Taking Advantage Of FAIRER – The 2021 DOF ECB Amnesty Program

UPDATE: It came down to the wire, but as of 12/20/21, the DOF extended the FAIRER program to March 21, 2022 – taking advantage of the single 90-day extension. All fines must now be paid by this date.

Details on the DOF’s new ECB Amnesty Program have finally been released, giving clarity on this opportunity to save money through reduced payments for outstanding ECB-related (OATH) penalties. Per the Department of Finance, this new program will be called FAIRER – Fines and Interest Reduction Enabling Recovery.

We’ve reviewed the city’s latest release along with detailed information from administrative law firm Cohen Hochman & Allen (with special thanks to Kenneth Preston) and put together a handy guide about the program:

The Basics

Per the city, “If you have unpaid OATH ECB judgments that are eligible for the FAIRER Program, you may be able to save up to 75% and have the penalties and interest associated with your judgments waived.”

That’s huge – programs like this are only offered once every few years – and they’re not a guarantee. That makes taking advantage of this a must if you want to clear out old violations and reduce outstanding fines portfolio-wide.

The program started September 20th, and will last through December 20th (the guaranteed 90 days, per the city council’s mandate). To participate, you will have to pay violations in full by December 20, 2021. While the program could be extended by the Commissioner of Finance, don’t count on it. Missing this window means you may have to wait a few years, if at all, to take advantage of another amnesty opportunity.

According to the DOF, “Any respondent—an individual or business named on a violation—may participate in the FAIRER Program. In addition, payors—individuals or businesses who are not the respondent—may participate.”

This program is separate from the OATH-Adjudicated ECB Violations Settlement Program, which is for default judgments entered on or after 6/23/21. If any newer outstanding judgments at your properties aren’t eligible for amnesty, they may be eligible for this.

Eligible Violations

While many OATH/ECB-related fines are eligible for this program, it’s important to note that some tangential judgments, penalties, and fees are not. Below are some examples of what won’t be included:

  • Civil penalties issued by the DOB, included but not limited to the following:
    • Elevator inspection penalties like EVCAT1, ACC1
    • Boiler inspection penalties like LBLVIO/HBLVIO
    • Façade civil penalties
    • Benchmarking penalties
    • AEUHAZ1 penalties
  • Criminal/civil court judgments
  • HPD Emergency Repair Charges
  • Water Bills
  • Most DOHMH Judgments
  • Property Taxes
  • ECB Violations Under a Marshal’s Docket

Tiers of Eligibility & Expected Savings

Per the city, “The amount that customers can save will depend upon when their violations went into judgment and whether the party named on the violation (respondent) attended a hearing held by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings:”

Type of Judgment Reduction Amount
Contains a Default Penalty for Not Attending a Hearing Default Penalty and Interest
No Default Penalty and Entered on or After March 7, 2020, and prior to June 23, 2021 75% of Base Fine and Interest
No Default Penalty and Entered Before March 7, 2020 25% of Base Fine and Interest

An important note – DOB and FDNY judgments within all tiers must be Certified Correct before the program ends in order to qualify. If you have open DOB or FDNY violations that were issued via OATH, now’s a good time to start the Corrections process.

Getting Prepared

It’s well worth looking at your SiteCompli account – specifically at outstanding OATH/ECB judgments – to understand the following:

  • Which, if any, violations require correction ASAP to be eligible
  • Which outstanding judgments fall into which tier based on the docketed date
  • Possible savings based on the outstanding fine amount

Want to get your specific questions answered about OATH Amnesty? Or want someone to walk you through the process step-by-step? Join us at RealFocus! Cohen Hochman & Allen’s expert attorneys will be reviewing the program in detail, giving you the information you need to take advantage ASAP and save money. You can also reach out to amnesty@violationlawyers.com in the meantime to get help.

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About the Author

Kristen Hariton

Kristen Hariton is the Vice President, Product Engagement at SiteCompli, focused on exploring new solutions and innovations in property operations tech. When she's not sharing the latest industry trends, changes, and updates, she's planning her next adventure to Walt Disney World.