How current events impact business & real estate

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Planning to Profit Off the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill? You Better Start Your Anti-Discrimination Trainings Today

According to the current version of the INVEST in America Act, which passed the Senate on August 10, 2021, all "contractors and subcontractors utilized in carrying out activities funded under title 23, United States Code, should institute respectful workplace policies and provide effective, ongoing workplace training to create safe, respectful work sites that are free from bullying, hazing, discrimination, or harassment." 

For clarity, title 23 of the United States Code is the law about highways. So, if you plan on working on the highways, anti-discrimination trainings must start now!

Do you think that this should be part of the law?

Is anti-discrimination training needed?

Either way, this is a signal that discrimination lawsuits are happening with increased frequency. So, protect yourself today and learn the law. 

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

CDC's Latest Eviction Moratorium - Applies to Counties with Red / Orange COVID on Map

On August 3, 2021, CDC issued its latest eviction moratorium to address the rise of the Delta variant. 

Here is what landlords and tenants need to know about the moratorium:

    1. It only applies to residential housing;
    2. The moratorium only applies where tenant(s) provide a declaration to their landlord(s);
    3. The Declaration is available here;
    4. The Declaration requires a sworn statement that the tenant(s):
        1. Have used best efforts to obtain all available governmental assistance; 
        2. Earned <=$99,000 in Calendar Year 2020 ($198,000 if filing jointly) with other financial options to qualify;
        3. Can't pay full rent because of stated work issues;
        4. Making best efforts to pay as much as possible of rent; 
        5. Would likely be homeless as a result of eviction; &
        6. Resides in substantial / high COVID county.
    5. Evictions are permitted for the following reasons:
        1. Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises;
        2. Threatening the health or safety of other residents;
        3. Damaging or posing an immediate & significant risk of damage to property;
        4. Violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health & safety; or
        5. Violating any other contractual obligation (other than rent payment). 
    6. Criminal penalties for violating this moratorium include a fine of <=$100,000 or one year in jail or both (<=$200,000 for organizations that violate the order). 

The counties subject to this Order can be found here - remember, the county must be an orange (substantial) or red (high) county for the moratorium to be applicable.

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? 

Monday, August 02, 2021

Lieb Quoted in Newsday Article on Section 8 Vouchers & Discrimination

Check out Maura McDermott's Newsday article, Ruling: Suffolk complex broke law spurning Section 8 housing vouchers.

In the article, I'm quoted as saying that "Starting in September, a new state law requires state agencies and nonprofits that administer housing subsidies to give recipients written notice about their fair-housing rights" and that "fair-housing enforcement has become a higher priority at the local, state and federal level, which he said was prompted by Newsday’s 2019 Long Island Divided project, a three-year investigation into housing bias."

The article is about how Long Island Housing Services filed suit after "its testers were told the complex did not accept federal housing-choice subsidies, also known as Section 8 vouchers."

Do you think we should have more testers in society to route out housing discrimination?

Who should pay for these testers?

In the article, it said that Long Island Housing Services paid $23,855 for the testors - that's a lot of $$$

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.