LIEB BLOG

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

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? 




Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Leslie Mendoza, Esq. quoted in Newsday Article about Foreclosure Moratorium

Take a read of Maura McDermott's latest article in Newsday, "NY's COVID-19 foreclosure ban is set to expire, but homeowners can still get help," where she quotes our very own Leslie Mendoza, Esq.


Leslie explains that while the "[t]he state’s temporary foreclosure ban 'merely delays any kind of discussion between the borrower and the lender in terms of resolving the delinquencies,' the CFPB rule should help many homeowners get a modified loan, as long as they qualify for one."


To learn more about whether you qualify, read the article and always speak to a great lawyer.




Landlords with Elevators - What do you do for disabled people during outages?

The MTA needs to explain what reasonable accommodations it made for passengers with disabilities to access the subways during its frequent and inconvenient elevator outages according to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Brooklyn Ctr. for Indep. of the Disabled v. Metro. Transp. Auth.


This raises an important question for all landlords - what do you do to provide access for disabled people when your elevators don't work? 


According to the Court, "[a]n “accommodation must overcome . . . non-trivial temporal delays that limit access to programs, services, and activities.” 


While the the MTA offered accommodations such as busing alternatives, notice of outages, and permanent signage explaining alternative routes, the Second Circuit said that wasn't enough to summarily dismiss the case.


Have you audited your accommodation offerings recently? If not, you should. 





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.







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. 




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? 




Thursday, July 08, 2021

New Law Extends Tax Exemption for Certain Multiple Dwellings and Government-Assisted Projects

A new NYS law amends Real Property Tax Law section 489, extending tax exemptions for multiple dwellings undergoing alterations and improvements to eliminate fire and health hazards, from 2021 to 2022.


A multiple dwelling means a "dwelling that is either rented, leased, let or hired out, to be occupied, or is occupied as the residence or home of 3 or more families living independently of each other." (Multiple Dwelling Law Section §4 (7)). 


Fire and health hazards that qualify for the exemptions include non-fireproof stairs, windows, elevator shafts, dumbwaiters, fire-escapes, as well as a lack of direct entrance to the cellar or lowest story of a multiple dwelling.


If you own / manage a multiple dwelling and haven't started a project yet, you better act now before it's too late. 





Thursday, July 01, 2021

Court Rules Short Term Injuries Now Qualify As Disabilities Under ADA

Many more disability lawsuits are anticipated after the 2nd Circuit ruled that temporary injuries qualify as disabilities under ADA. 


An injury that only lasts 19 days can constitute a qualifying disability for purposes of a failure-to-accommodate claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Hamilton v. Westchester Cnty


For background, disabled individuals have a legal right to demand a reasonable accommodation from rules, policies, and procedures so that they can have equal access to public services, enjoyment of property, and opportunities at work. 


When disabled individuals are denied rightfully requested accommodations, lawsuits happen for big $$. 


When disabled individuals aren't provided with a forum to negotiate an accommodation, known as the interactive process, lawsuits happen for big $$. 


When disabled individuals aren't even provided with an opportunity to request an accommodation in the first place (such as by a form or notice), lawsuits happen for big $$. 


Simply, disability discrimination law is a really big deal, with big numbers at stake, to employers and property owners / managers. In fact, 26% of US adults have some sort of disability according to the CDC. As a result, every employer and property owner / manager must understand this new change in the law. 


Before this case, it was unclear in the Second Circuit, which controls NY, CT, & VT, whether an individual with a short-term disability from an injury could qualify for an accommodation under the law. 


Now, we know that they qualify. 


While the case before the Circuit Court was about an inmate at the Westchester County Jail, who claimed a denial of an opportunity to participate in or benefit from services, programs, or activities, under Title II of the ADA, the takeaway is that temporary disabilities can trigger the protections of the ADA under all three of its Titles, including:

  • Title I - Employment & Hiring
  • Title II - Public Services, Programs, & Activities
  • Title III - Public Accommodations (i.e., commercial property & websites) 


It is clear that the Circuit Court intended all three Titles to apply to temporary disabilities because it expressly based its decision on the 2008 ADA Amendments Act, which broadened the definition of "disability" under the ADA to include temporary or Transitory injuries. In so reasoning, the Circuit Court pointed to 28 CFR 25.108(d)(ix) (i.e., the regulations to the ADA) to find that a "'disability' shorter than six months in duration now can be actionable under the ADA." 


Now, all employers, property owners, brokers, property managers, and governmental officials in NY, CT, & VT better adjust their policies and afford rights to those disabled from injuries (even really short-term injuries) or they are going to get sued?


Have you ever been denied your rights to have policies adjusted to enable you to have the full enjoyment of life, which was otherwise problematic because of your disability?

Shouldn't disabled people be given every benefit to fully enjoy life?

This is good law.