Realtors Press Lawmakers on Co-Op Transparency, Eviction Moratorium, Good Cause Eviction Proposals

Realtors Press Lawmakers on Co-Op Transparency, Eviction Moratorium, Good Cause Eviction Proposals
HGAR President Crystal Hawkins-Syska

ALBANY—Hundreds of Realtors from across the state, including approximately 100 Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors members, met virtually with state lawmakers earlier today to discuss key issues facing the real estate industry and consumers.

After NYSAR cancelled last year’s Lobby Day program due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was held virtually via Zoom. NYSAR’s program included presentations by NYSAR President David Legaz, Director of Government Affairs Mike Kelly, who detailed NYSAR’s Legislative Priorities, and an address by New York State Sen. James Skoufis (D-Newburgh-Garnerville), who has proposed a number of Fair Housing bills currently before the State Legislature.

New York State Sen. James Skoufis

The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors virtual program included speeches by HGAR President Crystal Hawkins-Syska, who discussed the organization’s Fair Housing initiatives and its promotion of the “American Promise,” and by Legislative Committee co-chairwoman Leah Caro.

The participating HGAR members then broke off into three meeting rooms with state lawmakers from the Bronx-Manhattan, Westchester-Putnam and Orange-Rockland.

In the Westchester-Putnam session, moderator Caro and other HGAR members engaged in a spirited give-and-take with Hudson Valley state representatives on a host of issues, including co-op transparency, the proposed extension of the eviction moratorium until Aug. 31 and “Good-Cause Evictions” legislation.

The session covered a recently introduced bill that would extend the state’s COVID eviction moratorium, which was set to expire on May 1, to Aug. 31. HGAR’s Caro noted that while she appreciates and feels for anyone who is struggling in this COVID economy, it is not the right time to extend the eviction moratorium now that the economy is beginning to re-open.

She noted that small landlords in particular would continue to suffer under the extended eviction moratorium “and that is just not the way to get back to stability.”

A host of state lawmakers discussed the merits and the flaws of the eviction moratorium legislation. State Sen. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers) said that the legislature will most likely pass the legislation in order for the state to be given sufficient time to allocate more than $2 billion in housing relief, most of which will go to landlords.

“I think that the real estate industry and others agree that some extension is warranted,” she said. “I think there is dissatisfaction with the length of this (proposal) but it is really based on our desire to get this large amount of federal money out the door to have meaning.”

Sen. Mayer, and Assembly members Steven Otis (D-Port Chester) and Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) expect the measure to pass the State Legislature in the next few days.

A host of Hudson Valley lawmakers pledged their opposition to the Good Cause Eviction bill and support for co-op and fair housing-oriented transparency legislation.

Committee co-chairwoman Leah Caro

HGAR strongly opposes legislation currently pending in the Assembly and Senate that the board says would establish an onerous and overly restrictive “good cause eviction” standard and impose de facto rent control statewide without any home rule option. This bill essentially provides tenants with a perpetual lease even when terms of that lease have expired, which is simply impractical. The legislation’s overly restrictive “good cause” standard would stifle investment in rental housing and reduce the market value of these properties.

The HGAR Public Policies Agenda also includes its strong opposition to legislation that would increase the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s oversight of wetlands from the current threshold of 12.4 acres or more to wetlands as small as one acre.

HGAR also supports COVID rent relief, noting that it is critical that New York provide relief to tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to impact of the pandemic. “It is equally important to provide relief to building owners who are struggling to pay their mortgage and property taxes as a result of non-payment of rents. In order to promote economic recovery and housing stability, HGAR supports measures to provide additional state funding and resources to the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program and the utilization of federal funding to provide direct relief to building owners hurt by nonpayment of rent or reduction in rental income due to COVID-19.”

HGAR also opposes a bill that would impose an additional 20% real estate transfer tax on residential properties sold in New York City within one year and a 15% transfer tax on residential properties sold after one year but less than two years from the prior purchase or conveyance.

The organization also opposes any expansion of cease and desist zones and a proposal in the State Assembly that would result in the removal of independent contractor status from licensed real estate brokers and salespersons.

Below is the list of the Senators and Assembly members who attended HGAR’s Lobby Day by virtual room.
Putnam County: Senator Peter Harckham, Senator Susan Serino, Assembly Member Kevin Byrne, Assembly Member Sandra Galef
Orange County: Senator James Skoufis, Senator Mike Martucci (represented by an aide),  Assembly Member Colin Schmitt and Assembly Member Brian Miller
Rockland County: Senator Elijah Reichlin Melnick, Senator James Skoufis, Assembly Member Ken Zebrowski, Assembly Member Mike Lawler,and Assembly Member Colin Schmitt
Westchester County:  Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins (staff attended), Senator Jamaal Bailey, Senator Elijah Reichlin Melnick, Senator Peter Harckham, Senator Shelley Mayer, Assembly Member Amy Paulin, Assembly Member Gary Pretlow (represented by an aide), Assembly Member Steven Otis, Assembly Member Thomas Abinanti and aide Alyssa Jacobs, Assembly Member Chris Burdick, Assembly Member Kevin Byrne, and Assembly Member Sandra Galef
Bronx:  Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (aide Paul Upton attended),
Assembly member Victor M. Pichardo and Assembly member Nathalia Fernandez
Manhattan: Senator Brad Hoylman (sent a staffer), Senator Liz Krueger (sent a staffer),  Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright (sent a staffer), Assembly member Daniel J. O’Donnell, Assembly member Inez Dicken (sent a staffer) and Assembly member Linda Rosenthal (sent a staffer).

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