LIEB BLOG

Legal Media Analysts

Showing posts with label New York State. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York State. Show all posts

Thursday, October 14, 2021

No More Confidential Settlements in Discrimination Cases Brought Before the New York State Division of Human Rights

Starting on October 12, 2021, discrimination cases before the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) are no longer permitted to conclude with a private settlement. 


Instead, if settlement is achieved, DHR is now requiring "complainant’s attorney [] to state in writing why they are seeking a discontinuance and, if the reason is private settlement, the discontinuance will not be granted." Rather, "the matter [will be resolved] through an Order after stipulation that indicates the terms of the settlement or to proceed through the agency’s public hearing process." 


The purpose of this new rule, according to DHR, is "to ensure that the terms of any settlement comply with our basic standards and do not violate public policy."


Further, given that three-quarters of discrimination cases result in settlement, DHR will be able to collect better data of what is happening in resolving these disputes by monitoring settlements. Hopefully, DHR will actively compile this data and inform the public of their findings so that litigants can make smart, informed decisions, when settling cases into the future. 




Friday, August 13, 2021

U.S. Supreme Court Allows NYS Landlords to Resume Evictions

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked part of New York’s eviction moratorium, specifically Part A of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Protection Act of 2020 (CEEFPA), which imposed a moratorium on evictions for tenants who provide their landlord with a signed hardship declaration. What this means is that New York State landlords can now resume their eviction matters.

As a reminder, CEEFPA allowed tenants to simply sign and provide a Hardship Declaration to their landlords to halt any eviction proceeding against them. The Supreme Court found that this self-certification by the tenant and CEEFPA’s limited avenue for a landlord to challenge the tenant’s declaration “violates the Court’s longstanding teaching that ordinarily ‘no man can be a judge in his own case.’”

The Supreme Court’s decision is a big win for landlords and it came at a time when everyone is wondering whether CEEFPA’s eviction moratorium, which was set to expire on August 31, 2021, would be extended. However, New York landlord-tenant courts and county sheriffs have yet to implement rules which reflect the Supreme Court’s decision. We’ll keep you posted.

Although the New York eviction moratorium is now essentially nonexistent, it should be noted that the CDC moratorium is still in place until October 3, 2021. However, with the CDC moratorium basically having the same framework as CEEFPA, it's possible that it will also come under the same scrutiny as CEEFPA and also be struck down. What do you think?



Friday, June 11, 2021

Seasonal Rentals May Soon Collect More Than One Month’s Rent for Deposit or Advance

On June 9, 2021, the New York State Legislature passed Assembly Bill A4587 / Senate Bill S6877. The bill amends General Obligations Law §7-108(1-a) which, if passed, will exempt certain seasonal use tenancies from the maximum deposit or advance of one month’s rent. The seasonal use dwelling must meet the following conditions:
  1. The lease expressly provides that:
    • the dwelling unit is registered as a seasonal use dwelling unit, indicating the local or county government agency with which it is registered;
    • the occupancy is only for seasonal use and does not exceed 120 days or a shorter period provided by the lease; and
    • the tenant has a primary residence to return to and such address must be expressly stated on the lease.
  2. The dwelling unit is registered with the appropriate local government, county, or state registry as a seasonal use dwelling; and
  3. The dwelling unit is not rented as a seasonal use dwelling unit for more than 120 days during each calendar year.

The problem is that local municipalities now need to create seasonal use dwelling registries or this whole law does nothing, no?


NYS Bill Exempts Co-Ops from Certain Landlord-Tenant Laws

On June 10, 2021, the New York State Legislature passed Assembly Bill A350 / Senate Bill S5105C (“Bill”) which set forth exemptions for cooperative housing corporations (co-ops) in relation to their tenants who are unit owners, purchasers, or shareholders. Once signed by the Governor, the Bill takes effect immediately.

While unit owners, purchasers, or shareholders of co-op units are generally considered “tenants” under their respective proprietary leases or occupancy agreements, if the bill becomes law, co-ops will be exempted from the usual landlord-tenant requirements and prohibitions set forth below:

  • Security Deposit or Advance (GOL §7-108): A co-op will be allowed to collect more than one month’s rent for a deposit or advance from tenants who are unit owners, purchasers, or shareholders of owner-occupied units;
  • Notice of Non-Renewal or Notice of Rent Increase (RPL §226-c): A co-op is no longer required to provide the RPL §226-c Notice of Non-Renewal or Notice of Rent Increase to tenants who are unit owners or shareholders of the co-op;
  • Application Fees (RPL §238-a): A co-op may demand any payment, fee, or charge necessary to compensate a managing agent and/or transfer agent for processing, reviewing, or accepting a tenant’s application where such tenant would become prospective unit owner or shareholder;
  • Credit and Background Check Fees (RPL §238-a): A co-op may charge more than $20, but such fees should not exceed the actual cost;
  • Monthly Maintenance Fees for Late Payments (RPL §238-a): A co-op may charge up to 8% of the monthly maintenance fee for the late payment of such fee if provided for in the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement;
  • Rent” in a Summary Proceeding (RPL §702): A co-op may demand more than the rent in a summary proceeding against a unit owner or shareholder provided that the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement allows for the recovery of other fees, charges, penalties or assessments in a summary proceeding;
  •  5-Day Notice of Non-Payment (RPL §235-e(d)): A co-op may provide another method of sending notice by mail other than certified mail as long as it is set forth in the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement; and
  • Attorneys’ Fees upon a Default Judgment (RPL §234(2)): A co-op may be awarded attorney’s fees in the event of default judgment against a unit owner or shareholder if the recovery of such fees are set forth in the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement.

Essentially, the Bill aims to correct the unintended effects of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 towards unit owners or shareholders of co-ops who are “tenants” only because of their proprietary leases or occupancy agreements.

Do you agree with the Legislature’s corrections? Is it too little, too late?

For pending litigation, it sure seems that this new law affirms that co-ops that previously breached the Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act as applicable to tenants, are liable, no?




Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Legislation Extending Eviction & Foreclosure Moratoriums to August 31, 2021 Signed by Governor

On May 4, 2021, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed legislation (A.7175) that extends the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on both residential and commercial properties from May 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021. The legislation is now on the Governor’s desk for signature. UPDATE: The Governor signed the legislation on May 5, 2021.

If signed, eviction and foreclosure proceedings shall be stayed until August 31, 2021 for tenants and foreclosure defendants who submit a hardship declaration pursuant to the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act and the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act.

Also passed is legislation which expands the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act to small businesses with up to 100 employees, or up to 500 employees if the business was shut down by Executive Order or Health Department directives for at least 2 weeks between May 15, 2020 and May 1, 2021 (A.7127).

As a result, landlords should resort to bringing breach of contract lawsuits against non-paying tenants as explained by the federal courts in Elmsford Apartment Associates LLC v. Cuomo. Do you think suing for a money judgment could result in a settlement where your non-paying tenant surrenders & leaves your property? Should the legislature block this too?



Thursday, March 25, 2021

UPDATE on New Tenant Disclosure Form on Reasonable Modification and Accommodation

As an update on our BLOG on the new law requiring a disclosure form on reasonable modifications and accommodations, Governor Cuomo just signed Senate Bill S867 which removes the requirement that all landlords conspicuously post the disclosure form in all vacant listings. According to the New York State Senate website, “this measure was seen as an excessive mandate on landlords and difficult to enforce uniformly.”

Also, the new law is now under Section 170-d of the Executive Law. It was previously passed under Section 296 of the New York State Human Rights Law. This change means the failure to serve the disclosure form is no longer a listed discriminatory practice under the New York State Human Rights Law. Thus, it is unclear whether any penalty or enforcement is available on the new law or if it is just another lip service law.

As to the disclosure form itself, you can now access the New York State Division of Human Rights’ published disclosure form HERE.



Thursday, March 11, 2021

New Law Extends Commercial Eviction Moratorium to May 1, 2021 for Small Businesses

On March 10, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the COVID-19 Emergency Protect our Small Businesses Act of 2021 (“Act”). In summary, the Act provides some commercial tenants with an opportunity to submit a Hardship Declaration, which upon submission to the Court or landlord, stays most evictions and ejectment actions until May 1, 2021. The second part of the Act which provides for commercial mortgage foreclosure relief is discussed in a separate blog HERE.

Applicability
  • The Act applies to summary proceedings or any other judicial or administrative proceeding to recover possession of a commercial unit, including evictions and ejectment actions.
  • The Act only applies to a commercial tenant who:
    • is a resident of New York State;
    • is independently owned and operated;
    • is not dominant in its field; and
    • employs fifty or fewer persons.

Hardship Declaration
  • The Act requires the Court or the landlord (depending on the status of the eviction proceeding) to provide the tenant with the Hardship Declaration in English and in the language of the lease / tenancy agreement.
  • The tenant should complete the Hardship Declaration if the tenant is suffering a financial hardship and is unable to pay rent or other financial obligations or obtain alternative suitable commercial property because of:
    • significant loss of revenue;
    • significant increase in necessary expenses related to providing protective equipment to prevent transmission of COVID-19; or
    • moving expenses and difficulty securing alternative commercial property.

New Commercial Proceedings
  • If there is no pending proceeding and a tenant provides a Hardship Declaration to the landlord, the landlord is prohibited from commencing any proceeding until May 1, 2021.
  • If the tenant does not provide a Hardship Declaration, the landlord is required to file and serve the following to commence an action:
    • affidavit of service of the Hardship Declaration in English and the language of the commercial lease / tenancy agreement;
    • affidavit of service of predicate notices required by law and the lease;
    • affidavit of the landlord / landlord’s agent attesting to the following:
      • Landlord / his agent did not receive a Hardship Declaration from the Tenant; or
      • The tenant returned the Hardship Declaration but the tenant is “persistently and unreasonably engaging in behavior that substantially infringes on the use and enjoyment of other tenants or occupants or causes a substantial safety hazard to others, with a specific description of the behavior alleged.”
  • If the Court determines that the landlord failed to provide the Hardship Declaration to the tenant, the Court shall stay the proceedings for at least 10 business days to allow the tenant to complete the Hardship Declaration.

Pending Commercial Proceedings
  • Refers to proceedings commenced on or before March 7, 2020 and commenced within 30 days of March 10, 2021.
  • Stayed for at least 60 days, or to such later date the Court deems necessary to provide tenants time to complete and submit the hardship declaration.
  • Court shall issue stay and mail copy of the Hardship Declaration to the tenant.
  • If the tenant provides a completed Hardship Declaration to the Court or landlord, the matter is stayed until May 1, 2021.

Post-Warrant of Eviction
  • In any proceeding in which an eviction warrant has already been issued, execution is stayed until the court holds a status conference with the parties.
  • If the tenant provides a Hardship Declaration, the execution of the warrant is stayed until May 1, 2021.
  • For the sheriff to execute the warrant of eviction, it must now state:
    • The tenant has not submitted a Hardship Declaration and the tenant was properly served with a copy of the Hardship Declaration, listing dates of service by the petitioner and the court; or
    • The tenant is ineligible for a stay under this act because the court determined that the tenant is persistently and unreasonably engaging in behavior that infringes on the use and enjoyment of other tenants/occupants or causes a safety hazard to others with a specific description of the behavior.


New Commercial Mortgage Foreclosure Relief Law Signed

On March 10, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the COVID-19 Emergency Protect our Small Businesses Act of 2021 (“Act”). The Act provides additional relief to commercial tenants from evictions and to owners of commercial property from foreclosure proceedings. In summary, the Act provides owners of commercial properties with an opportunity to submit a Hardship Declaration as published by the Office of Court Administration which effectively stays the enforcement or commencement of commercial foreclosure proceedings until May 1, 2021.

Applicability
  • The Act applies to owners or mortgagors of commercial properties who:
    • owns 10 or fewer commercial units (directly or indirectly; units may be in more than 1 property or building as long as total units are occupied or available for rent);
    • is a business that is a resident in New York State;
    • is independently owned and operated;
    • is not dominant in its field; and
    • employs 50 or fewer persons.
  • The Act does not apply to mortgage loans backed by a state corporate governmental agency.

Hardship Declaration
  • The Act requires the Court or the foreclosing party (depending on the status of the foreclosure proceeding) to provide the borrower with a statement of protections available under the Act in 14-point type (“Hardship Declaration”).
  • More importantly, the borrower must complete the Hardship Declaration and provide it to the foreclosing party to be afforded relief under the Act, if the borrower is suffering a financial hardship including, but not limited to:
    • a significant loss of revenue;
    • a significant increase in necessary expenses related to providing protective equipment to prevent transmission of COVID-19;
    • moving expenses and difficulty securing alternative property; or
    • a commercial tenants’ default on a significant amount of rent since March 1, 2020,
  • The borrower’s submission of the Hardship Declaration is a rebuttable presumption of a financial hardship for purposes of establishing a defense.

New Commercial Foreclosure Proceedings
  • If the borrower provides a Hardship Declaration to the foreclosing party/foreclosing party’s agent, the foreclosing party is prohibited from commencing any foreclosure proceeding until May 1, 2021.
  • If the borrower does not provide a hardship affidavit, the lender is required to file the following to commence a foreclosure proceeding:
    • affidavit of service of the Hardship Declaration in; and
    • affidavit of the foreclosing party / foreclosing party’s agent attesting that the foreclosing party or his agent did not receive a Hardship Declaration from the Borrower.
  • If the Court determines that the foreclosing party failed to provide the Hardship Declaration to the borrower, the court shall stay the foreclosure for at least 10 days to allow the borrower to complete the Hardship Declaration.

Pending Commercial Foreclosure Proceedings / Pre-Judgment
  • Refers to proceedings commenced before March 7, 2020 or commenced within 30 days of March 10, 2021.
  • Stayed for at least 60 days to May 9, 2021, or to such later date the Court deems necessary to provide borrower time to complete and submit the hardship declaration.
  • Court shall issue stay and mail copy of the Hardship Declaration to the borrower.
  • If the borrower provides a completed Hardship Declaration to the court or lender, the foreclosure proceedings are stayed until May 1, 2021.

Post-Judgment
  • In any foreclosure proceeding in which a judgment of sale has already been issued, execution is stayed until the court holds a status conference with the parties.
  • If the borrower provides a Hardship Declaration, the execution of the warrant is stayed until May 1, 2021.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Commercial Eviction and Foreclosure Moratoriums Extended through January 1, 2021

Through Executive Order 202.70, Governor Cuomo extended the moratoriums for the initiation of a proceeding or enforcement of an eviction of any commercial tenant for nonpayment of rent or a foreclosure of any commercial mortgage for nonpayment of such mortgage to January 1, 2021. This means that no eviction or foreclosure proceeding may be commenced against commercial tenants for nonpayment of rent or mortgage until such date. However, commercial tenants may still be evicted through holdover eviction proceedings or sued under breach of contract theories for missed rent.

There are no moratoriums in place for residential properties by Executive Order but residential evictions based on non-payment are governed by the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. Courts may be prohibited issuing a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession against a residential tenant experiencing COVID-19-related financial hardship, if the tenant raises it as an affirmative defense and the Court determines that the tenant is suffering such hardship. Listen to our podcast HERE for what this means to residential landlords.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Commercial Eviction and Foreclosure Nonpayment Proceedings Stayed Until September 20, 2020

On August 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.57 which, among others, extended Executive 202.48 and 202.28. Per the Executive Order, the following are stayed until September 20, 2020: 

  1. Commencing a commercial eviction proceeding against any commercial tenant for the nonpayment of rent;
  2. Commencing a foreclosure of any commercial mortgage for nonpayment of such mortgage; and
  3. Enforcing of such eviction or foreclosure.

As to #3, the Executive Order is unclear as to what is actually prohibited in terms of enforcing an eviction or foreclosure, but it could mean that executing a warrant of eviction or conducting a foreclosure sale are currently prohibited. Stay tuned should future Executive Orders or Court Administrative Orders provide clarification.

As to holdover eviction proceedings, the Executive Order does not specifically address them, thus residential and commercial holdover eviction proceedings may be commenced but they remain suspended per Administrative Order 160/20.

As a reminder, for proceedings commenced prior to March 17, 2020, the execution of the warrant of eviction for residential properties is stayed until October 1, 2020. For properties outside New York City, you can read more about the current eviction rules HERE.

In New York City, the execution of the warrant of eviction for residential properties is stayed until October 1, 2020 and until September 4, 2020 for commercial properties. For properties in New York City, you can read more about the current eviction rules HERE and HERE.


Monday, August 10, 2020

Electronic Notarization Extended until September 4, 2020

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Alcohol Take-Out and Delivery Allowed until August 5, 2020

Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.48 which extended existing executive orders, including Executive Order 202.3. Effectively, Executive Order 202.48 allows off-premises consumption of alcohol, including take-out or delivery, until August 5, 2020.

Restaurant and bar owners should still contact counsel to ensure compliance with the Executive Orders and with the limitations set by the State Liquor Authority as violations can result in penalties of up to $10,000 for retail and $100,000 for manufacturers, and/or suspension, cancellation, or revocation of their liquor license.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Eviction and Foreclosure Stay Continued for Commercial Properties Not Residential

On July 6, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.48 which affects the validity of many existing executive orders but most notable of which, is that it extends the stay on evictions and foreclosures proceedings to August 5, 2020 for commercial properties, but not for residential properties.

Essentially, Executive Order 202.48 extends the validity of Executive Order 202 up to 202.14, as continued and contained in Executive Order 202.27, 202.28, and 202.38 for another thirty (30) days through August 5, 2020 with some exceptions.

Real estate professionals should be aware that it does not extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium in place as ordered in Executive Order 202.28 for all residential tenants and mortgagors. However, for commercial properties, an eviction and foreclosure stay is still in place until August 5, 2020.

As such, landlords and lenders should take note of the following:
  • Residential evictions may now be commenced but courts are prohibited from awarding warrants of eviction and judgments of possession for tenants experiencing financial hardship for non-payment of rent that accrues or becomes due during the COVID-19 period pursuant to the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. Money judgments may be awarded. For more information, read our blog HERE;
  • Residential foreclosure proceedings based on nonpayment due to COVID-19 are prohibited until August 20, 2020 pursuant to Executive Order 202.28;
  • Commercial foreclosure proceedings based on nonpayment due to COVID-19 are prohibited until August 5, 2020 pursuant to Executive Order 202.48;
  • Commercial evictions based on nonpayment are prohibited until August 5, 2020 pursuant to Executive Order 202.48; and
  • Commercial holdover proceedings may be commenced beginning June 21, 2020 pursuant to Executive Order 202.8.

Landlords and lenders are advised to contact counsel to ensure that all laws, executive orders, and court directives in place due to the coronavirus pandemic are followed. As noted in our recent blog HERE, eviction and foreclosure proceedings now require that the petitioner/plaintiff file additional forms with the commencement documents pursuant to recent directives from Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks dated June 18, 2020 and June 23, 2020.


Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Landlord’s New World – Sue for Money Judgment, Not Eviction

Effective June 30, 2020, the Tenant Safe Harbor Act (“Act”) was signed into law by Governor Cuomo. Essentially, the Act prohibits courts from issuing a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession against a residential tenant for non-payment due to financial hardship during the COVID-19 covered period, but it allows landlords to obtain a money judgment for rent in a summary proceeding. Alternatively, landlords can simply commence a plenary action for the money judgment in district, county, or supreme court as jurisdictionally appropriate.

The Act defines “COVID-19 covered period” as March 7, 2020 until the date executive orders which closed or restricted public or private businesses, or required the postponement or cancellation of non-essential gatherings for any size for any reason expire. This means that until all businesses are allowed to be 100% open, a tenant may claim financial hardship and not be evicted.

As a result, A landlord who starts a summary proceeding to evict a tenant or lawful occupant for non-payment of rent will not be able to get a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession if the tenant or lawful occupant claims that he suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 covered period. Tenants and lawful occupants are also allowed to raise it as a defense in the summary proceeding.

To determine whether a tenant suffered a financial hardship, courts shall consider the following, among other relevant factors:

  1. Tenant’s or lawful occupant’s income prior to the COVID-19 period;
  2. Tenant’s or lawful occupant’s income during the COVID-19 period;
  3. Tenant's or lawful occupant's liquid assets; and
  4. Tenant’s or lawful occupant's eligibility for and receipt of cash assistance, supplemental nutrition assistance program, supplemental security income, the New York State disability program, the home energy assistance program, or unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law.

The Act, however, does not prohibit landlords from obtaining a money judgment for rent if successful in a summary proceeding. Landlords are advised to contact counsel to discuss the best strategy to manage their tenants while complying with the various executive orders and laws in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Legislation Prohibiting Evictions during COVID-19 Period on Governor’s Desk

Senate Bill S8192B / Assembly Bill 10290B passed both the Assembly and Senate and is currently on the Governor’s desk for signature. The legislation will prohibit the eviction of residential tenants who suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the bill covers the period from March 7, 2020 until various Executive Orders which placed restrictions requiring closure of and restriction on businesses and establishments, or postponement or cancellation of non-essential gatherings continue to apply in the county of the tenant’s residence (“COVID-19 Covered Period”). Further, the bill allows residential tenants to raise a defense of financial hardship during such period in a summary proceeding and courts shall consider the tenant’s income prior to and during the COVID-19 Covered Period, liquid assets, and eligibility for cash assistance, disability, unemployment insurance, and state or federal programs.

This legislation expands Executive Order 202.8 which imposed a statewide eviction moratorium until June 18, 2020 and Executive Order 202.28 which extended the moratorium to August 20, 2020 for tenants facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the previous Executive Orders, the legislation does not prohibit the initiation of summary eviction proceedings, it merely prohibits the courts from issuing judgments of possession and warrants of eviction. It does not prevent landlords from obtaining money judgments for unpaid rent.

While this legislation is a softer blow to landlords than a complete prohibition on the initiation of eviction proceedings, the main concern for landlords is that the COVID-19 Covered Period can last well up to 2021. Further, as landlords can only get a money judgment and not an eviction, the judgment does not stop the bleeding and would eventually require landlords to go back to court to obtain another judgment for rent prior to the tenants vacating the property.

A lawsuit has already been filed by landlords to nullify provisions of Executive Order 202.28 which prohibit landlords from pursuing eviction proceedings until August 19, 2020 and which allow tenants to use the security deposit toward rent payments. The landlords argue the Executive Order allows tenants to withhold rent without immediate repercussion and precludes landlords from utilizing security deposits as compensation for damages caused to the unit by the tenant. It is expected that if the bill is enacted into law, litigation will surely follow.

In the meantime, landlords should consult counsel for strategies on how to mitigate their risk due to tenants’ nonpayment.


Friday, May 29, 2020

NY Businesses and Building Owners Authorized to Enforce No Mask, No Entry Policy

On May 28, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.34, which authorized business operators and building owners to exercise their own discretion in denying entry to individuals who fail to comply with Executive Order 202.17 requiring face-coverings when in a public place.

Specifically, EO 202.34 allows business operators and building owners to use their discretion in denying entry and requiring or compelling removal of persons not wearing a face-covering, unless they are under the age of two or are not able to medically tolerate it as per EO 202.17. More importantly, EO 202.34 exempts such business operators and building owners from a claim of violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment or frustration of purpose. However, the directive must still adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act or any provision of either New York State or New York City Human Rights Law, or any other provision of law.

While businesses and building owners can now restrict entry, they should contact counsel to create a policy that ensures compliance with the anti-discrimination laws and mitigate exposure to discrimination claims.



Friday, April 24, 2020

New Brewery Law: Increased Limits for On-Premises Sale

On April 17, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S7186, which relates to allowing restaurant-brewers to sell up to 250 barrels of product without a wholesaler, but what does the new law really mean for breweries?

Historically, breweries which sold beer on-premises were limited to making and selling only 250 barrels. To incentivize breweries to invest in their own product, the NYS Legislature increased the limit to 2,000 barrels through Senate Bill S5427. However, they inadvertently removed the language allowing a brewery to sell limited quantities without the use of a wholesaler or a person licensed to sell any beverage for purposes of resale.

Through Senate Bill S7186, Section 64-c of the ABC law was recently amended to clarify that breweries are allowed to sell 2000 barrels per year and up to 250 of those barrels may be sold on-premises without any additional licenses. Any number of barrels over 250, however, must be sold and distributed to other retailers through a wholesaler.

Thus, the new brewery law clarifies that breweries are allowed to sell limited quantities of their product in their own premises and they are also allowed to sell and distribute the rest of their product into other bars, restaurants, and retailers through a wholesaler, and thus allowing them to invest in and grow their businesses.


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)).

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

NYS 90-Day Mortgage Relief Plan – DFS Regulation Issued

On March 24, 2020, the details of NYS’ COVID-19 mortgage help came to light.

Specifically, the New York State Department of Financial Services promulgated 3 NYCRR 119 in response to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.9.

Here is a Q&A about the details

What is the COVID-19 Relief Program?
The COVID-19 Relief Program requires DFS regulated institutions to make applications for a 90-day forbearance of any payment due on a residential mortgage of New York Property to individuals residing in New York and who demonstrates financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How long is the Program effective?
The Program shall be in effect until June 19, 2020, but may be extended if necessary.

Are mortgage payments waived under the Program?
The Program does not expressly require institutions to waive mortgage payments.

When can a borrower apply for the Program?
On or before April 3, 2020, regulated institutions are required to e-mail, publish on their website, mass mail, or broadly communicate to customers how to apply for COVID-19 relief and provide their contact information.

Which institutions are covered under the Program?
DFS-regulated institutions are covered under the Program. They are New York regulated banking organizations covered by the New York Banking Law and all New York regulated mortgage servicers regulated by DFS. This means that the program does not cover National Association lenders (federally charted banks). The Program does not apply to mortgage loans made, insured, or securitized by the United States, Government Sponsored Enterprise, Federal Home Loan Bank, and lenders, issuers, servicers or trustees of such loans, as well as, servicers for the Government National Mortgage Associations.

Does the Program cover commercial loans?
The Program does not apply to any commercial mortgage or other loans not described in 3 NYCRR 119.

Aside from a 90-day forbearance, is there additional relief available under the Program?
From today until June 19, 2020, or until extended, lenders will provide the following relief to individuals who experience financial hardship from COVID-19:
  • Waive fees for use of automated teller machines (ATMs);
  • Waive overdraft fees; and
  • Waive credit card late payment fees.
Institutions are not limited to offering the above types of relief and are encouraged to take additional reasonable and prudent actions to COVID-19 affected individuals.

Who is qualified to receive COVID-19 relief?
Regulated institutions must develop their own clear, easy to understand, and reasonably tailored criteria for assessing qualified individuals. The qualifications and process for applying for relief should be published by institutions on or before April 3, 2020.

How are applications processed under the Program?
Regulated institutions are required to develop and implement procedures for expedited processing where they must process and respond to requests immediately and no later than 10 days of receipt of all information reasonably required to process the application. All determinations must be communicated to the applicant in writing and must explain the reasons if the application was denied and a statement that the applicant may file a complaint with DFS if he believes the application was wrongly denied.

Is the Program ready to launch?
More clarity concerning the Program is expected once regulated institutions have published their process for applying for relief. Individuals who are seeking mortgage assistance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged retain counsel as soon as possible to negotiate with their mortgage lenders or servicers. Don’t assume you qualify and get all terms in writing before you stop making mortgage payments.



Monday, March 23, 2020

NYS Mortgage Relief Plan – Guidance from DFS

Following Governor Cuomo’s announcement on a 90-day mortgage relief plan for borrowers affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued Guidance to regulated financial institutions concerning its implementation. The Guidance urges all regulated financial institutions to do their part in curtailing the effects of COVID-19 on consumers and small businesses by:
  • Waiving overdraft fees;
  • Providing new loans on favorable terms;
  • Waiving late fees for credit card and other loan balances;
  • Waiving automated teller machine (ATM) fees;
  • Increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits;
  • Waiving early withdrawal penalties on time deposits;
  • Increasing credit card limits for creditworthy customers;
  • Offering payment accommodations, such as allowing loan customers to defer payments at no cost, extending the payment due dates or otherwise adjusting or altering terms of existing loans, which would avoid delinquencies, triggering events of default or similar adverse consequences, and negative credit agency reporting caused by COVID-19 related disruptions;
  • Ensuring that consumers and small businesses do not experience a disruption of service if financial institutions close their offices, including making available other avenues for consumers and businesses to continue to manage their accounts and to make inquiries;
  • Alerting customers to the heightened risk of scams and price gouging during the COVID-19 disruptions, and reminding customers to contact their financial institutions before entering into unsolicited financial assistance programs; and
  • Proactively reaching out to customers via app announcements, text, email or otherwise to explain the above-listed assistance being offered to customers.

Regulated financial institutions are also urged “to work with and provide accommodations to their borrowers during this unprecedented global emergency to the extent reasonable and prudent.” This includes holding off on taking adverse action for defaults. Regulated financial institutions include mortgage bankers, mortgage loan servicers, banks and trust companies, among others. For a full list of DFS-regulated financial institutions, click HERE.

While the efforts of DFS and New York State are definitely acknowledged and appreciated, Borrowers should be aware that the Guidance is simply that, guidance. The Guidance does not legally require financial institutions to take the above-listed actions and only encourages them to do so.

Stay tuned for more updates from New York State and DFS as to specific procedures on the NYS mortgage relief plan.