LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: February Legislative Update

Philip Weiden | February 8, 2021

Philip Weiden

At the state level, in New York many issues are ongoing regarding Fair Housing. An anticipated Fair Housing report has been released by the State Senate that details cases of discrimination on Long Island by real estate agents. In many cases minority home seekers were steered toward one neighborhood while white home seekers were steered toward different neighborhoods. This serves to perpetuate discrimination in covert ways that are not always recognizable.

In some cases, the agents knew they were discriminating, and in others they may have been unknowingly discriminating. HGAR has been at the forefront of the effort to eliminate discrimination in housing. HGAR supported a bill that has since become law that gives the Department of State greater power to suspend or revoke a license if a Realtor has discriminated against someone who is part of a protected class under the law. HGAR has long supported additional Fair Housing education for licensees.

At the federal level, we now know the Democrats have control of both the Congress and White House. With New York U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer as Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, New York may have a better chance of getting state and local aid that could prevent massive cuts in the New York State budget. This is a critical component to fostering the recovery on a state and local level and makes it more likely that the SALT cap may be repealed or at least increased to allow tax relief for New Yorkers. Currently, the cap is at $10,000.

Finally, on a local level HGAR is pursuing co-op transparency amendments to the 2018 law. HGAR has sent a letter to the Westchester County legislators outlining its requests. The first request is a reason in writing mandating that a board tell the prospective purchaser/tenant why they are denying them. This would allow the buyer and the public to ascertain whether there is a pattern of discrimination by the board. HGAR is also advocating that all co-op boards must use a standard application to speed up the paperwork process. If this were to be passed, it would be a huge benefit in our efforts to make purchasing cooperative housing transparent.

Stay tuned for updates on these issues.

Philip Weiden
Legislative Affairs columnist Philip Weiden is the Government Affairs Director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.