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September 2019

Government Affairs Update for September 20, 2019

NYSAR to attend public hearing on independent contractor status
NYSAR staff will be attending a public hearing scheduled by the State Legislature on October 16 at 11 a.m. in Manhattan to examine the issue of employment and independent contractor status primarily focusing on industries that provide services through online apps, such as Uber and Lyft. Legislation was introduced last June by Sen. Dianne Savino and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo in order to provide employment rights and benefits to those without “employee” status. California recently passed similar legislation which provided for an exemption for licensed real estate professionals.

NYC Comptroller releases retail vacancy rate report; Mayor supports “vacancy tax” proposal
Two months after the NYC Council passed a bill to create a database to track retail vacancies, City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a report profiling 24 neighborhoods throughout the city, detailing their retail vacancy rates, the number of vacant storefronts, and average retail rent, among other things. Retail vacancy rates rose the most on Staten Island over the last decade reaching 10.8 percent, while the other four boroughs ranged from 5 to 6 percent. The report also found that average retail rents increased 22 percent citywide. Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated his support on Wednesday for a “vacancy tax” intended to penalize landlords who intentionally keep retail spaces vacant and said his administration will “work on that in the upcoming legislative session.” Learn more.

State lawmakers consider ending 2020 legislative session early
State and federal primaries were consolidated this year, moving the state’s primary election to June 23, 2020, from September. The presidential primary election will be held April 28, 2020. State lawmakers are considering ending the legislative session in May rather than June in order to accommodate the new primary schedule. Gov. Andrew Cuomo commented that he would not oppose the session calendar change. Learn more.

Congress extends NFIP through November 21
Congress has approved another stopgap funding measure that will keep the federal government running and extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through November 21, 2019. To prevent a government shutdown next week, the U.S. Senate voted 82-15 Thursday on the temporary spending bill. Learn more.

Government Affairs Update for September 20, 2019

Department of State issues guidance to licensees on new rental laws
The NYS Department of State recently issued guidance to real estate licensees addressing the new rental laws. The purpose of the guidance was to notify licensees that the DOS is of the opinion that certain sections of the new law “applies to real estate brokers and salespeople acting as an agent of the landlord, lessor, sub-lessor or grantor.” In other words, licensees acting on behalf of the landlord must comply with the new rental laws or face discipline from the DOS (in addition to the outcome of any action brought by an individual or NYS agency). The guidance letter is not meant to interpret the new rental laws and should not be used by licensees to provide clarity to the landlord. The full guidance document can be found here.

President Trump’s housing-finance plan aims to curb GSE lending in areas with rent control
The U.S. Treasury Department’s plan to make Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac private again also included a proposal that would make it more difficult to get GSE financing in markets that enact rent control legislation. The plan cites rent control as interfering “with the functioning of local housing markets, tending to decrease the supply and quality of the available housing.” The states of New York, Oregon, and California have rent control laws on the books. Read more here.

Landlord/Tenant Law Guest Speaker at NYSAR Fall Business Meetings
Learn more about recent changes to the law relating to NYS landlord and tenant reforms at NYSAR’s Fall Business Meetings at Turning Stone Resort Legislative Policy Forum (Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 11 a.m.) with featured speaker Nick Mastrosimone, Attorney at Harris Beach PLLC. NYSAR Director of Government Affairs Mike Kelly and NAR Field Representative Zack Rubin-McCarry will also provide insight into the top state and federal issues facing REALTORS®

Government Affairs Update for September 13, 2019

Landlord/Tenant Law Guest Speaker at NYSAR Fall Business Meetings
Learn more about recent changes to the law relating to NYS landlord and tenant reforms at NYSAR’s Fall Business Meetings at Turning Stone Resort Legislative Policy Forum (Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 11 a.m.) with featured speaker Nick Mastrosimone, Attorney at Harris Beach PLLC. NYSAR Director of Government Affairs Mike Kelly and NAR Field Representative Zack Rubin-McCarry will also provide insight into the top state and federal issues facing REALTORS®.

NYC housing official questions recent rent-regulation changes
Vicki Been, New York City deputy mayor for housing and economic development said recent changes to the rent-regulation system by state lawmakers likely didn’t strike the best balance between protecting renters and maintaining the ability of landlords to invest in their buildings. Asked about the “good cause” eviction legislation, Been said she’s “not clear on what the problem that we’re trying to solve there is, and I think we need to think a lot harder about [that].” Read more here.

NAR FAQ: National Flood Insurance Program Expires September 30, 2019
Without Congressional action, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire at midnight on Monday, September 30, 2019. NAR is making every effort to secure a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP. View NAR’s FAQ section on this topic and updates on legislative progress here.

Government Affairs Update for September 6, 2019

NYSAR attends state Building Code Council public hearing
NYSAR staff attended a public hearing Thursday on proposed amendments to the State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code. Currently, the proposed rule does not include a controversial requirement mandating the installation of a residential fire sprinkler system in all new one- and two-family homes or townhomes. NYSAR submitted public comment in January supporting the Code Council’s draft proposal to exclude this sprinkler mandate. NYSAR will closely monitor this issue as the Code Council looks to adopt a final rule next spring.

Aid offered for homeowners affected by Lake Ontario flooding
Homeowners impacted by Lake Ontario flooding this year can apply for up to $50,000 in state funding to repair the damage. The application period runs through the month of October. Applicants are eligible to receive funding for costs not covered by insurance or other sources and must live within eight impacted counties: Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wayne. More information can be found here.

Tenant activists urging rent control measures in Rochester
Tenant activists are urging Rochester city officials to impose a rent-regulation system in the city. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s administration has expressed concerns with enacting rent control measures in the city and have pointed to flat rates for median rent in the city when adjusted for inflation. The City of Kingston in the Hudson Valley is in the process of hiring a firm to perform a vacancy rate survey. NYSAR continues to monitor municipalities considering any new rent control regulations.

President Trump to address GSE reform
President Trump’s administration’s blueprint for housing finance and government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) reform is set to be released “in coming days,” according to Reuters. The report will address potentially ending federal control over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Trump’s memo called for reform to “promote competition in the housing finance market and create a system that encourages sustainable homeownership and protects taxpayers against bailouts.” Read more here.