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New Developments in Rental Laws and Other Important Information

Sep 10, 2019

Q. I have just heard that the New York City exception to Source of Income protection, whereby a landlord who only owns properties with 5 or less units may refuse to accept a tenant on a program, is no longer applicable. Is that true?

A. New York State has recently added Source of Income to the state's protected classes and therefore any exception existing under New York City's law no longer exists. Therefore, no matter how few units the landlord's property contains, the landlord may not refuse a tenant just because the tenant is on a program.

Q. I understand New York State passed a new rental law that limits the security deposit a landlord can charge a tenant to the amount of one month's rent, no matter what the circumstances. Is that true?

A. Yes. NYSAR has hired outside counsel to review and explain the new legislation so that all the attorneys throughout the state will be giving the same answers to brokers and salespersons when questions arise. As soon as we have this information at LIBOR, we will publish it for our Members. 

Q. My broker just told the office that the cost of criminal background and credit checks to be charged to the tenant cannot exceed $20.00. What if the fee is more than $20.00? What if it is less?

A. The most any tenant may be charged is $20.00 no matter how much more it might cost. The landlord or someone other than the tenant will have to pay the balance if the cost is greater than $20.00. If, however, the cost is less than $20.00, the tenant can only be charged the actual cost.

Q. My broker has told our agents that the office will no longer be involved in rental transactions. Can he do that?

A. Of course. If you, however, wish to do rentals, you can move to another broker's office.

Q.I heard that only a broker or someone with no license at all may own a Real Estate office. That doesn't make any sense!

A. Give it some thought. If, for example, a broker has an office and dies, the real estate business is part of the estate, which may be inherited by a family member who has no license. All that family member needs to do is hire a broker to run the office as an employee of the business. Only a salesperson cannot own and operate a Real Estate office. If the salesperson inherited the office, the salesperson can get a broker's license and operate the office, or give up the salesperson's license and hire a broker to manage the office. Even if there is a broker who owns the office with the salesperson, (for instance, if two children of the deceased broker inherited and one of the children holds no licensee, or holds a broker's license, while the other heir holds only a salespersons license) the office can be controlled by the heir with no license who hires a broker to run the operation, or by the heir who holds a broker's license. Although the licensed salesperson is entitled to share in the benefits of the estate as a bone fide heir, the salesperson cannot control or manage the Real Estate office. The salesperson may, however, act as an independent contractor affiliated with the office under the authority of the broker.