Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label new law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new law. Show all posts

Monday, August 15, 2022

NYC Passes Legislation Focused on Combating Pregnancy Discrimination

On August 11, 2022, NYC passed legislation to end pregnancy discrimination.

The new law requires a public education program to inform expecting parents about their rights under discrimination law. 

These rights include being free from discrimination due to an impending childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy, and, also, to receive reasonable accommodations at work when one was recently pregnant or a current caregiver. Additionally, notice about disability benefits, paid family leave, and earned safe and sick time are part of the educational mandate. 

With the passage of this bill, NYC is taking a firm stance against discrimination based on pregnancy and employees will now know that they can live and work free from discrimination in the City. If they face discrimination, they should look no further than the New York City Human Rights Law and fight for their rights.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Employers to be Required to Learn Technology in NYS

The NYS Senate joined the Assembly in passing a new law, A7595, that will require copies of certain documents physically posted in a workplace to be made available to employees electronically, if signed by the Governor. 

While not yet signed into law, employers need to get to work on compliance now because the law will take effect immediately upon signing.

There are a litany of topics that are applicable under this proposed law where the specifics of what is applicable to a given employer is all dependent on what specific copies or abstracts that the employer has received from the Commissioner of Labor. Possible topics include workplace safety, sexual harassment, leave issues, employee monitoring, and the like.

However, the key issue is that the vast amount of NYS employers do not work in a technological world. How are they to give electronic notice if they don't use email to communicate with their employees?

It's noted that a violation of the Labor Law is $1,000 for a the first offense, $2,000 for a second, and $3,000 for the third and subsequent offenses. This seems to imply that it's time for employers to take computer classes.

Friday, October 29, 2021

New Law: Felon Executors Permitted in Probate

Wow, as of October 22, NYS is now permitting felons to serve as Executors of Estates by way of A2573A

Previously, a Petition for Probate required an Affirmation as to whether the applicant has been convicted of a felony and if they had, they'd be denied Letters Testamentary (appointment as the estate fiduciary). 

According to the Bill's Justification, the purpose of this new law is to respect the decision of the decedent. Specifically, the Justification states:

In most instances the court respects the choices made by the creator of the document and appoints the nominated parties. It is detrimental to grieving families when an individual is prohibited from acting as an executor due to his or her conviction after paying their debt to society.

That being said, this new law is not without any restrictions whatsoever. Specifically, the law enables the Court to nonetheless declare a felon ineligible if their "crime may be adverse to the welfare of the estate, including but not limited to, crimes such as embezzlement or any crime where there was a misappropriation of money or a breach of fiduciary duty."

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

New Zoning Law: Expansion of Court's Power to Order Removal of Building in Violation of Building Code

Be warned, the process just got a lot easier for a city / district court Judge to "order the removal of the building or an abatement of the condition" that is in violation of "any provision of the uniform code." 

Previously, there was a functional impediment when cities, towns, and villages sought to obtain such an order from the Court. While zoning violations were typically brought in city or district court, only a Supreme Court Justice had the authority to order the removal of the building or an abatement of the condition in violation. This obstructed enforcement of violations. 

Now, with A3028, having been signed into law on October 25, 2021, this is changed, and local courts, such as city and district courts, are empowered to render such an Order. 

New Construction Litigation Law: Home Improvement Contractors Required to Disclose Insurance

Construction can be a nightmare, which can get even worse when your contractor doesn't have insurance to compensate you for their mistakes and damage. 

Based on A2202, which was signed into law by Governor Hochul on October 25, 2021, starting on April 23, 2022, contractors and subcontractors "shall disclose to the homeowner the existence of a property and/or casualty insurance policy that covers the scope of such contractor or subcontractor's employment should an insurance claim be filed resulting from losses arising from the work at such property. Such disclosure shall also include the contact information of the insurance company providing such property and/or casualty insurance, including a phone number and address."

While this is a move in the right direction, the damages for failure to comply are not enough to move the needle. It's expected that contractors will just ignore this law, as the cost of doing business, because the only damages available to a homeowner who doesn't receive information about the contractor's insurance is "a civil penalty not to exceed the greater of two hundred fifty dollars for each violation or five percent of the aggregate contract price specified in the home improvement contract; provided, however, that in no event shall the total penalty exceed twenty-five hundred dollars for each contract." 

Maybe, it's time to up the penalty too so that the government can make a meaningful impact in protecting homeowners who work with unscrupulous contractors? 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

New Law Confirms Section 8 Housing is Managed by NYS, Not Private Industry

Private industries may NOT assume control over federally assisted housing stock in NY, as has happened in CT, which was just made clear by a new law.

Instead, Section 8 housing contracts will continue to be administered by The New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation ("Corporation") and Division of Housing and Community Renewal ("DHCR") in NY.  

Section 8 of the US Housing Act is designed so landlords can rent housing at fair market rates to low income tenants, in which the federal government will pay a portion of the rent to a landlord through a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. 

Private industry would want to take over Section 8 because of the tremendous amount of money flowing from the federal government and the availability to bring efficiencies that would create tremendous profit and innovation.

However, NY will continue to have its federally assisted housing stock controlled by the state and local governments.

Is state / local government better suited than private industry to manage our federally assisted housing stock? Isn't private industry more innovative and efficient? Or, is it that private industry only makes elites rich? Is this the type of thing that is the better domain of government or private industry? 

Regardless, developers and landlords now have predictability into the future when they get involved in subsidized housing. Predictability is always a good thing in business. 

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. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

New York is Really Tired of Banks and Title Companies Not Accepting Powers of Attorney

Governor Cuomo has signed into a law Assembly Bill A5630A which aims to simplify the statutory short form power of attorney and increase its acceptance by third parties (looking at you title insurers and banks). 

Previously, a power of attorney could be void because it did not contain the "the exact wording of the form set forth in Section 5-1513". This strict language caused many third parties relying on the form to refuse to honor powers of attorney not prepared using their own templates out of fear that the form they were unfamiliar with had a small technical error rendering it invalid. 

Now, a power of attorney is valid so long as it "substantially conforms to the form required pursuant to Section 5-1513" even if it contains insignificant mistakes in "wording, spelling, punctuation, or formatting, or the use of bold or italic type... or uses language that is essentially the same as, but not identical to, the statutory form." Even more, "failing to include clauses that are not relevant to a given power of attorney shall not in itself cause such power of attorney to be found to not substantially conform with the requirements of such form." Long story short, the statute now gives much more leeway in the preparation of the form, hopefully avoiding the voiding of powers which in all fairness should have been valid for the purpose intended. 

To promote acceptance of more powers of attorney, the new bill bakes in protections for third parties relying upon powers, as well as penalties for third parties that unreasonably reject powers. 

Section 5-1504 of the General Obligations Law is amended to contain a presumption that a duly acknowledged (notarized) power of attorney is genuine and valid. It also is amended to provide for a mechanism to release a third party relying upon a power of attorney from liability after reasonable acceptance. The third party may "request, and rely upon, without further investigation" (1) an agent's certification under penalty of perjury any factual matters relating to the power and (2) an opinion of counsel (from the principal is fine) as to any matter of law concerning the power. There are strict time limits (10 business days) in which the third party must reject a power of attorney together with a written explanation given to the principal and agent, and then either reject or honor the power after receipt of written explanation received from the agent/principal (7 business days). Most importantly, if the agent receives an acknowledged affidavit from the agent stating that the power is in full force and effect, the third party must accept the power of attorney except for reasonable cause, which is enumerated in the statute. If the third party and agent/principal follow all the steps in this dance, the "third party shall be held harmless from liability for the transaction." 

But what if your bank or title insurer still won't accept your power of attorney? A special proceeding may be commenced against the third party refusing to honor the power, awarding damages (including reasonable attorney's fees and costs) if the third party acted unreasonably in refusing to honor the power of attorney. 

Time will tell if these changes, coupled with the elimination of the statutory gift rider, will result in more widespread use and acceptance of powers of attorney. Banks and title insurers are notorious for avoiding risk when it comes to the use of powers of attorney and the State's attempts to promote their acceptance has bordered on Sisyphean. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

New York Senate and Assembly Pass COVID-19 Property Tax Relief Legislation

A COVID-19 property tax relief bill is on its way to Governor Cuomo's desk for signature. The bill, S8138B, empowers local taxing jurisdictions to defer property taxes for up to 120 days from their original due date. Alternatively, the taxing jurisdiction can create a payment plan with similar time restrictions. This special legislation will automatically expire with the State Disaster Emergency Declaration.

The bill does not require all local taxing jurisdictions to provide deferral options to taxpayers. It only gives them the option to do so. Assuming Governor Cuomo signs this bill, look to your tax assessor's office to see if your jurisdiction will make use of this new legislation to provide COVID-19 property tax relief. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Enhanced Fair Housing Regulations Published in State Register - Make Your Comments IMMEDIATELY

On January 15, 2020, Enhanced Fair Housing Provisions (page 12) were officially announced for New York State in the State Register.

Public Comment period goes to March 15, 2020 - make your comments by email: - or forever hold your peace. 

The proposal includes additions to 19 NYCRR 175.28, 175.29 and 177.9.

Section 175.28. Notification of Fair Housing Laws requires real estate brokers to advise parties how to sue them for discrimination - BE WARNED - it states:

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.

e) A real estate broker shall be jointly liable for any violation of this section committed by any licensed individual associated with such broker.

Section 175.29. Posting of Fair Housing Laws requires new fair housing signs at offices, websites, & all open houses to advise parties how to sue them for discrimination - BE WARNED - it states:

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.

e) A real estate broker shall be jointly liable for any violation of this section committed by any licensed individual associated with such broker.

Section 177.9. Video Recording and Record Preservation requires schools to record their discrimination trainings - it states:

(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.