rebny

Policy, real estate trends

Temporary restraining order rolls back broker fee ban

By Michelle Cohen, Tue, February 11, 2020

Photo by Rachel Martin on Unsplash

In an update made last week to the state’s recent rent reform laws, the Department of State said real estate brokers hired by landlords could no longer charge tenants a fee. The ruling sparked a widespread backlash from the real estate industry, particularly rental brokers. In response, a group of industry representatives filed an Article 78 petition in Albany, which resulted in a temporary restraining order on Monday, The Real Deal reported. The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and a number of high-profile brokerages have filed a lawsuit claiming the new guidance was an “unlawful, erroneous, and arbitrary” interpretation of the rent reform law passed in June and wreaked “havoc and confusion” on the industry. The restraining order means agents acting on behalf of landlords can collect a commission from tenants until further notice without fear of discipline by the DOS.

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Policy

Photo courtesy of CityRealty

New York officially capped the cost of applying for an apartment at $20, clearing up confusion over a key part of rent reform legislation passed earlier this summer. The Department of State announced on Friday that licensed real estate brokers and salespeople cannot charge more than $20 for a rental application, as Gothamist first reported. The DOS released a set of guidelines to help real estate professionals understand the new rent laws.

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affordable housing, Policy

Via Creative Commons

A group of real estate groups and individual property owners filed a lawsuit Monday, challenging newly passed laws that strengthen rent and tenant protections in New York City. Last month, Democratic officials in Albany passed a landmark package of bills that close loopholes that have allowed landlords to increase rents and deregulate stabilized apartments. The lawsuit, filed by the Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), and seven individual property owners, claims that the laws, as well as the entire rent regulation system, violate the 14th and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as reported by The Real Deal.

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affordable housing, Policy

Image via Pixabay.

Real estate industry leaders say they will file a lawsuit against the state to challenge a package of bills containing changes to current rent regulations, which expire on June 15, the Observer reports. As 6sqft previously reported, the legislative package headed to both chambers for a vote this week contains landmark changes to current rent regulations aimed at strengthening New York’s rent laws and tenant protections. Industry stakeholders say they’ll challenge the legislation on several points including one that makes the rules permanent, rather than having them expire every few years. The lawsuit would also challenge the retroactive nature of a provision to lower the amount landlords can charge for major capital improvements.

The industry fears ‘disaster’

Midtown West, Policy

Image via Wiki Commons

The de Blasio administration pulled the plug Monday on proposed legislation that would give the city a 20 percent cut of any air rights sales in midtown Manhattan’s Theater District, according to Crain’s. The reversal followed disputes with City Council members over a key element–a floor price for the sales. The proposal had been part of a long effort to get theater owners to up the amount they contribute to a fund used for venue maintenance and support for smaller theaters. There is now speculation as to whether the move could cast a shadow on the administration’s Midtown East rezoning plan, which is a similar policy initiative.

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Midtown West, Policy

In November, the City Planning Commission voted to raise the cost of air rights transfers in the Theater District, allowing the city to take a 20 percent cut of any sales and establishing a minimum floor price of $346, a roughly 400 percent increase over the current $17.60 flat fee that they feel will be more in line with current property values. Despite vocal opposition from the Real Estate Board of New York, who back Theater District landlords and believe the increase is “is onerous, excessive and unfair,” this month the Commission is hoping to have the proposal approved by the City Council, reports Crain’s.

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Midtown West, Policy

The City Planning Commission has voted to up the cost of air rights transfers in the special Midtown Manhattan district that includes Broadway’s theaters, The Real Deal reports. Currently, when developers purchase air rights from theaters between West 40th and West 57th Streets from Sixth to Eighth Avenues, they pay $17.60 per square foot to the Theater Subdistrict Fund. Transferable development rights can usually only be used for adjacent properties, but the city created the special district in 1998 to help the theater industry thrive amid sharply rising real estate prices; within the district, air rights can be moved more freely in a larger area outside the usual “arms length” restrictions.

What does this mean for Broadway theaters?

affordable housing, Policy

Construction contractors

Ever since the city’s 421-a tax exemption program expired in January, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) have been negotiating under what terms to extend and/or modify the program. Both groups took part in what the city believes were “secret talks” with Governor Cuomo over the summer, after which he released his proposal to revise 421-a with wage subsidies for construction workers. REBNY was concerned about this stipulation, claiming it would increase construction costs by up to 30 percent, but a press release sent yesterday evening reports that they’ve reached an agreement with the Trades Council to move ahead with Cuomo’s version of the plan, which, in addition to setting a $60 hourly wage for qualifying projects in Manhattan and $45 in Brooklyn and Queens, extends the tax breaks up to 35 years (up from de Blasio’s proposed 25 years) and mandates newly created affordable units be kept in place for 40 years.

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affordable housing, Policy, real estate trends

Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn brownstones

Historic brownstones in Brooklyn Heights via City Realty

The war wages on between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and citywide preservationists. Many thought the contention between the groups over whether or not historic districts lessen affordable housing was a personal sentiment of former REBNY president Steven Spinola. But his successor John Banks has released a new report that claims landmarking doesn’t protect affordable housing.

The report looks at the number of rent-stabilized units in landmarked and non-landmarked districts between 2007 and 2014, finding that “citywide, landmarked properties lost rent stabilized units (-22.5%) at a much higher rate (-5.1%) than non-landmarked properties.” Of course preservationists quickly fired back. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) calls the study “bogus” and says it does nothing to address how many units would have been lost had these areas not been landmarked.

More on the report

affordable housing, Policy

Pacific Park Brooklyn, Greenland Forest City Partners, COOKFOX, Thomas Balsley

Brooklyn’s Pacific Park development, one of the pipeline projects examined in the report for it’s affordable housing offer. Rendering by COOKFOX

This morning the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) released a report today saying if the city fails to renew the existing 421-a partial tax exemption program, we could stand to lose thousands of affordable units. REBNY took a look at a sample of projects in the pipeline—including Essex Crossing, 5Pointz, Domino and Pacific Park, amongst others—and found that 421-a is responsible for 5,484 affordable apartments and 13,801 market-rate units in these developments. They argue that without the abatement the theses units would be in jeopardy and be “immediately be sent back to the drawing board.” They add that some of the units could even end up as high-end luxury condominiums and some of the middle- and low-income housing now in the works would be lost forever.

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