Council Slams Owners

Building owners, managers, and developers were slammed with new requirements on everything from mold to energy to construction noise as the New York City Council wrapped up its term, Tuesday, passing almost 40 new laws.

  • If signed by the Mayor, as expected, owners will soon have to due annual mold and allergen inspections, similar to lead paint inspections, and hire certified mold assessors and abatement workers.
  • Buildings will have to post letter grades on their energy use, similar to restaurant grades, based on their energy benchmarking score. Every building with a score from 50 to 90 will have to post a “B” in the lobby, for example.
  • Under another bill, the City Housing Department will create a new online listing of building addresses by owner name, reporting violation totals and harassment findings.
  • Amendments to the noise code will require new regulations defining noise limits for  indoor renovation.
  • And, the Buildings Department is directed to develop more stringent energy conservation standards for construction than the national and state standards.
  • Subsidized housing projects, including 421a buildings, will be required to list all apartments, building amenities, rents, and vacancies on a central City listing portal. Efforts by CHIP, ABO and other industry groups succeeded in exempting stabilized buildings generally from the City portal listing requirement as originally proposed.

Details on these and other measures affecting the industry will be in the February New York Housing Journal.

Tuesday was a bad day for building owners in the State Court of Appeals as well, with a decision overturning the lower court ruling in Prometheus Realty that blocked a City water bill credit to single family homeowners at the expense of multifamily owners and other customers. Mayor de Blasio immediately announced that homeowners would get a $183 credit, but it wasn’t clear how or when it would be applied or how it might affect other owners’ bills.

The new tax law passed by Congress this week was kinder to housing developers, preserving 1031 exchanges,  private activity bond financing for affordable housing and low income housing tax credits among other business tax changes. On the homeownership side, Zillow estimated that the new  $750,000 cap on home mortgage interest would drop the number of homeowners nationally for whom it paid to itemize from about 44% to 14% . In Nassau County, it would decline from almost 100% to 68%, and in Rockland from 97% to 50%. In Manhattan, however, the percentage would only decline from 100% to 99.8%.

Look out WeWork. It turns out that one of the hot new amenities for new apartment developments and renovations in Westchester is co-working space. Also, pet-washing facilities.

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