NYC’s City Council has officially passed legislation for a new ECB amnesty program for certain administrative fines issued through OATH.
ECB Amnesty isn’t new – the city has instituted programs like this before. That said, it’s a great opportunity to drive down OATH-related fines at a lower cost and clear related violations from your buildings.
While the program isn’t in place just yet (the law is almost in effect, awaiting time or the mayor’s signature), here’s an overview of what it could mean for your buildings:
ECB Amnesty Program Basics
- The program would be run by the Department of Finance, lasting 90 days during the upcoming fiscal year (with the possibility of a 90-day extension)
- Depending on the issue date and status of the violation, named respondents may be able to pay 25 – 100% of the fines issued (and resolve judgment) without accrued interest:
- Default judgments would be able to resolve judgments by paying the base penalty without default penalties or accrued interest
- Judgments made before the pandemic would be resolved with 75% of payment of the imposed penalty (without accrued interest)
- Judgments made during the pandemic would be resolved with 25% of payment of the imposed penalty (without accrued interest)
- If a named respondent has made payments on judgments greater than or equal to the above stated amounts (partial payments as they stand today), they may apply for resolution under this program
Amnesty Program Exceptions
- Judgments entered in the 90 days leading up to the start of the program “would be ineligible for resolution.”
- Judgments requiring correction of the violation (DOB and FDNY) “may be resolved under the temporary program only if the city agency that issued the notice of violation has issued, on or before the last day of the amnesty period, a certificate of compliance indicating that the condition cited in such notice of violation has been corrected to the satisfaction of such agency.”
- Judgments that are the subject of agreements with a marshal or sheriff executed prior to the amnesty period may not be resolved under the program
- Judgments where the respondent/payor fails to pay the subject amounts on or before the last day of the amnesty period will not be resolved
- Judgments where the violation is the subject of a criminal investigation may not be resolved
Reminder – paying off defaulted violations as part of the program is an admission of liability. Additionally, “A resolution of a judgment under the temporary program shall constitute a waiver of all legal and factual defenses to liability for the judgment.”
Any judgments that remain outstanding after the program ends will have “full legal effectiveness and enforceability regardless of whether it could have been resolved under this program.” If you want to clear outstanding fines and avoid excess interest, taking advantage of the program is a great way to do it.
Given the upcoming start of the new fiscal year (kicking off on July 1, 2021), the ECB amnesty program may be starting sooner rather than later. Stay tuned to this space – we’ll let you know when you can start to take advantage of the new program.
Additional Civil Penalty Relief
Additionally, a separately passed rule would provide relief for different types of civil penalties, including ones for buildings:
Boilers & Failure To Post Work Permits
In very certain instances, this bill would allow a cure period for a first violation, or eliminate the civil penalty for a first violation.
Specifically – “no civil penalty shall be imposed upon correction of the following first-time major violations”:
- 1.1. Failure to post, or post in accordance with the restrictions and prohibitions set forth in section 28-105.11, a building permit or a copy thereof for work at a work site in violation of section 28-105.11, or violation of a corresponding rule promulgated by the department;
- 1.3. Failure by an owner of a boiler to file a complete boiler inspection report in violation of section 28-303.7, or violation of a corresponding rule promulgated by the department;
There are a few more specific rules laid out in this section (mostly related to signage/zoning), but the above two are quite substantial. Keep in mind – owners have to comply within the specified time period to avoid fines, and any violations may still serve as a predicate for assessing aggravating factors (multiple offenses) going forward.
We’ll keep you posted on how this will play out in practice, but expect more information from the DOB/OATH as this law is adopted.