LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: As the Climate Changes So Do the Laws

LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: As the Climate Changes So Do the Laws
Alexander Roithmayr; HGAR Director of Government Affairs

I don’t know about you, but it seems like I have heard the phrase “once in a lifetime storm” about 18 times between Superstorm Sandy and the July storms that recently flooded the Hudson Valley. So, either time has sped up or that phrase has lost all its meaning. Regardless, we live in a time where flooding, forest fires and storms are affecting almost every industry.

In some areas, major insurers are no longer providing coverage to whole states. In New York State, we are dealing with the climate reality both in the increase of actual storms and the government’s response to those increases in storms. In recent years, Albany has had a dynamic response to climate change, and often those responses intersect with our industry. Here are some examples of how those responses have affected our day-to-day lives.

Many of you are aware of the ban on telemarketing during a state of emergency. HGAR and NYSAR have worked hard to get the law lifted. We managed to get a law passed in the New York State Assembly and are still fighting the Senate to gain passage of the proposal. What you might not be aware of is that this law’s origins came from a response to a storm. In 2018, the Hudson Valley was hit with back-to-back snowstorms. In an attempt to help the situation, a bill was created to ban telemarketing calls during states of emergencies so individuals can focus on getting a call from the power company. This well-intentioned law unfortunately had unintended consequences now that we live under two to three states of emergency at any given time—and, all the while, it does not seem to have done anything about the number of calls I receive about my car’s warranty. But worry not, for with your help, this legislative session we can put enough pressure on the Senate to pass our bill to correct this law.

More recently, New York State has made some major changes to new building requirements. The coming requirements prohibit the installation of fossil fuel equipment and building systems—a new term defined in the law—and are phased in by building height. The prohibition starts in 2026 for new buildings up to seven stories tall, except for commercial and industrial buildings larger than 100,000 square feet. In 2029, new buildings of all sizes must be built without fossil fuel equipment. While home builders, especially multi-unit developers, have struggled to build the adequate amount of housing under the current development climate, a number of fast-approaching incremental environmentally-friendly requirements are not likely to speed up home production.

Even more recently on Sept. 22, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill that will help consumers make more informed choices when purchasing a home in New York as it relates to property flood status and experience. In detail, this will be done by adding seven questions to the Property Condition Disclosure Statement. This new law does not change the role or responsibility of Realtors regarding the PCDS but it does add a level of bureaucracy that each Realtor needs to be aware of. The law does not take effect until March 20, 2024. Between now and then, NYSAR plans on issuing further guidance on exactly how this law will be implemented.

The frequency of storms and the government’s response to those storms will often intersect with the real estate industry and home ownership. As homeowners and home providers, this is not an issue that we can ignore. Both well-intentioned and prudent policies will most likely add a new level of vigilance and reality to becoming a successful Realtor. As we navigate this together, we will keep you posted on the clouds on the horizon.

Alexander Roithmayr

Alexander Roithmayr is Director of Government Affairs for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

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