On May 8, 2019, the City Council passed a massive package of legislation designed to curb tenant harassment and ramp up occupied construction enforcement (click here to see the details from the 5/8 meeting).
If that sounds familiar, it is – in 2017, the council passed 18 new regulations centered around the same purpose, many of which are in effect now. This new package of laws either refines rules from the 2017 package or introduces new programs with the same intent: protect tenants while monitoring so-called “bad actors.”
So what happens now?
Once the Council passes a bill, the Mayor has 30 days to sign it, veto it, or take no action. If the Mayor elects to take no action within 30 days, the bill officially becomes law. That starts the clock on the below effective dates, as outlined in each specific bill.
In between the law date and the effective date, agencies associated with each new law will likely propose, then promulgate rules that clarify requirements for each law. This process can take anywhere from a few months to several, depending on the complexity of the rules. During that time, the public has an opportunity to provide comments and ask questions. We’ll let you know when the comment period for each rule opens.
For now, we’re sharing the basics of each new bill (assuming they’re all either signed or passively made law), and how each one will impact your team and buildings.
Click on a particular piece of legislation to learn more about that specific rule, including effective dates and a link to the exact copy of the law.
Buyouts and Rent History
- When communicating a buyout offer to a tenant, you’ll now have to disclose multiple additional items, including:
- The median asking rent for a dwelling unit in the same community district (to be furnished and published online by HPD no later than September 1 of each year);
- That there is no guarantee the tenant will be able to rent a dwelling unit in the same community district with the same number of bedrooms that the person is “currently lawfully entitled to occupancy of” for the same rent of the current contract; and
- That additional factors may impact the ability of said tenant to rent a dwelling unit including, but not limited to, their current employment and credit history.
- When someone enters into a buyout agreement (where the owner pays the tenant money to leave the apartment), the owners must submit information about the agreement to HPD electronically within 90 days of execution.
- This includes the amount of money or consideration in the agreement, along with other details.
- Failure to submit this will result in a violation.
- HPD will create a provide a report of buyouts to the mayor and council each year.
- “The owner of a multiple dwelling shall obtain for each dwelling unit, where available, the previous four years of rent amounts from [DHCR], and provide such rent amounts to the current tenant of such dwelling unit.”
Tenant Protection Plan (TPP), Redux
- This new law harkens back to previous ones about the TPP requirement, along with owner statements for any buildings undergoing construction while occupied.
- It’s a bit lengthier than some of the other new laws, reviewing exactly what needs to be included in the owner statements, and specific preparation guidelines for the TPP.
- If you’re undergoing construction at an occupied building, review this with your contractor and their retained registered design professional. You may also want to review this with your code consultant if they prepare and submit construction documents on your behalf.
- Per the law, “No permit shall be issued for work that requires a Tenant Protection Plan unless such plan is approved by the department (DOB).”
- The DOB must periodically verify compliance with the TPP via inspections, with audits required at an increased 10% of sites.
- The DOB will also conduct follow-up inspections of these sites every 180 days until work is complete, and within 10 days of receipt of a work-related complaint at the site.
- Construction documents must have a signed statement from the owner and applicant identifying occupied units
- Any false statements made in order to obtain a permit (or failure to submit a Tenant Protection Plan) will be met with civil and criminal penalties ($10,000 minimum for a first offense, and $25,000 minimum for subsequent offenses)
- The DOB has to perform preliminary inspections to verify the occupancy status of purportedly unoccupied buildings undergoing construction.
- They’ll inspect no less than 20% of buildings with 6+ units where the application is submitted as unoccupied.
- Permit holders are required to provide inspection access to the DOB as a condition of continuing work and retaining the permit
- If inspectors are unable to gain access, and there is a reason to believe work is being done in violation of the law, the commissioner shall issue a Stop Work Order
- Both DOB and HPD will audit Certificates of Correction for immediately hazardous violations
- DOB will audit no fewer than 15%, with inspections as a minimum requirement for the audit
- HPD will audit no fewer than 15% of Class C violations
- Both agencies will report no later than March 31, 2020 on the findings, and March 31 of every year thereafter
- HPD will now have information for DOB violations on their website, rent overcharge details and findings, and any findings for illegal removal from rent-regulation
- This includes Work Without a Permit Violations & Stop Work Orders
- Owners must post copies of NOVs (not explicitly stated, but assumed to be HPD) that relate to a violating condition outside of an occupied dwelling unit (common area or area impacting all residents) in a conspicuous manner in the building’s lobby until the violation has been closed
- Copies must be posted ASAP, but no later than 5 calendar days after it has been served
- Owners must also post a flyer or pamphlet with information about the adjudication process
- Finally, owners must distribute a copy of an NOV to the resident of an occupied dwelling unit relating to a violating condition inside their unit, and residents of adjacent units. The same adjudication process flyer must be provided directly to them
- No less than once every 6 months, the DOB commissioner will compile a list of multiple dwellings in two parts
- The first part includes all multiple dwellings with <35 units that have a ratio of open hazardous or immediately hazardous housing code violations, or immediately hazardous or major construction code violations that equal in the aggregate three or more violations for every dwelling unit in the building
- The second part includes all multiple dwellings >35 units with an aggregate ratio of two or more violations per unit
- No permits will be issued for any of the buildings on this list
- An exception is when dwelling units are condos or co-ops. There are a few other exceptions, mostly for protecting public health and safety or for correcting other violations
- The DOB can sanction registered design professionals who submit 2 professionally certified applications within a 12 month period that contain errors, resulting in Stop Work Orders. Specifically, they may “exclude, suspend, or otherwise condition the participation” of a registered design professional
- When a person makes a “material false statement” in violation of Admin Code 28-211.1, the DOB must notify the council, department of investigation, NYS DHCR, and the state tenant protection unit, as well as refer the finding to the district attorney of the county where the property is located and the state attorney general
- The Department “shall conduct an audit of filings for all buildings owned by such person and located in the city to determine if other violations of 28-211.1 have occurred with respect to other buildings owned by such person.”
- If there are more than 5 amendments to approved construction documents within 6 months for a single building regarding a change in occupancy, a change in rent control or stabilization, or a change that would require a new permit, the department will conduct an audit of all properties owned by “such person” to determine if any statements were made that are unlawful/materially false
- At least once a year, the DOB will audit no less than 25% of the buildings placed on the watch list for compliance with building permit requirements
- The DOB will deny permits for 1 year after a false statement about occupancy status is made on construction applications
- This does not apply to condos and co-ops, and has exemptions for violation removal, public safety, and other agency programs
- Timelines for required construction safety training have been pushed back by law (beyond the dates initially listed in the DOB Rules)
- Full compliance with Local Law 196 of 2017 is set for September 1, 2020
- “Second compliance date” is December 1, 2019 – (limited site safety training card)
- Any group R-2 building or occupancy within a hurricane evacuation zone has to have a hurricane evacuation notice
- The notice must inform occupants of zone designation and methodology for determining closest hurricane evacuation centers “through 311 or the online Hurricane Evacuation Zone finder”
- Must be posted in the common area of the building and such other locations as set forth in the rules
About the Author
Kristen Hariton is the Product Marketing Strategist at SiteCompli. A member of the SiteCompli team since March 2013, Kristen has learned more about compliance and property operations than she ever thought possible. When she's not sharing the latest industry trends, changes, and updates, she's planning her next adventure to Walt Disney World.