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Showing posts with label housing stability and tenant protection act of 2019. Show all posts
Showing posts with label housing stability and tenant protection act of 2019. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Court Finds that Landlord's Agent CAN be Sued for Charging Brokerage Fee to Tenant under HSTPA

Can a landlord's agent charge a tenant its commission?

That issue is going to be decided by the New York County Supreme Court in the case of McLendon v. Kelley after the court refused to dismiss the case, but the case should already be dismissed under the Court's own reasoning.

The law that the tenant is relying on in this case to block the fee charge is called The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) and specifically, Real Property Law 238-a(1)(a), which states as follows:

Except in instances where statutes or regulations provide for a payment, fee or charge, no landlord, lessor, sub-lessor or grantor may demand any payment, fee, or charge for the processing, review or acceptance of an application, or demand any other payment, fee or charge before or at the beginning of the tenancy, except background checks and credit checks as provided by paragraph (b) of this subdivision, provided that this subdivision shall not apply to entrance fees charged by continuing care retirement communities licensed pursuant to article forty-six or forty-six-A of the public health law, assisted living providers licensed pursuant to article forty-six-B of the public health law, adult care facilities licensed pursuant to article seven of the social services law, senior residential communities that have submitted an offering plan to the attorney general, or not-for-profit independent retirement communities that offer personal emergency response, housekeeping, transportation and meals to their residents.

In refusing to dismiss the case on this law, the Court focused on the Department of State's Guidance on the topic wherein the Department had opined "that a broker for the landlord could not collect a broker fee from a perspective tenant pursuant to the above provision." However, the Court's reasoning is in error and the broker should bring a motion to reargue / renew this application for dismissal.

Operatively, the Department of State's Guidance was withdrawn on February 10, 2020 and therefore it holds no weight in this case. To substantiate this withdrawal of Guidance, see the notation at question 5. on page 4 of this hyperlink.

More importantly, in Real Estate Bd. of New York v. New York State Department of State, the Judge issued a full injunction preventing the statute from being utilized against brokers until the Court issues a decision on REBNY's Order to Show Cause, which has not yet occurred. 

This case should therefore be dismissed.

 



Friday, February 07, 2020

Recent Legal Matters CE Course & DOS Guidance on Paying Landlord's Agents

Last night, 2/6/2020, we were thrilled to have a packed house attending our new CE - Recent Legal Matters.

Image may contain: 10 people, people sitting and indoor

While not specifically a course topic, the DOS Guidance's Additional FAQs (updated: 1/31/2020) was brought up by students. Specifically, students inquired about FAQ #5:
5. CAN A LANDLORD’S AGENT COLLECT A “BROKER FEE” FROM THE PROSPECTIVE TENANT? No, a landlord’s agent cannot be compensated by the prospective tenant for bringing about the meeting of the minds. NY RPL § 238-a(1)(a) provides, in part, “no landlord, lessor, sub-lessor or grantor may demand any payment, fee, or charge for the processing, review or acceptance of an application, or demand any other payment, fee or charge before or at the beginning of the tenancy, except background checks and credit checks….” The fee to bring about the meeting of the minds would be a “payment, fee or charge before or at the beginning of the tenancy” other than a background or credit check as provided in this section. Accordingly, a landlord’s agent that collects a fee for bringing about the meeting of the minds between the landlord and tenant (i.e., the broker fee) from the tenant can be subject to discipline. 
What good timing for this to come up because our course materials included an explanation of the requirements for an agency (DOS) to issue a regulation, which were not undertaken with respect to this Guidance. As such, the Guidance is NOT law, but, instead an agency's interpretation of law. With respect to the Guidance constituting an interpretation rather than law, we explained how and when an agency's interpretation is given deference by the courts who are the co-equal branch of government with the constitutional authority to be the final voice on interpreting statutes (laws). Incident thereto, we shared the following quotes from case law with our students:
It is well settled that “[a]n agency's interpretation of its own regulation ‘is entitled to deference if that interpretation is not irrational or unreasonable’” &
“the question is one of pure statutory reading and analysis, dependent only on accurate apprehension of legislative intent, there is little basis to rely on any special competence or expertise of the  administrative agency and its interpretive regulations... And, of course, if the regulation runs counter to the clear wording of a statutory provision, it should not be accorded any weight.”
Oh, do we expect a legal battle on this issue. Stay tuned. It's going to get entertaining fast.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Co-op Purchaser Application Fees Eliminated by Tenant Protection Act?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Summary of the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 for General Landlord/Tenant Practice