The New York City Council Housing Committee held hearings, Thursday, on 37 bills aimed at increasing penalties for violations by building owners, discouraging tenant buy-outs, and making it harder to get building permits. CHIP and ABO, along with industry partners, opposed most of the proposals.
State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents parts of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, will be the new chairman of the Senate Housing Committee under Democratic leadership in January.
The Furman Center released a policy brief this week on increasing legal assistance for tenants in Housing Court. The brief focused mostly on the need for better planning and training in other municipalities that are considering giving tenants lawyers, but did note that, thanks to New York City’s free legal programs, the number of pretrial motions increased 19.1 percent from 2014 to 2016 – prolonging cases and raising owners’ legal costs.
Mayor de Blasio is out with a new ten year plan for reforming public housing this week. He expects to raise $3 billion from private developers building on New York City Housing Authority sites and buying air rights, along with the sale of private management rights announced last week.
Apartment owners aren’t the only ones targeted by 311 complaints. The New York Times reports that someone has “weaponized” 311 calls with sign complaints against small commercial businesses. Over 200 calls about unauthorized signs in Brooklyn were reportedly made last month, up from 23 during the same month last year.
Waterfront development is taking on a whole new meaning on the East End of Long Island. The East Hampton Town Board is studying the legal and land use issues of moving downtown Montauk inland, away from rising seas.
The programmers behind tenant complaint websites heatseek.org andjustfix.nyc have launched Who Owns What to help tenants identify all the properties owned by a single entity despite multiple LLCs. Using public records and relying on office addresses, it may be more reliable at finding agents than owners.
Mayor de Blasio has announced that the City is close to acquiring 17 buildings with 729 units in order to convert 468 of the units currently used for cluster housing for the homeless into permanent residents. No prices were revealed and the City is “negotiating” with the owners under the threat of using eminent domain.
The Mayor and Comptroller, meanwhile, are battling over which taxes to raise to pay for subsidized housing. The Mayor wants to add a 2.5% surcharge on residential sales over $2 million while the Comptroller wants to eliminate the mortgage recording tax but boost property transfer taxes up to 8%. Either plan would require approval by the State.
The State Division of Housing and Community Renewal has confused owners in Ossining, where the Village recently adopted rent stabilization, by extending the deadline for initial registration and fee payments to unspecified dates. TheHCR website says they will send a letter to those affected when they know what they are doing.
It is Co-op City’s 50th anniversary and Curbed has an interesting history alluding to its multiple government bailouts and socialist roots. The early population of more than 60,000 has dropped to about 45,000 and the project is considered the nation’s largest naturally occurring retirement community.
Friday the 7th is the last day to buy discounted tickets for the International Builders Show, February 19-21st in Las Vegas. ABO members get an additional break.
Even the de Blasio administration had qualms about proposed commercial rent control legislation at a hearing Monday, but Council Speaker Corey Johnson implied the bill could pass after amendments to exclude larger tenants.
The IRS issued proposed rules for new Opportunity Zones that will allow investors to defer and perhaps avoid all capital gains taxes on qualifying real estate developments. The NAHB also released a quick FAQ on the Zone rules.
The latest New York City Construction Outlook from the Building Congress forecasts non-residential construction will peak this year at a record $39 billion, falling slowly in 2019 and 2020, while residential construction will continue at about 20,000 units per year.
The Daily News editorialized against high property taxes on apartments this week, noting that rental units make up 9% of the City’s property wealth, yet are stuck paying 16% of the property taxes.
Texting is becoming the preferred way to communicate with younger tenants, but owners need to know that the technology comes with regulatory requirements. The latest NAA Units Magazine explains that texting falls under the FCC’s telephone regulations and requires some record of tenant consent, including written consent for marketing texts.
The Regional Plan Association, Wednesday, issued a report saying roughly 2 % of buildings had “bad landlords.” A “bad landlord” was defined as one having both more than ten violations on a building and having brought evictions actions against 30% of tenants within about 2 years. Even that very broad definition of a bad landlord shows that 98% of all buildings have, as we have always said, good and effective landlords.
The federal judge hearing claims about the New York City Housing Authority’s failure to comply with lead paint rules was not amused by City defense arguments that the condition of the apartments is so poor that tenants must have known and accepted the risks.
The New York Post also reported this week that, when Mayor de Blasio announced that between 2014 and 2016 there were only four children with elevated blood lead levels in NYCHA apartments that needed repair, he had just been told that the number from 2010 to 2015 was 202.
The U.S. Supreme Court, meanwhile, might have opened up property owners, painters and other businesses to new lead liability by refusing, Monday, to review a California State Court decision finding lead paint manufacturers liable for lead contamination in houses painted before 1951, when the companies stopped advertising lead paint for residential use. In an amicus, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed fear that the decision could expose all sorts of businesses to liability for decades-old activities that were legal at the time.
Homeless cluster housing residents placed in apartments by the City through non-profit contractors are not entitled to rent stabilization protections, according to a State Supreme Court decision reported this week in Crains and the New York Law Journal (subscription required).
The Appellate Division, First Department, Tuesday, upheld a zoning decision that calls for open space requirements to be met on a ‘zoning lot’ rather than a building by building basis, contrary to the City Department of Buildings’ recent policy. The issue was whether rooftop open space that was only accessible to a particular building’s residents could be counted as part of the total available open space in the zoning lot when considering a new project. The Court said no. Only space open to everyone on the lot counted.
Proposition 10, the California referendum on expanding rent control, is only supported by 35% of likely voters according to a poll released this week. Forty-six percent oppose the measure. Rent regulations are most popular among 18-49 year-olds and least popular among those over 65.
New York’s City Health and Housing Commissioners gave strong lip service support to the Council’s package of lead poisoning prevention bills at a hearing last week, but the written testimony suggests that virtually all the bills need amendment and some make no sense. Regarding requiring every property owner to test and abate soil and water lead, the Department of Health reported that an analysis of 219 children who had blood lead levels above 15 mcg/dl in 2017 found one child with an exposure to lead in soil and one with an exposure to lead in water, but that both were also exposed to paint hazards.
City rules covering Living in Communities (LINC) rental assistance; the City Family Eviction Prevention Supplement and City Family Exit Plan Supplement (CITYFEPS) programs; the Special Exit and Prevention Supplement (SEPS) program; and the HRA HOME Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program (HRA HOME TBRA) and New York State Family Eviction Prevention Supplement are being amended and merged beginning October 29th. Anyone with tenants in these programs should review the changes.
The New York Times investigation into President Trump’s taxes this week explores an alleged scheme in the early 1990s to inflate the costs of individual apartment improvements and major capital improvements by running purchases through a family-owned company before reselling them to the properties. The State Division of Homes and Community Renewal has indicated it will look at the claims.
Sackman Enterprises is proposing giving the City of White Plains $260,000 cash in lieu of 18 parking spaces at a downtown apartment development site because the units will be targeted at Millenials. “Millennials don’t have cars, as a practical matter. They’re big users of Uber and Zip Cars,” a spokesperson said. Parking requirements have long been a target of affordable housing developers as well.
The Brooklyn District Attorney, Wednesday, announced the indictments of five people and two businesses for illegally removing asbestos, filing false instruments with the Department of Buildings, forgery, reckless endangerment and other crimes related to renovating four properties.