LIEB BLOG

How current events impact business & real estate

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Facing Covid Mandates at Work. Legal analysis with Attorney Andrew Lieb.

Vaccines vs. Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs - First Round Goes to Religion

The Federal Court for the Northern District of New York has enjoined vaccine mandates based upon sincerely held religious beliefs by way of issuing a Temporary Restraining Order in the case of Dr. A v. Hochul.  


Here is how the plaintiffs' argued that the vaccine violate their sincerely held religious beliefs - "vaccines [] were tested, developed or produced with fetal cells line derived from procured abortions." According to the plaintiffs:

 Johnson & Johnson/Janssen: Fetal cell cultures are used to produce and manufacture the J&J COVID-19 vaccine and the final formulation of this vaccine includes residual amounts of the fetal host cell proteins (≤0.15 mcg) and/or host cell DNA (≤3 ng).

 Pfizer/BioNTech: The HEK-293 abortion-related cell line was used in research related to the development of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

 Moderna/NIAID: Aborted fetal cell lines were used in both the development and testing of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Further, plaintiffs religious beliefs are that they "oppose abortion under any circumstances, as they believe that abortion is the intrinsically evil killing of an innocent" and follow "spiritual leaders... who urge Christians to refuse said vaccines to avoid cooperation in abortion and to bear witness against it without compromise" and finally, their "religious conviction [is] against involuntary or coerced vaccination as an invasion of bodily autonomy contrary to their religious beliefs."


To be clear, the case is far from over with the next court deadline for the defendants to respond being set at September 22, 2021 at 5pm. As of this moment, no preliminary injunction or permanent injunction has been ordered. At this stage, the court has merely granted a temporary restraining order, which prohibits the denial of "religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination" until round two of the case.


However, if you are the type of person who has a sincerely held religious belief against vaccination, you should use this case as your blueprint to request an accommodation.




 


 

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? 




Attorney Dennis Valet quoted in Newsday | Dismissal of Complaint Against Real Estate Agent Facing Charges

Lieb at Law, P.C. 's working relationship and history of collaboration with the Department of State's Division of Licensing Services led open and frank discussions between the prosecutor and defense counsel, resulting in a mutual understanding that voluntary dismissal of the complaint against a real estate agent facing charges.

The full article is published in Newsday: https://www.newsday.com/business/housing-bias-discrimination-real-estate-agents-long-island-divided-1.50356898?utm_source=appshare



Thursday, September 09, 2021

NY Legal Podcast Does In-depth Analysis On Why Landlords Statewide Can Evict Tenants Even With The Eviction Ban

"The Lieb Cast" (a New York based legal podcast hosted by Attorney Andrew Lieb and Lauren Lieb) has featured an entire episode devoted to New York's eviction moratorium (which gives landlords options to pursue evictions or get paid through governmental rent relief). "The Lieb Cast" discusses why landlords can still sue for a money judgment in supreme court. In addition, the podcast explores residential and commercial distinctions for evictions, plus the foreclosure moratoriums in New York.

"NYS landlords can and should file evictions. The new moratorium does not totally prevent evictions and if you file, you will either be able to proceed with the eviction or your tenant will be directed by the court to get government money to pay your rent". Said Andrew Lieb, Co-Host of The Lieb Cast.

 

Podcast Link: https://www.listentolieb.com/876124/9130411-ny-landlords-can-evict-tenants-even-with-the-eviction-ban-here-is-what-you-need-to-know

About The Lieb Cast

Business success takes hard work, but physical hustle can only get you so far. You also need to work out your mind to succeed today. Join Andrew Lieb's weekly podcast to explore how current events impact your business and real estate holdings. This podcast is for business owners and managers who want to stay up to date with the latest legislation and regulations that will impact their business. Learn how to navigate these laws to avoid getting sued, grow and market your business, manage employees, and strategize to dominate our ever-changing business world.

Andrew Lieb is a litigator, corporate trainer, author, real estate school owner, and entrepreneur. He is joined on the air by Lauren Lieb, his wife and business partner, to present this educational and personal podcast. They coach their listeners to business greatness and entertain you with a ton of fun, sarcasm, wit, and banter. Search "Lieb Cast" on any podcast player.



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? 





Thursday, September 02, 2021

NYS Eviction Ban Has Been Extended to January 15, 2022 – What Should Landlords Do Now?

The NYS Legislature passed Senate Bill 50001 and 50002, extending the state’s eviction / foreclosure moratoria to January 15, 2022, and both bills were signed by Governor Kathy Hochul on September 2, 2021.

What’s in the Law?
Briefly, the laws:
  • Extend residential and commercial eviction and foreclosure moratoria to January 15, 2022;
  • Expand eviction protections for tenants under the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CERAP);
  • Create a due process mechanism for a landlord to challenge a tenant’s Hardship Declaration;
  • Direct judges to require residential tenants to apply for CERAP if their hardship claim is determined to be valid;
  • Extend the period covered by the Tenant Safe Harbor Act to January 15, 2022; and
  • Increase funding for CERAP, Hardship Fund, and legal services for tenants facing evictions.

Moving Forward:
Landlords should demand hearings and challenge their tenants’ hardship claims, which is the trigger for the moratoria to apply. Unlike the prior version of the law, which was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Chrysafis v. Marks, a tenant can no longer decide for himself / herself whether the law is applicable. Specifically, landlords may now file a motion with an attestation of the landlords’ good faith belief that the tenant has not experienced a hardship. Then, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the tenant’s hardship claim is valid. If it’s deemed invalid by the court, then the eviction proceeding can proceed. If it’s deemed valid by the court, then the eviction is stayed until January 15, 2022, but the court will order the tenant to apply for CERAP so that the landlord is paid rent.

What is CERAP?
Tenants may apply for CERAP voluntary, or under court order. Under CERAP, Landlords receive up to 12 months of rental arrears and up to 3 months of future rent.

Eligible tenants are:
  1. Tenants or occupants obligated to pay rent in their primary NYS residence;
  2. Individuals who have qualified for unemployment or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due – directly or indirectly – to the COVID-19 outbreak;
  3. Tenants who demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; AND
  4. Tenants who have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income, adjusted for household size.

If a tenant is approved for rental assistance under CERAP, the money goes directly to the landlord. However, landlords who accept CERAP payments, must:
  • Not use any prior arrears as a basis for a nonpayment eviction proceeding;
  • Waive late fees;
  • Not increase monthly rent due 1 year from the date the first CERAP payment is received; and
  • Not evict based on an expired lease for a period of 12 months after the first CERAP payment is received, UNLESS the property is in a building with 4 or fewer units, and in which case, the landlord may decline to extend the lease only if the landlord or his immediate family intends to immediately occupy the unit for personal use as a primary residence.

Nonetheless, landlords who accept CERAP may still commence evictions against tenants who:
  • Intentionally cause significant damage to the property;
  • Persistently and unreasonably engage in behavior that substantially infringes on the use and enjoyment of other tenants or occupants; or
  • Causes a substantial safety hazard to others.

What should landlords do now?
Start an eviction proceeding and challenge the hardship, which will either result in CERAP money or permission to continue the eviction process. Alternatively, if a landlord does not have a good faith basis to challenge the hardship or does not want to be restricted by the program’s requirements, then, a landlord should bring a breach of contract lawsuit in NYS Supreme Court against their non-paying tenants, as explained by the federal courts in Elmsford Apartment Associates LLC v. Cuomo.



Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Podcast: NYC v. Montana - Polar Opposite Vaccine Mandates

Episode 208 of The Lieb Cast.


Stop complaining about governmental vaccine rules for where you work and where you go. Just live in the right place for you. We explain NYC's vaccine rules to participate in everything and Montana's new anti-discrimination law that prohibits changing opportunities based on vaccination status. 


Search "The Lieb Cast" on any podcast player. 



Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Emergency Regulation Released to Guide Employers on Immediately Complying with NY HERO Act

As previously reported on this Blog,  the New York Health and Essential Rights Act ("NY HERO Act") requires employers to take various measures to protect employees in the event of a future airborne infectious disease outbreak.  An "emergency regulation"  and "proposed final regulation" was recently released to clarify and implement certain requirements contained in the NY HERO ACT so employers are prepared in the event the NY Health Commissioner designates an airborne infectious disease as highly contagious. 


Specifically, the regulation designated as 12 NYCRR 840.1, entitled "Airborne Infections Disease Exposure Prevention Standard" requires employers to:


  • Establish a written exposure prevention plan designed to eliminate or minimize employee exposure in the event of an outbreak of an airborne infectious disease;
  • Update exposure prevention plans whenever necessary to reflect new or modified tasks which affect occupational exposure and to reflect new or modified employee assignments;
  • Make exposure prevention plans available, upon requests, to all employees;
  • Select and obtain appropriate exposure controls appropriate for exposure risks (i.e. health screenings, masks, distancing, hygiene, etc.); and 
  • Prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under an employer's exposure prevention plan. 

Do you agree with this proposed final regulation? 


To make your voice heard, comments should be sent to Michael Paglialonga, Department of Labor, at regulations@labor.ny.gov, by November 2, 2021. 





Friday, August 27, 2021

Evictions Evictions - Get Your Evictions - US Supreme Court Opens the Floodgates

On August 27, 2021, the US Supreme Court opened the floodgates for evictions throughout the United States in the case of Alabama Association of Realtors v. DHHS


Landlords, have you called your attorney yet to start the eviction process? 

Investors, are you ready for the housing market to swing because of a flood of inventory? 

Tenants, have you started to make moving arrangements and tried to settle your arrears for less money? 


Wow, can you feel that tsunami coming? 


Make no mistake, this is the first domino to fall in our housing market's shift into a buyer's market on fundamentals. Are you ready? 


For the legal context of what transpired, the CDC had issued a moratorium on evictions in counties with substantial or high levels of COVID-19, which we explained here. That moratorium was thrown-out by the District Court for the District of Columbia, but that Court knew that the issue would get to the Supreme Court so they stayed (a/k/a, paused) the effectiveness of their Order overturning the moratorium until the Supreme Court could weigh-in, which we explained here. Now, the Supreme Court has weighed-in and the eviction moratorium is ineffective, unlawful, and unenforceable. 


To be clear, the Supreme Court did not weigh-in on the policy of an eviction moratorium. They didn't rule as to whether it is a good idea, good policy, or needed for our country. Instead, the Supreme Court ruled "that the statute on which the CDC relies does not grant it the authority it claims." In plain language, the eviction moratorium was thrown-out because the CDC's basis for imposing the moratorium does not afford it that power.


You see, Executive Branch agencies, like the CDC, can't do whatever they want. They need power before they act, which comes from Congress. Without that power, they can't do anything. They can't issue regulations, rules, or directives. This power, called an enabling statute, was missing from the eviction moratorium, according to the Supreme Court, which explained that the power relied upon by the CDC was meant "to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination," not eviction moratoriums. According to the Supreme Court, "our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends." 


Knowing that, you should be wondering if Congress will act and impose its own eviction moratorium? 


For landlords, investors, and tenants that is a really important question given that the Supreme Court acknowledged, in its decision, that "[a]t least 80% of the country, including between 6 and 17 million tenants at risk of eviction, [fell] within the moratorium." 


However, we doubt that Congress will issue another moratorium because it can't get anything done with its division in the Senate. Further, the Supreme Court reminded Congress, in its decision, that a federal "moratorium intrudes into an area that is the particular domain of state law: the landlord-tenant relationship." 


As a result, evictions are about to flood the court systems. Are you ready for the eviction tsunami?