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The Tenant Protection Act And Fair Housing On Long Island Revisited

John A. Viteritti

Both issues covered in this article, the Tenant Protection Act and Fair housing and Human Rights, are on-going. (Photo: Nicole Barylski)

In recent articles we have addressed issues regarding Fair Housing violations by real estate brokers on Long Island, as well as portions of the Tenant Protection Act that became effective on June 14, 2019.

In this article we will provide updates that affect each of these issues.

Let's deal with the latter first.

An outstanding issue is whether a real estate broker representing the landlord could charge a commission to the tenant. The Department of State (DOS) that regulates real estate agents published guidelines prohibiting the practice. It stated a broker who represents the landlord must be paid by the landlord. A broker who represents the tenant may be paid by the tenant. The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and New York State Association of Realtors (NYSAR) filed an Article 78 with the Supreme Court in Albany County challenging the guideline. In response, the Court stayed the execution of the guideline until March 13th. In a memorandum published by Anthony M. Fazio, Esq. of the law firm Capruder Fazio Giacola he reported that New York Attorney General Letitia James on March 6th requested an extension of the time to file its opposition to the petition. As a result, a court date has been set for June 12th.

A second issue of concern is a result of the Newsday Report that disclosed violations of Fair Housing Laws by real estate brokers and several Long Island Board of Realtor (LIBOR) Instructors who didn't adhere to the DOS curriculum in their Fair Housing instruction. As promised at a hearing held by a State Senate Committee back in December, thirty-one subpoenas have been issued, summoning agents and company representatives to appear at a Senate hearing scheduled for April 17th at the Nassau County legislative offices in Mineola.

On December 16th Governor Andrew Cuomo's press office issued an announcement of new regulations for real estate professionals to help combat housing discrimination. It said: "Regulations will be placed in the State Register for 60 Day Public Comment Period."

The Regulations include disclosure of Fair Housing and New York State Human Rights Law to prospective home buyers, renters, sellers, and landlords. The Disclosure will be furnished by the DOS with rules on making it available including at open houses held by the real estate broker.

All real estate broker's offices including branch offices must display notices highlighting Human Rights Laws as well as other requirements for posting and the filing of complaints by consumers.

DOS approved schools must record video and audio of the instruction of every Fair Housing and Human Rights course and keep the recording for one year.

On February 7, 2020 NYSAR wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo supporting the governor's agenda. Other recommendations included:

Petitioned the State Legislature to provide funding to the DOS in order to establish an effective tester program.

Recommended increasing the fines for broker violations from $1,000 to $2,500 per violation, the fines to be used to fund tester programs.

Require Fair Housing instructors to undergo specialized training, be certified every two years.

Supports legislation that would provide the DOS with statutory authority to suspend and revoke real estate licenses.

Supports legislation that would require transparency in rental co-op applications.

Other bills have been introduced into the State Legislature that would further enhance compliance with Fair Housing and Human Rights Laws throughout the state.

Both issues covered in this article, the Tenant Protection Act and Fair housing and Human Rights, are on-going.

We will revisit these issues as they develop.

John is a St. John's University graduate, licensed Real Estate Broker, DOS Certified Instructor, and real estate consultant. He previously taught at NYU, LIU, and The Cook Maran Real Estate School, which he helped found. www.johnaviteritti.com

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