November 2019

Government Affairs Update for November 29, 2019

State Senator Jim Gaughran introduces legislation targeting real estate discrimination
In response to a Newsday investigation that uncovered evidence of housing discrimination by real estate agents, State Senator Jim Gaughran introduced a bill that would make violations of the State’s human rights law an activity that could result in the revocation of a real estate professional’s license. The bill is expected to be sponsored by Assemblywoman Kimberly John-Pierre. Both lawmakers represent districts in Long Island, where the investigation was conducted. A State Senate hearing on housing discrimination – at which NYSAR will testify – is scheduled for December 12 in Nassau County.

New York to appeal federal SALT cap court decision
New York State will appeal a decision that threw out its lawsuit against the federal state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap of $10,000. The appeal was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and includes three other states. The federal SALT deduction cap was enacted as part of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. See here for more information.

National Grid ends moratorium on new natural gas service
National Grid agreed to end its moratorium on new natural gas service in Long Island, Queens, and Brooklyn this week. The utility will also pay up to $36 million in penalties to be split between compensation for customers and investments in gas efficiency and clean energy. Additionally, an independent monitor will oversee its downstate gas operations. The State’s Department of Environmental Conservation has until May 2020 to decide on a water quality permit needed to move forward with a natural gas pipeline that will service the area.

Government Affairs Update for November 22, 2019

Governor announces investigation into housing discrimination
On Thursday, Governor Cuomo directed the Division of Human Rights, the Division of Homes and Community Renewal and Department of State to launch a joint investigation into reports of discrimination among real estate agents on Long Island. The governor also announced that the state will launch a social media campaign, create a housing discrimination hotline for complaints, and mandate enhanced real estate professional disclosures on Fair Housing to prospective home buyers and renters through actions by the Department of State. Suffolk County Executive Steve Ballone announced similar actions at the county level. The State Senate will hold a hearing on this topic December 12, which NYSAR will attend and testify at.

The hidden world of co-op board rejection
Real estate licensees are required to take fair housing refreshers and New York State law has just been updated to require additional Fair Housing training as part of agents’ continuing ed. Unfortunately, no such requirement mandates the study of these rules for the members of co-op and condo boards. Co-op boards are also not required by law to give a reason when they reject a potential applicant, allowing the more subtle practice of illegal discrimination. Read the Forbes column on this issue here. NYSAR will continue to prioritize its advocacy for transparency and fairness in the co-op purchase process in 2020 before the state legislature.

Albany Common Council advances rent regulation study
On Wednesday, an Albany Common Council committee took the first step toward consideration of a rent regulation system by approving a resolution calling on Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan to conduct a housing vacancy rate study to determine whether the city meets the 5 percent vacancy rate required to opt-in to the state’s new rent regulation laws. Funding for a vacancy rate study was not included in the city’s budget which was adopted Monday. NYSAR is engaged on this issue in Albany and is monitoring proposals in other municipalities, including Kingston, Newburgh, Beacon, Hudson, and Rochester, among others.

Government Affairs Update for November 15, 2019

NYC Council introduces commercial rent control bill
The New York City Council is taking up legislation (Int. 1796) introduced by Council Member Steve Levin that would create a citywide commercial rent control system for certain retail, office and industrial spaces, and establish a nine-member board that would determine allowable rent increases every year. NYSAR opposes this bill and believes city government officials should direct their focus on tax relief and reducing overburdening regulations in order to help small businesses and reduce retail vacancies. Read more here.

REALTORS® and national housing organizations back lawsuit challenging NY rent control laws
A group of national housing organizations is backing a lawsuit by the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), the Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), and seven property owners in New York City, which challenges the constitutionality of the New York Rent Stabilization Law (RSL). The National Association of REALTORS®, National Apartment Association, National Multifamily Housing Council, National Association of Home Builders and the New York State Builders Association are all now backing the lawsuit, which is a comprehensive argument for why Rent Stabilization and other rent control laws in New York violate the 5th Amendment’s takings clause and the 14th Amendment’s due process clause. NYSAR approved a motion to financially support this lawsuit at its Fall Business Meetings in September. Read more here.

Rep. Peter King announces retirement
On Monday, Rep. Peter King, Republican representing New York’s 2nd Congressional District on Long Island, announced he will not run for re-election in 2020. A field of Democratic and Republican candidates are already considering a run for the seat, including former Rep. Rick Lazio. Rep. King’s announcement follows Westchester Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey’s retirement announcement last month, which has also drawn interest from a number of potential candidates.

Government Affairs Update for November 8, 2019

NYSAR meets with NYC Public Advocate office on coop legislation
On Monday, NYSAR and representatives from the Parkside Group met with legislative and housing staff for New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams to discuss possible advancement of a New York City coop timeline and transparency bill. NYSAR has been engaging City Council members on this issue in order to work toward the introduction of a finalized bill. Williams won his re-election for NYC Public Advocate on Tuesday with 73 percent of the vote.

2019 General Election highlights
Voters went to the polls on Tuesday to cast votes on county, city and town elections. Democratic incumbents Mark Poloncarz and Steve Bellone won their county executive races in Erie and Suffolk counties. Republican incumbents Ryan McMahon and Marc Molinaro also won their races for County Executive in Onondaga and Dutchess Counties. Democratic challenger Adam Bello defeated Republican incumbent Cheryl Dinolfo for Monroe County Executive. There was also a State Senate special election to fill the seat vacated earlier this year by Republican Cathy Young, which Republican George Borrello won handily. State Senator Bob Antonacci appears to have won a state Supreme Court seat in Central NY, which would trigger another State Senate special election. Governor Cuomo has until April 1 to order a special election, or the seat could remain vacant until November 2020. Read more election results here.

Ranked-choice voting adopted in NYC after voter approval
New York City will move to a system of ranked-choice voting in 2021 after voters approved a ballot question to make the change, thereby also eliminating the city’s traditional runoff elections. Under the system, voters will rank up to five candidates in order of preference, instead of casting a ballot for just one. Ranked-choice voting is now in use or approved in 18 other cities around the country. Read more here.

Government Affairs Update for November 1, 2019

Early voting concludes on Sunday, Election Day is Tuesday
Sunday, November 3rd marks the last day of early voting with Election Day – Tuesday, November 5th – approaching. Elections for various local offices will be held. Contact your county board of elections to find out more, including the hours of operation for the sites in your county. To find an early voting site in your county, click here.

NFIP reauthorization could help hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers
As REALTORS® continue to advocate for a long-term reauthorization and reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), many in New York City’s flood zones are without insurance. Since Superstorm Sandy hit in October 2012, the number of homes with flood insurance has declined substantially. In fact, more than eight in 10 properties in coastal areas deemed extremely vulnerable to the next disaster by the federal government are without flood insurance. NAR recently hosted a webinar on the NFIP, which can be viewed here.

New York City metro area housing supply not keeping up with job growth
The New York City Department of Planning released a report which said that housing production in the region has fallen in the past decade. This includes housing units produced in New York City and its surrounding suburbs. Between 2001 and 2008, 2.2 new housing units were produced in the region per net new job added. In the decade since 2008, that number fell to 0.5 new units. For more information, see here.

State Senator Brian Benjamin introduces legislation to create a rent relief tax credit
State Senator Brian Benjamin introduced legislation that would allow some tenants to earn a tax credit if they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Tenants with incomes below $125,000 would be eligible for the tax credit, which would be higher for lower-income individuals. The legislation is also sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. Read more here.

Uncertainty lingers over State payments to towns and villages in Erie and Nassau counties
The State Comptroller’s Office recently sent a letter to municipal leaders in Erie and Nassau counties alerting them that they may not get payments they typically receive from the State this year. These payments, known as Aid and Incentives to Municipalities, provide revenue to local governments. The Comptroller’s Office said that the payments cannot be disbursed to towns and villages in counties that have control boards, due to a rewrite in the law. The State Division of Budget said that these municipalities will receive the payments and talks are ongoing. Read more here.