should sign, clears up any confusion by clarifying that any non-payment is a deduction and damages are recoverable, including attorneys' fees.


According to the Bill's justification, "employees must be paid what they are owed, no matter what."


If you haven't been paid, you have 6 years under the Labor Law to pursue your wages.


Have you been paid everything that you are owed? If not, you should contact an employment attorney.







Friday, August 06, 2021

New NYS Law Prohibits HOAs from Restricting Solar Installations

As of October 1, 2021, Homeowners Associations will no longer be permitted to blanketly block unit owners from installing solar panels in their full discretion. 


A new NYS law, S2997, prohibits restrictions with "unreasonable limitations" on solar installation, including:


  • Inhibiting solar from functioning at maximum efficiency; and 
  • Increasing solar installation or maintenance costs by more than 10% of total cost of initial installation of SPS.

The new law also requires HOAs to detail the basis for any solar installation rejection. 

Further, the new law includes a private right of action to sue HOAs who violate the law. 

As a result, HOAs better update their House Rules and policies immediately to avoid being sued. 

Did your Board update your policies yet? 







Thursday, August 05, 2021

New NYS Law Changes Voting Requirements for Nonprofits Consolidation, Mergers, & Dissolution

A new NYS law is about to make it much harder for a nonprofit to consolidate, merge, or dissolve. 


Previously, only a simple majority vote was required, but effective 10/31/2021, S3265 will require a two-thirds vote.


Clearly, this new legislation will make it much harder for not-for-profit corporations to consolidate, merge, or dissolve.


Do you agree that nonprofits should have to go through a bigger hurdle to dissolve? 





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...