July 2020

Weekly Report for July 31, 2020

NYSAR launches Call for Action opposing cease and desist zone in Brooklyn
On July 1, the Department of State issued a newly proposed cease and desist zone that would cover parts of the neighborhoods of Cypress Hill and East New York in Brooklyn. The new zone could become effective November 1, 2020. NYSAR strongly opposes the creation of a new cease and desist zone, which would impose restrictions on the marketing practices of REALTORS doing business in Brooklyn. Learn more and make your voice heard here.

State lawmakers consider raising taxes on wealthy to close budget shortfall
This week, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins backed tax hikes for “multimillionaires and billionaires” to help boost the state’s flagging tax revenue. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie previously has been supportive of increasing taxes on richer New Yorkers to make up the lost revenue. Governor Cuomo has been more reluctant to embrace these tax hikes. Without federal action, however, New York State continues to face a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall which will likely result in budget cuts or new revenue raisers. Read more here.

New York City vacancies increase; lawmakers introduce bill to protect rent regulation
Rent regulations in New York State are based on the legal definition of a “housing emergency,” which is defined as having a vacancy rate of 5 percent or less. An official vacancy survey is expected to begin next year in New York City. Reports have shown rents in parts of the city are dropping and vacancy rates are increasing due to the pandemic. In response, Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, both from Manhattan, are introducing a bill that would seek to protect rent regulated apartments by taking the vacancy rate out of the equation. This would be done by putting a pause on the official count of the city’s vacancy rate – completed by the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the U.S. Census Bureau – until two years after the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration is over. Read more here.

Weekly Report for July 24, 2020

State Senate passes NYSAR-supported fair housing bill
The State Legislature is considering passage of a bill that will provide the Department of State greater discretion to fine, suspend or revoke the license of a real estate broker or salesperson found to have violated provisions of the state Human Rights Law in his or her capacity as a real estate professional. The state can already suspend or revoke licenses or issue fines for certain infractions, including misleading advertising and fraud. The bill, which passed the State Senate on Wednesday, now goes to the Assembly for consideration. NYSAR supported this bill in this year’s list of legislative priorities. Read more here.

Primary Election results update: Democratic Socialists defeat incumbents in Queens and Brooklyn
Insurgent candidates in Brooklyn and Queens are being declared winners in their elections against Democratic incumbents for Assembly. In Brooklyn, candidates Emily Gallagher, Phara Souffrant Forrest, and Marcela Mitaynes defeated incumbents Joe Lentol, Walter Mosley, and Feliz Ortiz, respectively. In Queens, insurgent candidates Zohran Mamdani, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, and Jenifer Rajkumar defeated incumbents Aravella Simotas, Michael DenDekker, and Michael Miller. Read more here.

NYC launches landlord-tenant mediation program to avoid evictions
Looking to avoid a surge in eviction-related filings, New York City on Tuesday unveiled a citywide mediation program for landlords and tenants aimed at addressing rent-related issues affecting the hardest-hit communities. The goal is to resolve issues before they reach housing court. Read more here.

Weekly Report for July 17, 2020

Governor Cuomo announces new COVID rental assistance program
This week, Governor Cuomo announced the launching of an emergency COIVD rental assistance program to provide eligible low-income households with a one-time rental subsidy paid directly to landlords and housing providers. The program, which is capped at $100 million, is administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal. For eligibility criteria and application, click here.

Primary Election results update
Several candidates mounted comebacks in their primary election after absentee ballots were counted. Democratic Assemblymembers Tom Abinanti and Steve Otis of Westchester both won their races after trailing significantly on election day. Assemblymember Otis won by 83 votes. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick won the Democratic primary to fill Senator Carlucci’s 38th Senate seat in the Hudson Valley after trailing by almost 1,000 votes to Justin Sweet. In Western New York, Senator Chris Jacobs won the special election to replace former Congressman Chris Collins, however saw his 42 point lead over Democrat Nate McMurray reduced to 5 points after absentee ballots were counted.

New York’s Tax Cap Below 2 Percent
Property tax increases will be limited to a 1.56 percent increase for local governments in New York amid the pandemic, said State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. Local governments are facing limited revenue options, which could lead to service cuts, reductions in overall spending or tax hikes in order to close budget gaps. Read more here.

Weekly Report for July 10, 2020

State Legislature to reconvene July 20
It is being reported that state legislators plan to reconvene for a summer session the week of July 20 to consider a broad range of bills. A full legislative agenda is not yet known, however could include additional pandemic response measures and budget or revenue actions. It will be the third time state lawmakers have been back in session following the early April passage of the state budget. NYSAR will be closely monitoring legislative agendas when they are released.

In-person eviction trials to resume in Brooklyn July 27
Justice Anthony Cannataro, the administrative judge of the New York City Civil Court, which oversees the Housing Court, announced that in-person eviction trials will resume July 27 in Brooklyn, with other counties soon to follow. It’s noted that although eviction trials can now move forward, they will “not necessarily” result in an eviction warrant or a judgment of possession. Read more here.

A quarter of NYC renters have not paid rent since March
According to the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), a group that represents landlords of rent-stabilized buildings, a quarter of New York City’s apartment renters have not paid rent since March. As a result, New York City is bracing for hundreds of millions of dollars in delinquent property tax payments. Read more here.

Weekly Report for July 3, 2020

Governor Cuomo signs bill extending eviction moratorium during COVID-19
On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo signed into law measures to extend the state’s eviction moratorium during the period of coronavirus-related restrictions. Landlords, however, may continue to seek money judgments from tenants. Additionally, the Governor’s Approval Memo included language that says, “Once the restrictions are lifted on a county-by-county basis and a region has reached Phase 4, and all other individual business entities that were separately closed by Executive Order have been permitted to reopen, then such proceedings could commence.”

NYSAR opposes new cease and desist zone proposal in parts of Brooklyn
The Department of State issued a newly proposed cease and desist zone that would cover parts of Cypress Hill in Brooklyn. The new zone could become effective November 1, 2020. NYSAR strongly opposes the creation of a new cease and desist zone and will be launching a NYSAR Call for Action so that REALTORS may voice their concerns. Your individual public comment may also be submitted to the Department of State at [email protected]. Borders of the proposed zone can be found here.

Congress Grants PPP Extension
On Wednesday, the U.S. Congress cleared legislation extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), popular with REALTORS®, through August 8. The measure now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign it. Created by the CARES Act in March, PPP offers forgivable loans for small businesses to pay expenses and keep workers on the payroll. Loans are also available to independent contractors. Although the program quickly ran out of money, it was injected with new funding a month later. The application period for the program would have ended on Tuesday with $130 billion still unallocated. More information can be found here.