Legal Analysts

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Foreclosure Tsunami Coming - Litigation Checklist

The moratorium on foreclosures expires on August 20th (EO 202.28) and a foreclosure tsunami is coming.

According to CNBC, "32% of U.S. households missed their July housing payments" based on a survey by Apartment List, which also advises that 17% of "homeowners [are] concerned about foreclosure."

To prepare for the tsunami, we are giving you our 10-Point Inspection Checklist to evaluate a foreclosure case. Whether we are representing the lender or the borrower, we utilize this list to evaluate the strength of the case, which, when coupled with an evaluation of the borrower's current mortgage terms (i.e., L/V ratio front end/back end, interest rate, principal, interest to date, penalties, attorneys' fees, months of missed payments, prior modifications/forbearances, etc.) is how we assess whether a modification, or other workout, should be considered.

10 Point Inspection Checklist:

  1. Standing of plaintiff (owner / holder of note on date of commencement or authorized agent of such owner / holder pursuant to Pooling and Servicing Agreement or other agreement)
  2. Record admissibility (swearing to business records of another entity; failure to attach business records to affidavits)
  3. RPAPL 1303 / 1304 / 1305 / 1306 compliance
  4. Acceleration / Deacceleration (statute of limitations) 
  5. Notices tendered in satisfaction of note terms
  6. Lis Pendens filing
  7. Payment history for default calculations / date (requisite missed months for default requirement in note / aligned with notices / statute of limitations)
  8. Default on Answer with time since settlement conference for late answer availability
  9. Service / personal jurisdiction issues
  10. Pleadings requirements (Certificate of Merit - CPLR 3012-B, RPAPL 1302)

In our upcoming Real Estate Investing shows, WRCN / FM 103.9 / Sundays at Noon, we will be breaking down this list into plain English and showing you how to litigate foreclosure cases whether you are the lender or the borrower.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

NY's Eviction Moratorium is Constitutional - Read What Else the Court Tells Us

If you are a NYS landlord, you MUST read the decision from the case Elmsford Apartment Associates LLC v. Cuomo if you want to be on the top of your game.

We aren't going to discuss the results, beyond saying the Court ruled that Governor Cuomo can legally suspend evictions and more during a pandemic.

We focus on these other gems given to us by the Court - Every property investor (landlord, property manager, broker, flipper, etc.) should read and accept this reality before getting into the investment game:
Evicting a tenant – especially a residential tenant – in New York is a slow, cumbersome and extremely tenant-favorable process, especially when compared to analogous procedures in other states.
Governor Cuomo did nothing to impede the commencement of holdover proceedings… Nor does EO 202.28 suspend[] the landlords’ right to initiate a common law breach of contract action in the New York State Supreme Court to redress a tenant’s failure to perform its payment obligations under his or her lease.
Tenants will continue to accrue arrearages, which the landlord will be able to collect with interest once the Order has expired.
One who chooses to engage in a publicly regulated business… by so doing surrenders his right to unfettered discretion as to how to conduct same.
The expected costs of foreseeable future regulation are already presumed to be priced into the contracts formed under the prior regulation
New York landlords do not enjoy a constitutional right to realize a profit from their rental properties – let alone all the profits contemplated in each of their individual rental agreements.
If the tenant uses the security deposit to pay a month’s rent, and the tenancy ends before the deposit is fully replenished, the landlord can obtain a judgment for the amount expended in repairs.
A special shout-out to the eviction explanation -
To secure an eviction warrant from the housing courts, a New York landlord must serve the tenant a notice of nonreceipt of payment, and give the tenant one final chance to pay by making a demand of payment within 14 days. If the landlord is still owed payment after two weeks have passed, he may commence what is known as a summary proceeding by filing a petition in the civil court, returnable by the tenant within 10 days. If the tenant does not respond in ten days, the court may (but rarely does) issue an eviction warrant immediately. However, if the tenant does respond, however, a trial is set for eight days hence. The trial may be adjourned up to ten additional days if the parties so require in order to produce their witnesses. If, after trial, a judgment is entered for the landlord and the court issues a warrant for eviction, the Sheriff must give the tenant 14 days’ notice in writing prior to execution. There are the usual provisions for appeal and stays issue routinely so that non-defaulting tenants are not evicted before their cases are fully reviewed. But even if the evidence supports a judgment for the landlord, the housing court is not required to order the tenant’s immediate eviction. A tenant may obtain a stay of the issuance of the warrant for up to one year by showing that ‘it would occasion extreme hardship to the tenant or the tenant’s family if the stay were not granted’. Such stays are far from uncommon.
Still think that being a landlord is for you?

This hasn't diminished our motivation to invest in real estate, but as the Court makes clear - we respect the rules and adjust our prices / reserves to account for more rules in the future.

Some years there are less rules and other years there are more, but we know that a keen understanding of the rules will make us profitable as property investors.

If you want profitability too, you need to increase your compliance budget immediately and respect the rules of the game because, as you can see, fighting the governor's office is a losing battle.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Are You Ready to Reopen Your Business? Here is Your 5-Step Plan

5-Step Plan to Reopen Your Long Island Business

We are reopening throughout Long Island!

Phase 2 is Wednesday - Are you ready to open your business?  

Reopening isn’t just going back to work – there are 5 steps that businesses must take to open their doors if they want to avoid legal troubles.

Step 1. Review the applicable guidance for reopening & affirm that you will comply.

Each industry has tailored guidelines from NYS DOH, which represents the minimum requirements for you to reopen.
Before you open your doors, you MUST affirm that you have read the guidelines at this link.
Guidance for your industry can be located here.

Step 2. Formulate a business safety plan.

Each business MUST develop a written safety plan to prevent the spread of COVID.

The plan must be retained on the premises of the businesses and made available for inspection by DOH or your local health and safety authorities (zoning) upon request.

The sample plan provided by NYS is 7 pages long and includes a daily mandatory health screening assessment for employees and essential visitors, a requirement to record a log of all those physically present at the premises, cleaning requirements, and much more.

Start writing your plan now in compliance with the law if you plan to reopen.

Step 3. Create logbooks to comply and maintain policies.

You need to create forms to implement your plan. You need the health screening assessment developed, a logbook for cleaning, and a logbook for visitors. These can be inspected by DOH and other authorities so they better exist before you open your doors.

Step 4. Floor markings and PPE.

You are required to provide your entire team with PPE so it’s time to start ordering supplies yesterday. Plus, you need to place signage and floor markings throughout your premises to maintain proper social distancing. So, take out your tape and measuring stick to get going.

Step 5. Craft your message.

Your team and your customers need to understand your plan and how it impacts them, or they won’t follow it. So, you need to create a message, start getting it out there via email and make it available to everyone at your business. This message must explain your safety plan and the new policies that you will enforce for the rest of COVID. Getting buy-in is the key to proper implementation and protecting you from suit and negative PR.

Here is a radio clip with our employment lawyer, Mordy Yankovich, discussing how to comply and protect your business when you are ready to reopen – have a listen - Real Estate Investing with Andrew Lieb 6/7/20 - Seg 3: Advice for Phase 2 Business Owners Reopening.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Commercial Personal Guaranties Deemed Unenforceable in NYC Council’s COVID-19 Relief Bill – Litigation to Follow if Enacted

On May 13, 2020, the NYC Council approved Int. No. 1932-A, which makes substantial changes to personal guaranties in commercial leases. The bill is on the Mayor’s desk to be enacted.

The bill’s purpose is to provide relief to NYC commercial tenants impacted by COVID-19. It temporarily prohibits the enforcement of personal liability provisions in commercial leases or rental agreements. It would amend the Administrative Code of the City of New York by adding Section 22-1005 and adding Paragraph 14 to Subdivision a of section 22-902 of the NYC Administrative Code.

If enacted, the bill would render guarantee provisions unenforceable against natural persons who are not a tenant in commercial leases or other rental real property. The law would only impact liability for the payment of rent and other charges caused by an occurrence of default, and subject to the following conditions:
1. The tenant must satisfy at least one of the following:
a)     The tenant was required to cease serving patrons food or beverage for on-premises consumption or to cease operation under EO 202.3;
b)     The tenant was a non-essential retail establishment subject to in-person limitations under guidance issued by the NYS Department of Economic Development pursuant to EO 202.6; or
c)     The tenant was required to close to members of the public under EO 202.7; and

2. The default or other event which caused the natural person to become personally liable for such obligation occurred between March 7, 2020 and September 30, 2020, inclusive.

Under the bill, an attempt to enforce a personal liability provision that the landlord knows or reasonably should know is unenforceable, pursuant to the above, shall be deemed commercial tenant harassment, which could result in compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and court costs. See N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 22-903.

Sounds too good to be true for many tenants and often when it’s too good to be true, it’s untrue. Expect this law to be challenged on constitutional grounds should it be enacted. Specifically, the bill seems to impair the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution because it retroactively affects personal guaranties entered into prior to the bill’s passing. For such a claim to succeed, the initial inquiry under the impairment of contracts clause contains three components:
  1. Whether there is a contractual relationship;
  2. Whether a change in law impairs that contractual relationship; and
  3. Whether the impairment is substantial. U.S.C.A. Const. Art. 1, § 10, cl. 1; American Economy Ins. Co. v. State, 30 N.Y.3d 136 (2017).
While tenants will surely argue that the bill doesn’t substantially impair the parties’ contractual relationship, as the bill only covers rent and payments for the period of March 7, 2020 to September 30, 2020, landlords will counter that the personal guarantee was a material term of the lease and a substantial reason that the landlord agreed to enter into the contract.

For analogy, the Court of Appeals has previously struck down similar government interference in contacts. In Patterson v. Carey, the Court of Appeals struck down a law which curtailed toll authority bondholders’ ability to increase their tolls for Jones Beach State Parkway on constitutional grounds. 41 N.Y.2d 714 (1977). 

If the NYC bill passes, it would likely undergo similar challenges and review as the law in Patterson and be deemed unconstitutional. The bill’s impairment to contractual rights agreed upon by landlords and guarantors would be substantial, especially considering that the bill does not merely delay a landlord’s right to enforce the guarantee during the period stated in the bill, it extinguishes it altogether.

Mayor DeBlasio has until June 12, 2020 to either sign, veto, or do nothing. If the Mayor signs the bill or does nothing, the bill will automatically become law. If the Mayor vetoes the bill, it is sent back to the Council. The Council can then override the Mayor’s veto with a 2/3 vote.

In the meantime, both landlords and tenants should contact their attorneys to ensure that their interests are protected and to prepare for expected lawsuits to follow. For ideas on how to creatively resolve lease issues due to coronavirus and for tips on important lease provisions when renegotiating, listen to our podcasts HERE and HERE.

Friday, May 15, 2020

HGTV Stars Join Our Radio Show on 5/17/20

Nassau County Tax Map Certification Letter Fees Deemed Unconstitutional

Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Brown struck down Nassau County’s $355 fee to verify a property’s section, block and lot due to it being unlawful and unconstitutional.

In Falk v. Nassau County, the Plaintiff alleged that Nassau County excessive fees for tax map certification letters (TMCLs) as issued pursuant to Nassau County Administrative Code § 6-33.0. These TMCLs are issued by the Nassau County Department of Assessments and must be filed with real property documents when submitted to the Nassau County Clerk for recording. Plaintiff alleged that the fees are excessive and not reasonably necessary to maintain the County’s real property registry and such fees are taxes as their purpose really is for general revenue. In this regard, the Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment deeming Administrative Code § 6-33.0 unconstitutional because it is excessive and an unlawful tax.

Among other reasons, the court granted the Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and found the TMCL fees unconstitutional as it was established that its purpose was for general revenue purposes only and that the fee itself is “indisputably disproportionate to the cost associated with its issuance.” Further, the Court found that they are excessive and not tied to the County’s responsibility in maintaining its property registry nor were such fees assessed or estimated on the basis of studies or statistics.

Nassau County is expected to file an appeal to Judge Brown’s decision. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

New Bankruptcy Filing Procedures in relation to a COVID-19 Mortgage Forbearance

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic and Security (CARES) Act allows borrowers to request a forbearance on their mortgage. (You can read more about the CARES Act and mortgage forbearance requests in our article HERE.) As bankruptcy filings are expected to rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court system implemented a few system changes to their Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) Database in relation to borrowers who have requested a forbearance. These changes are effective May 11, 2020.

Specifically, a new bankruptcy event, “Notice of Mortgage Forbearance” was created to docket such event on the CM/ECF database. In addition to clicking such event, a question was also added to ask, “is a Notice of Mortgage Forbearance being filed with this filing?” in relation to established events on Notice of Mortgage Change. This change has been made to prevent filers from choosing the “Notice of Mortgage Change” event when only a forbearance has been obtained.

As the Court works towards streamlining and implementing a more efficient process, readers are advised to contact their counsel to ensure that the Court’s bankruptcy process and its recent changes be followed to a T to prevent any delays or other issues with filings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Podcast | Foreclosures & Mortgage Modifications - Perspective From The Lender

You can't just decide to stop paying your mortgage without consulting with your Lender. 

In Episode 42, Andrew and Lauren breakdown the cost/benefit analysis of whether you deserve a mortgage modification. We discuss foreclosure lawsuits, mortgage terms and what motivates a modification from your lenders perspective.

In Episode 43, From the initial phone call to the bank, we go through how to get a mortgage forbearance agreement and understand the terms before you find yourself with a much bigger problem. Bob Lund leads the residential lending department at Bethpage Federal Credit Union and shares insights from his perspective.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Podcast | Tips For Landlords To Renegotiate Lease Terms

Monday, April 27, 2020

Fair Housing Disclosure / Notice / Website Requirements - Effective June 20, 2020

Major NEW Fair Housing Regulations are effective June 20, 2020 according to the NYS Board of Real estate meeting that was held on April 27, 2020.

ALERT: Real estate brokers must implement trainings immediately on their salespersons distributing the new required disclosure form or risk both license law violations and lawsuits for discrimination. Lieb Compliance is ready to help.

The new disclosure regulation is 19 NYCRR 175.28:

a) A real estate broker shall be responsible to ensure that each individual licensed pursuant to Article 12-A of the New York Real Property Law and associated with such broker provides to a prospective purchaser, tenant, seller, or landlord upon first substantive contact a disclosure notice furnished by the Department, containing substantive provisions of the New York State Human Rights Law. The disclosure notice shall set forth how Human Rights Law complaints may be filed, and such other information as the Department deems pertinent.

b) The disclosure notice required pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, may be provided to a prospective purchaser, tenant, seller, or landlord by any of the following means: email, text, electronic messaging system, facsimile, or hardcopy. An electronic communication containing a link to the disclosure notice required pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section shall be permissible, provided the communication also contains text to inform the prospective purchaser, tenant, seller, or landlord that the link contains information regarding the New York State Human Rights Law. Oral disclosure does not satisfy the requirements imposed by this section.

c) The disclosure notice required by paragraph (a) of this section shall apply to all real property whether or not it is used or occupied, or intended to be used or occupied, wholly or partly, as a home or residence of one or more persons regardless of the number of units, and shall include: condominiums; cooperative apartments; vacant lands, including unimproved real property upon which such dwellings are to be constructed; or commercial properties.

d) A real estate broker, licensed real estate salesperson, or licensed associate broker that provides the disclosure notice required pursuant to this section by hardcopy, shall obtain a signed acknowledgment from the prospective buyer, tenant, seller, or landlord. Such signed disclosure notice shall be retained for not less than three years. A real estate broker, licensed real estate salesperson, or licensed associate broker that provides the disclosure notice required pursuant to this section by email, text, electronic messaging system, or facsimile, shall maintain a duplicate copy of such disclosure and shall retain the same for not less than three years. If the prospective buyer, tenant, seller, or landlord declines to sign the disclosure notice, the real estate broker, licensed real estate salesperson or licensed associate broker shall set forth under oath or affirmation a written declaration of the facts regarding when such notice was provided and shall maintain a copy of the declaration for not less than three years.

Interestingly, subsection (e) was deleted from 175.28 after public comment. Subsection (e) previously stated "[a] real estate broker shall be jointly liable for any violation of this section committed by any licensed individual associated with such broker." Our comment on the topic, given on January 21, 2020, was discussed at the NYS Board of Real Estate meeting on April 27, 2020.

We commented:
This subsection is superfluous, to an extent, and creates issues with regulatory construction as it indicates that a broker is not jointly and severally liable for other violations of 19 NYCRR 175 and as such, it should be stricken. I imagine the intended purpose is to clarify the impact of RPL 442-c on this regulation, but it should be further clarified as it's ripe for litigation the way it currently exists, as proposed.
As you can see, it's always important to participate in the regulatory process through comments. 

ALERT: Real estate brokers need to display this new notice in their offices & on their websites. Real estate brokers must audit their real estate salespersons' websites under this new regulation. Lieb Compliance is ready to help.

The new advertising regulation is 19 NYCRR 175.29:

a) A real estate broker shall display and maintain at every office and branch office operated by such broker a notice, furnished by the Department, indicating the substantive provisions of the New York State Human Rights Law relative to housing accommodations. The notice shall set forth
how Human Rights Law complaints may be filed and such other information as the Department deems pertinent.

b) The notice required by paragraph (a) of this section shall be prominently displayed in the window of such office and any branch office maintained by such broker if such broker also provides listings or other postings in the window of such location and must be visible to persons on that portion of the sidewalk adjacent to such office or branch office. If any office or branch office is not accessible from the sidewalk or if postings are otherwise prohibited by any other applicable law, then the notice
required pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section shall be prominently posted in the same location the business license is posted pursuant to subdivision 3 of section 441-a of article 12 of the Real Property Law.

c) All websites created and maintained by real estate brokers, associate real estate brokers, real estate salespersons and any real estate team, as such term is defined by section 175.25 of this title, shall prominently and conspicuously display on the homepage of such website a link to the Department’s notice as required by paragraph (a) of this section, which shall be made available by the Department.

d) A real estate broker, licensed real estate salesperson, or licensed associate broker shall have displayed at all open houses of all real property the notice required by paragraph (a) of this section. In addition, a real estate broker, licensed real estate agent, or licensed associate broker shall
have available at all open houses and showings of all real property the notice required by paragraph (a) of section 175.28 of this part.

Interestingly, subsection (e) was deleted from 175.29 after public comment. Subsection (e) previously stated "[a] real estate broker shall be jointly liable for any violation of this section committed by any licensed individual associated with such broker." Our comment on the topic, given on January 21, 2020, was discussed at the NYS Board of Real Estate meeting on April 27, 2020.

We commented:
This subsection is superfluous, to an extent, and creates issues with regulatory construction as it indicates that a broker is not jointly and severally liable for other violations of 19 NYCRR 175 and as such, it should be stricken. I imagine the intended purpose is to clarify the impact of RPL 442-c on this regulation, but it should be further clarified as it's ripe for litigation the way it currently exists, as proposed.
As you can see, it's always important to participate in the regulatory process through comments. 

Finally, real estate schools now have to record their fair housing trainings & Lieb School is already in compliance with the new regulation, 19 NYCRR 177.9:

(a) Every entity approved to provide instruction pertaining to fair housing and/or discrimination in the sale or rental of real property or an interest in real property shall cause a recording to be created of each course in its entirety. Such recording shall contain both video and audio of the instruction.

(b) The recording required by paragraph (a) of this section shall be maintained by the approved entity for at least one year following the date such course was provided to an enrolled student. If the entity knows or suspects that the recording is or will be the subject of litigation, then the approved entity shall maintain such recording as required by law.

(c) The recording required by paragraph (a) of this section may be subject to audit by the Department pursuant to section 177.11 of this part.

Friday, April 24, 2020

New SBA Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program and Good Faith Certifications

On April 23, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration issued new guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act, specifically concerning the SBA’s position on good faith certifications and limiting PPP funding to public companies.

All applicants and recipients of PPP funds should pay close attention to Question 31 of the SBA Guidance: 
31. Question: Do businesses owned by large companies with adequate sources of liquidity to support the business’s ongoing operations qualify for a PPP loan?

Answer: In addition to reviewing applicable affiliation rules to determine eligibility, all borrowers must assess their economic need for a PPP loan under the standard established by the CARES Act and the PPP regulations at the time of the loan application. Although the CARES Act suspends the ordinary requirement that borrowers must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere..., borrowers still must certify in good faith that their PPP loan request is necessary. Specifically, before submitting a PPP application, all borrowers should review carefully the required certification that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” Borrowers must make this certification in good faith, taking into account their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity sufficient to support their ongoing operations in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business. For example, it is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith, and such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to SBA, upon request, the basis for its certification. Lenders may rely on a borrower’s certification regarding the necessity of the loan request. Any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to the issuance of this guidance and repays the loan in full by May 7, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith (emphasis added).

While the SBA Guidance specifically mentions public companies and their good faith certifications, it is important to note that the good faith certification is required for ALL borrowers. This means that all borrowers should be prepared to demonstrate their basis for their good faith certification. Thus, to mitigate exposure, borrowers are urged to contact their counsel to prepare a paper trail of their loan application process, which should include at the very least any proof that the application is indeed necessary and the basis for all amounts stated on the application (e.g. payroll, projected losses, operating expenses).

For a further discussion on disclosure, listen to the podcast HERE.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Cuomo Extends Deadlines for Condominium Filing Requirements

Governor Cuomo has signed Executive Order 202.18 which extends deadlines for condominium offering plans, offering breathing room to developers. The deadlines for the following requirements have been tolled:

  • Requirement of filing an offering statement or prospective within 15 months of date of issue of the letter from the attorney general stating that the offering statement or prospectus has been accepted for filing is tolled until May 16, 2020 (see Section 352-eeee(2)(a) of the General Business Law);
  • Filing fees required at the time of submission and filing of each offering statement or prospectus also suspended until May 16, 2020 but payment must still be made to the department of law by August 14, 2020 (see Section 352-e(7)(a) of the General Business Law);
  • Requirement of Sponsor’s preparation of a budget for the first year of condominium operation is tolled until May 16, 2020. However, the Sponsor must update the first year of operation, as necessary, within 30 days from expiration of Executive Order. The Sponsor shall not be required to offer rescission, to the extent the first year’s budget for operation does not increase by 25% or more during the pendency of the state of disaster emergency (see 13 NYCRR §§ 18.3(g)(1), 20.3(h)(1), 23.3(h)(1)); and
  • Rule requiring a sponsor to offer rescission if the first closing of a unit does not occur within first year of operation is tolled until May 16, 2020, but the sponsor must update the first year of operation, as necessary, by June 15, 2020 (see 13 NYCRR § 20.3(o)(12)).

Monday, April 13, 2020

Employer Alert - Executive Order on Essential Businesses

On April 12, employers were ordered to provide their staff with face coverings.

The Executive Order 202.16 provides:
For all essential businesses or entities, any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees. This provision may be enforced by local governments or local law enforcement as if it were an order pursuant to section 12 or 12-b of the Public Health Law.  This requirement shall be effective Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.
Employers must get their face coverings now!!!

Interestingly, the order does not require a specific type of face covering so it's conceivable that even a homemade option would satisfy the requirement. However, try to get N95 masks if you can - safety first. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Spousal Refusal in Medicaid Planning

Do you need Medicaid and can’t wait for a 5-year lookback to qualify?

Then, consider Spousal Refusal, which with the Reverse Rule of Halves, represent 2 options to avoid the 5-year lookback requirements.

Spousal Refusal means that assets are transferred from the Medicaid applicant to such applicant’s spouse (the community spouse or the spouse not receiving Medicaid). Luckily, these transfers of assets to a spouse are exempt from the five-year look back period and thus, don’t trigger a penalty period.

Under Medicaid law, the community spouse can sign a Spousal Refusal which states that the community spouse refuses to make their income and resources available to the Medicaid applicant. This can be done especially when the community spouse may have assets over Medicaid’s allowable recourse limit or in excess of the income allowance.

In New York, Social Services Law §366(3)(a) provides that if the community spouse refuses or fails to provide the applicant with the necessary care and assistance, the medical assistance furnished to the applicant creates an implied contract with the community spouse. The cost of the medical assistance then may be recovered from the community spouse. However, this takes a lawsuit, which is often settled for far less than what was transferred, if the lawsuit is pursued in the first instance. Also, if repayment is pursued, the repayment rate is only based on the Medicaid reimbursement rate, which is significantly less than the private pay rate so there is very little to lose for a spouse to claim Spousal Refusal when they cannot plan in advance of the 5-year lookback.

Regardless, those needing Medicaid often have unique circumstances and everyone should get tailored legal advice on any strategy they seek to pursue before effectuating such strategy.

The Reverse Rule of Halves in Medicaid Planning

Medicaid provides a penalty period for the transfer of assets for less than its fair market value within 5-years of an individual’s application for Medicaid. The penalty is calculated by taking the amount of the transfer and dividing it by the average cost of one month of nursing home care in the region where the applicant resides.

A strategy used to maximize an applicant’s excess assets is the Reverse Rule of Halves. Essentially, this strategy allows the applicant to retain at least half of his excess assets and to become eligible for Medicaid sooner. When using this strategy, the Medicaid applicant gives 100% of their excess assets to a family member or multiple members. As this transfer may be a violation of Medicaid’s look back rule, a penalty period of Medicaid ineligibility will result. The family member, however, can return half of the gifted assets in installments back to the Medicaid applicant through a promissory note, so that the penalty period is also cut in half. The applicant, then, can use the returned assets to pay for care during the penalty period.

To utilize this strategy, the assets must be accessible either through a competent individual’s signature, joint ownership, or a Durable Power of Attorney. The return of assets will need to be done through a Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) compliant promissory note. To determine the value of assets that can be preserved with this strategy, the following factors are considered: 
  1. Total value of the applicant’s assets that constitutes excess resources for Medicaid purposes;
  2. Total monthly fixed income of the applicant;
  3. Actual private monthly cost of the nursing home that the applicant will be entering or is in; and
  4. Average monthly nursing home cost figure used by the Medicaid district in which the applicant resides to calculate transfer penalty periods.

While there is a specific procedure calculating the maximum amount, the amount gifted is usually approximately equal to the maximum value of assets that can be protected. To determine whether this applies to a specific applicant’s circumstances and to determine whether using the Reverse Rule of Halves is the best strategy for their specific needs, applicants are encouraged to retain counsel as early as possible.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Empire State Development Issues Guidance on Real Estate Services

On March 9, 2020, Executive Order 202.6 mandated non-essential businesses to reduce their in-person workforce by 50% and later, by 100%. Today, the Empire State Development (ESD) issued guidance on Executive Order 202.6 to further determine which businesses are considered essential.

What does the ESD Guidance mean for real estate professionals?

Lawyers are permitted to continue to perform all work necessary, as long as it is performed remotely. Any in-person work must be only for supporting essential businesses or services, with the caveat that such work should still be conducted as remotely as possible.

Real estate services, including but not limited to, title searches, appraisals, permitting, inspections, recording, legal, financial and other services necessary to complete the transfer of real property shall be conducted remotely for ALL transactions.
  • In-person services may be conducted only to the extent legally necessary and in accordance with appropriate social distancing and cleaning/disinfecting protocols.
  • Brokerage and branch offices may be opened only to clients.

With ESD’s Guidance, along with Executive Order 202.10 and 202.14 which authorized remote notarization and electronic witnessing for deeds (which we blogged about HERE and HERE), real estate professionals can get back to work and close some deals.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Deeds & Estate Documents - Electronic Witnessing Now Permitted

Through Executive Order 202.14 and effective from April 7, 2020 to May 7, 2020, the act of witnessing as required in signing a will, healthcare proxy, disposition of remains, recording of instruments regarding real property, power of attorney and living trusts may now be done through audio-video technology.

To do so, the following requirements must be satisfied:
  • The person requesting that their signature be witnessed, if not personally known to the witness(es), must present valid photo ID to the witness(es) during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;
  • The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the witness(es), and the supervising attorney, if applicable (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);
  • The witnesses must receive a legible copy of the signature page(s), which may be transmitted via fax or electronic means, on the same date that the pages are signed by the person;
  • The witness(es) may sign the transmitted copy of the signature page(s) and transmit the same back to the person; and
  • The witness(es) may repeat the witnessing of the original signature page(s) as of the date of execution provided the witness(es) receive such original signature pages together with the electronically witnessed copies within thirty days after the date of execution.

Similarly, video notarization has been permitted since March 19, 2020 through Executive Order 202.7, which we blogged about HERE.

This is one major step closer to remote real estate closings and estate planning.

Now, the NYS legislature needs to make this permanent and not let Coronavirus innovation be a wasted opportunity.

Are You at Risk to Exposure to COVID-19? Designate a Guardian with this Form

By Executive Order 202.14, Governor Cuomo has permitted the use of this form for "any parent, a legal guardian, a legal custodian, or primary caretaker who works or volunteers in a health care facility or who reasonably believes that they may otherwise be exposed to COVID-19... [to] designate a standby guardian" for their children:

Designation of Standby Guardian
(NOTE: As used in this form, the term “parent” shall include a parent, a court-appointed guardian of an infant's person or property, a legal custodian, or a primary caretaker, and the term “child(ren)” shall include the dependant infant of a parent, court-appointed guardian, legal custodian or primary caretaker
I _________________________ hereby designate 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________(name, home address and telephone number of standby guardian) as standby guardian of the person and property of my child(ren) (You may, if you wish, provide that the standby guardian's authority shall extend only to the person, or only to the property, of your child, by crossing out “person” or “property”, whichever is inapplicable, above.)

(name of child(ren)).

This appointment as the standby guardian of my child(ren) would be in the best interests of my child(ren) because:

(insert justification for appointment of this person as the standby guardian)

The standby guardian's authority shall take effect: (1) if my doctor concludes in writing that I am mentally incapacitated, and thus unable to care for my child(ren); (2) if my doctor concludes in writing that I am physically debilitated, and thus unable to care for my child(ren) and I consent in writing, before two witnesses, to the standby guardian's authority taking effect; (3) If I become subject to an administrative separation such that care and supervision of the child will be interrupted or cannot be provided; or (4) upon my death.
In the event the person I designate above is unable or unwilling to act as guardian for my child(ren), I hereby designate 

(name, home address and telephone number of alternate standby guardian), as standby guardian of my child(ren).
I also understand that my standby guardian's authority will cease sixty days after commencing unless by such date he or she petitions the court for appointment as guardian.
I understand that I retain full parental, guardianship, custodial or caretaker rights even after the commencement of the standby guardian's authority, and may revoke the standby guardianship at any time.
I declare that the person whose name appears above signed this document in my presence, or was physically unable to sign and asked another to sign this document, who did so in my presence. I further declare that I am at least eighteen years old and am not the person designated as standby guardian.
Witness' Signature: 
Witness' Signature: 

Penalties for Violating Executive Orders on Coronavirus Expanded AGAIN

By Executive Order 202.14, Governor Cuomo enacted new penalties for violating Coronavirus Executive Orders, in addition to what we discussed in our blogs - Penalties for Keeping Your Real Estate Opened in Coronavirus Expanded and What Happens When You Ignore the Essential Services Executive Order

The new penalty order states as follows:
The enforcement of any violation of the foregoing directives on and after April 7, 2020, in addition to any other enforcement mechanism stated in any prior executive orders, shall be a violation punishable as a violation of public health law section 12-b(2) and the Commissioner of Health is directed and authorized to issue emergency regulations. The fine for such violation by an individual who is participating in any gathering which violates the terms of the orders or is failing to abide by social distancing restrictions in effect in any place which is not their home shall not exceed $1,000.
You've been warned. 

Friday, April 03, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program - Regulations Explained

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law on 3/27/2020, includes expeditious relief for America's small businesses through loans funded at $349 billion.

§1102 of the CARES Act establishes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under the SBA 7(a) Loan Program & §1106 provides forgiveness of up to the full principal of loan.

To fulfill the expeditious intent of providing relief to small businesses, the SBA issued its final rule on 4/2/2020 without the typical 30-day delay for effectiveness. 

We will be discussing the PPP in great detail on Real Estate Investing with Andrew Lieb this Sunday at noon on LI News Radio (WRCN / FM103.9) - If you are in business, don't miss this important segment - it could save your financial life. 

Here is a Summary of the Interim Final Rule found at 13 CFR Part 120
  • Loan Terms:
    • No collateral
    • No personal guarantee
    • No fees
    • Loan payments deferred 6 months (interest accrues)
    • 2-year maturity
    • 1% interest rate
    • Maximum loan $10MM
  • Loan Amount (calculation methodology):
    1. Aggregate payroll costs from last 12 months
    2. Subtract amounts paid to employee over $100K
    3. Divide net of steps 1 & 2 by 12
    4. Multiply step 3 by 2.5
    5. Add outstanding amount of an Economic Injury Disaster Loan made from 1/31/2020 to 4/3/2020 less advances
  • Loan Forgiveness Availability:
    • Employees are on the payroll for 8 weeks 
    • Money used for payroll, rent (lease dated before 2/15/2020), mortgage interest (obligation incurred before 2/15/2020), or utilities (service agreement before 2/15/2020)
    • 75% of loan forgiven must be used on payroll
    • Payroll includes:
      • Small business = Salary, wages, commission, cash tips, vacation / parental / family /medical / sick leave, allowance for separation / dismissal, employee benefits (health / retirement), state / local employment tax
      • Independent Contractor = wage, commission, income, or net earnings
    • Payroll doesn’t include: 
      • Employee with principal residence outside US
      • Salary over $100k (prorated)
      • Fed employment tax from 2/15/2020 to 6/30/2020
      • Qualified sick & family leave wages
    • To prove proper payments, lenders can rely on borrower’s documentation without any verification requirements
  • Application:
    • SBA Form 2483 (lender submits SBA Form 2484)
    • Applicant certifies that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant.
    • Available from 4/3/2020 to 6/30/2020 or until exhausted
    • Borrower can only get 1 loan
    • First-come, first service
    • E-signature / consent permitted
  • Eligibility:
    • Must be small business, non-profit, independent contractor (sole proprietor)
    • Must have < 500 employees (certain exceptions if bigger) with principal place of residence in US
    • Must be in operations on 2/15/2020 with W2 employees
    • Must submit proof of eligibility of:
      • Payroll processor records
      • Payroll tax filings
      • Form 1099-Misc
      • Income & expenses for sole proprietorship
      • If don’t have above, bank records to demonstrate qualifying payroll
  • Ineligibility:
    • You are engaged in illegal activity under federal, state or local law (no legal marijuana) 
    • Household employer of nannies / housekeepers
    • Owner of 20% or more is incarcerated, on probation / parole, subject to indictment, criminal information, arraignment, or convicted of felony in last 5 years
    • Delinquent / defaults on SBA loan within last 7 years
  • Misuse Penalties:
    • Knowingly using loan for unauthorized purposes is fraud
    • False statements on application is up to 5 year imprisonment / up to $250K fine + up to 2 years imprisonment / up to $5K fine + up to 30 years imprisonment / up to $1MM fine
  • Lenders Fees Paid from SBA:
    • 5% of loans up to $350K
    • 3% of loans over $350K & less than $2MM
    • 1% of loans at least $2MM  
  • Agent Fees Paid by Lender from its Fees:
    • 1% of loans up to $350K
    • 0.5% of loans over $350K & less than $2MM
    • 0.25% of loans at least $2MM
·        Questions should be made to Lender Relations Specialist at the local SBA Field Office