June Legislative Update: State Legislative Session Draws to a Close; Westchester Co-Op Disclosure Bill Set for Vote

Philip Weiden | June 9, 2021

Philip Weiden

The end of the New York State legislative session in Albany is at hand. The real estate industry was fortunate in not having several bills it strenuously opposed come up for a vote.

One particularly onerous bill with the misnomer “Good Cause” eviction, would have locked in a long-term lease and taken away the property owner’s ability to set the terms of the lease. It would also cap rent increases at 3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, regardless of increases in property taxes, fuel or any other cost increases related to the property. In essence the bill would have imposed de facto rent control across the state.

Another bill that will not now pass, and was a big win, is the independent contractor status bill. This bill could have potentially reclassified Realtors as employees instead of independent contractors. Luckily compromise versions of this proposal would not affect Realtors’ independent contractor status.

A defeat for our industry on the state level has been the failure, once again, of the New York State Legislature to pass co-op reform. New York State transfer and mortgage recording taxes were also not raised. Overall, our successes lie in helping to prevent bad bills from passing.

On a local level we diligently continued to pursue legislation requiring co-op boards to give a reason in writing stating why someone is being denied. The Westchester County Board of Legislators recently held a public hearing and the vote on the legislation is expected later this month. County Executive George Latimer has indicated he would sign the bill if it passes the Board of Legislators. At the public hearing on the bill, supporters of the bill vastly outnumbered opponents of the legislation.

Under the current law more than 500 purchase rejections have occurred. This is a significantly greater number than opponents of the original bill had predicted. We also do not know how many co-op boards have complied or not complied with the current law, as the declination notification to the human rights commission is self-regulating.

Please call your legislators if you have not already done so and urge them to pass the Westchester co-op disclosure bill. Stay tuned for further updates on this legislation.

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