LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: NYSAR Mid-Winter Meetings Recap

Philip Weiden | February 2020

Realtors from across New York State, including an impressive contingent of HGAR members, met in Albany at the Desmond Hotel earlier this month for the annual NYSAR Mid-Winter (Feb. 9-13) business meetings. Among the topics discussed were proposed fair housing regulations by the Department of State, a good cause eviction bill in the legislature that would make it extremely difficult to evict a delinquent tenant and a guidance letter handed down from DOS that would bar commissions paid to the landlord’s agent by a tenant.

Another big issue in the legislative session will be a bill that classifies independent contractors as employees.

We are supportive of new DOS regulations that are being proposed with the exception of one that would mandate that all classes be videotaped. Our concern being that this could have the adverse effect of stopping discussion regarding fair housing laws and regulations in the classroom. The instructor would just follow a “script” and would be reluctant to engage in discussion with the students. Currently a comment period is underway by the NYS Department of State.

A good cause eviction bill by State Senator Julia Salazar would have a devastating effect on private property rights in the State of New York. A good cause would be required to evict a tenant and the landlord would have to get a court order in order to do this. Rent would also be capped at 3% to 3.5% or the CPI, whichever is higher. This would lead to a loss of revenue for the landlord. It also would serve to eliminate a lease once it expires. This would make it a month-to-month rental and would prevent the landlord from recovering the apartment.

During the course of the meetings we received notice of an emergency court injunction that stops DOS from enforcing a rule they interpreted in a guidance letter they previously handed down that would bar rental agents across the state from collecting commissions from a tenant if they are the landlord’s agent. Currently, in many cases the landlord’s agent collects a commission from the tenant. If this interpretation were to go into effect it could potentially force rents to increase to compensate the building owner for the commission.

Finally, a bill that would classify independent contractors as employees would have devastating effects on real estate agents. The bill is aimed more at Uber and Lyft drivers along with other digital industries with the rise of the Gig economy. We are seeking an exemption for real estate agents and professionals in the bill. Stay tuned for updates on these items.

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