Weekly Report for February 26, 2021
Governor Cuomo announces state will deploy fair housing testers
On February 25, Gov. Cuomo announced a new program administered by NYS Homes and Community Renewal that will send out fair housing testers to act as potential renters or home seekers to identify potential unlawful discriminatory acts by landlords, real estate brokers and sellers. At this point, HCR has accepted bids and is finalizing contracts with six nonprofit organizations to conduct testing in New York City, Long Island, Westchester County and the Central New York and Western New York regions.
The Governor also announced new fair housing regulations concerning real estate appraisers, which will take effect on March 17, 2021. The new regulations will require licensed and certified appraisers to receive training on fair housing and fair lending as part of their continuing education requirements. The regulation is available here.
NYSAR meets with Assembly Housing Committee on fair housing
On February 24, NYSAR staff met with Assembly Housing staff to discuss a package of fair housing bills being considered in the State Legislature. During the meeting, NYSAR expressed support in the inclusion of coop fairness and transparency legislation to be part of the overall fair housing package. The State Senate passed a series of fair housing-related bills earlier this month, which NYSAR took positions supporting and opposing certain bills. NYSAR will continue to meet with lawmakers on the issue of fair housing in order to ensure policies are implemented in a practical manner rooting out illegal discrimination in housing.
NYSAR 2021 Legislative Priorities
Following approval from NYSAR’s Legislative Steering Committee, NYSAR has released its 2021 advocacy agenda, which includes protecting independent contractor status for real estate licensees, increased funding for rent relief for tenants and building owners, expanding access to homeownership and affordable housing, and standing in opposition to new taxes and unnecessary regulations such as the proposed “good cause” eviction bill. Additional priorities include support for several fair housing proposals that require continuing education on implicit bias, new fines for fair housing violations, the creation of a fair housing testing program fund, and a increase in license renewal fees for brokers ($30) and salespersons ($10) to pay for a fair housing testing program.
Governor Cuomo announces 30-day Budget Amendments
On February 24, Gov. Cuomo released his 30-day amendments to his budget proposal, which he presented on January 19. Included in his amendments were several housing-related issues, including the creation of a state fund to receive federal dollars for emergency rental assistance allocated to local governments from the December 2020 stimulus bill, modify parameters in the proposal to allow the conversion of commercial space into residential housing in New York City to require 25 percent of units be reserved for affordable housing, and amend language to permit contractual arrangements between the buyer and seller of real property allowing the buyer to pay the real estate transfer tax. The governor’s original budget proposal would have banned sellers from passing on the transfer tax to buyers. Read more here.
Weekly Report for February 19, 2021
Legislative Budget hearings conclude; Gov. Cuomo looks for federal aid
This upcoming week, Joint Legislative Budget Hearings are scheduled to conclude, moving the budget process to the negotiations stage between Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Increased income tax rates and additional taxes on high earners remain on the table to help close a $15 billion budget gap. Governor Cuomo continues to warn that tax increases and funding cuts are possibilities if New York does not receive at least $15 billion in federal aid. The current federal aid package shows New York receiving about $12.7 billion in direct aid. Read more here.
NAR meets with White House on federal eviction moratorium
On February 11, NAR participated in a housing provider coalition call with the White House to discuss the CDC eviction moratorium and rental assistance challenges. Discussed during the call was the need to allow evictions for reasons other than non-payment, the need for access to the court system to have a neutral party as an arbiter of disputes, and clarity regarding how long the moratorium will last, among other issues. Read NAR’s Coronavirus: Housing Providers FAQs. NAR also commended the Biden administration for extending the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners through June 30, 2021 and extending the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window until June 30, 2021.
Weekly Report for February 12, 2021
Lobby Day 2021 Update
Due to pandemic related restrictions on access to state lawmakers, the capitol building and the legislative office building in Albany, NYSAR’s annual REALTOR® Lobby Day is shifting to a virtual format. Lobby Day will still be held on Tuesday, April 27 and you can still expect a full slate of programming that day. Although we won’t be meeting in person, there are a whole host of important real estate measures that we need to convey our perspective on including fair housing measures, good cause eviction legislation, coop transparency and support for increased broadband, just to name a few. Please stay tuned to NYSAR.com and our weekly E-news for further updates.
State lawmakers introduce legislation outlining parameters to distribute $1.3B in federal rent relief funds
State Senate and Assembly Housing Committee Chairs Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz amended legislation this week to create new guidelines for the distribution of $1.3 billion in rent relief approved by Congress in December. Under the bill, the relief program would cover up to a year of rent and utility arrears and allow for an additional three months of each if funds are available once resources have been distributed to initial applicants. Landlords would be able to apply on behalf of their tenants, and assistance would go directly to them. Applications would be available by March 1, and be accepted for six months, unless funding runs out before then. A $100 million rental assistance program established by the state last May still has $60 million of the funds yet to be distributed. Read more here.
NYSAR’s Legislative Steering Committee approves 2021 Legislative Priorities
This week, NYSAR’s Legislative Steering Committee met virtually and approved NYSAR’s 2021 Legislative Priorities during the Mid-Winter Business Meetings. Included in this year’s priorities was support for several fair housing proposals recently passed by the State Senate addressing additional continuing education guidelines, new fines for fair housing violations, creation of a fair housing testing program fund, and a nominal increase in license renewal fees for brokers and salespersons. Additional priorities include protecting independent contractor status for real estate licensees, increased funding for rent relief for tenants and building owners, expanding access to homeownership and affordable housing, and standing in opposition to over-burdensome taxes and unnecessary regulations such as good cause eviction proposals. A full list of legislative priorities will be posted to nysar.com.
Brindisi concedes to Tenney in Central NY Congressional seat
Following three months of legal challenges and a final vote tally, the state Supreme Court ordered the certification of Republican Claudia Tenney as the winner of New York’s 22nd Congressional seat by a 109 vote margin. Democratic incumbent Anthony Brindisi conceded following the decision. Read more here.
Weekly Report for February 5, 2021
State Senate releases final investigative report on housing discrimination on Long Island
On January 27, Senate Committee chairs Sens. James Skoufis, Brian Kavanagh, and Kevin Thomas released their 97-page report outlining their investigation into housing discrimination on Long Island by real estate agents. The report makes recommendations to increase enforcement of fair housing laws, enhance training requirements for licensed brokers and salespersons, increase penalties for fair housing violations, and improve broker supervision, among other legislative recommendations, which NYSAR provided comment on.
State Senate moves fair housing bills out of committee; NYSAR provides comment
Following the Senate’s investigative report on fair housing, this week the State Senate passed a package of fair housing-related bills in the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committees (watch the committee meeting here and view a list of the bills with descriptions here). Prior to the Senate advancing the bills out of committee, NYSAR staff met with lead sponsors Sens. James Skoufis, Brian Kavanagh, and Kevin Thomas. Following direction from NYSAR’s Legislative Committee, NYSAR staff provided comment to Senators and staff supporting some provisions and bills while opposing others. The Senate intends to pass the package of bills on the floor next week while the Assembly has not taken action on any legislation yet. NYSAR continues to be in frequent contact with state lawmakers on the issue of fair housing and will look to maintain a productive dialogue as the Legislature looks to enact new laws to address illegal discrimination in housing.
Attend NYSAR’s Virtual Legislative Policy Forum Wed. (Feb. 10) at 9 a.m. featuring Sen. Michelle Hinchey
Mark your calendars to attend NYSAR’s Legislative Policy Forum on February 10 at 9 a.m. during this year’s virtual Mid-Winter Business Meetings. State Senator Michelle Hinchey will be our guest speaker to provide a legislative overview. NYSAR Director of Government Affairs and NAR Field Representative Zack Rubin-McCarry will also provide an update on state and federal legislative and political issues.
NYSAR Government Affairs Working Groups meet
During NYSAR’s virtual Mid-Winter Business Meetings, Government Affairs Working Groups met to discuss up-to-date legislative and political issues at the federal, state and local government levels. NYSAR staff provided detailed updates on, among other topics, Governor Cuomo’s executive budget plan, fair housing proposals, landlord/tenant issues, eviction moratoriums, and new tax proposals to the RPAC Trustees, Article 12-A, Coop Issues, New York City Issues, and Commercial Issues Working Groups. NYSAR’s Legislative Steering and Issues Mobilization Committees are set to meet next week.