LandlordsNY Briefing for February 13th

Councilmembers Keith Powers (D-Dist. 4) and Carlina Rivera (D-Dist. 2) plan to introduce several bills that will limit brokers’ fees and the amount that landlords can charge for security deposits to one month’s rent—the industry standard. John Banks, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, criticized the legislation because he believes that it will reduce brokers’ salaries.

Other bills seem less contentious. Introduced by Councilmember Rivera, these bills will allow tenants to pay their security deposits in installments over six months; require landlords to process deposits within two months of the end of the lease (at present there is no specific time frame as to when landlords need to either return the deposit to the renter or inform the renter that they will not be receiving their deposit); and require brokers provide tenants with an itemized report that documents their fee structures. The final bill is meant to stop the unscrupulous practice of charging apartment searchers hidden fees.

The Wall Street Journal has more.

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Vancouver implemented a tax on vacant residential rentals and pieds-à-terre tax in 2017. The law stipulated that any property that sits unused for more than six months of the year or that remains on the market for longer than 180 days will be taxed. By 2018, the number of empty properties in the city had dropped by an estimated 15 percent and the city had raised $38 million in additional revenue.

Vancouver is not alone. Similar laws have been passed in Melbourne, Australia; Paris, France; and Oakland, California. The goal is not so much to tax landlords who can’t get their apartments rented or to add a burden to people who can't sell their homes quickly, but to discourage the world’s ultra-wealthy from taking useful housing off the market and treating these properties as investment vehicles.

Just how many units these foreign investors have amassed is startling.

A recent study—which was conducted by Johnathan Bourne, a University College London PhD student—focused on London and discovered that as many as 30 percent of the housing in some wealthy neighborhoods is being used as pieds-à-terre and sitting unused for at least half of the year.

Fast Company has more.

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In a Landlords New York Minute – A (Very) Brief Look Around the World

Belgium is in the midst of a major national strike that is causing major flight delays, Venezuela’s opposition is once again taking to the streets in an attempt to push President Nicolás Maduro from office, Spain may hold snap elections following the current government’s failed attempt to pass a budget, and the United States and India may soon experience trade tensions. President Donald Trump may or may not sign an agreement that gives him a worse deal than the one he rejected in December and shut down the government over, many Americans are finding that their tax refunds are smaller than expected, the national debt has surpassed $22 trillion, U.S. bond prices are inching upwards, Senate Democrats are urging the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice to reject a proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, the rate at which banks are merging is accelerating, mortgage servicing is trending, a record 7 million Americans are at least three months behind on their car payments, the U.S. Senate passed a major land conservation bill somehow, Teva Pharmaceuticals is shifting away from solely being a manufacturer of generic drugs and is staking a claim in high-price biotech medicines, and Albany will hold its first hearing on sexual harassment in 27 years. In local news, MHP Real Estate Services and Banyan Street Capital hope to close on the Bronx General Post Office in coming weeks and will begin major renovations soon after, the Universal Hip Hop Museum in the South Bronx will break ground by the end of the year, and Riverside Boulevard exists.

Freezing coffee beans is a new fad (unless you, like Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory, have been doing since 1997), conspiracy theorists will evidently believe anything so long as They don’t want you know about it, a mysterious species of frog has been discovered in India, small doses of LSD may alter one’s perception of time, the Food and Drug Administration is one step closer to approving ketamine to treat depression, someone plans to do something weird with a piece of cake, another Florida man was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend with a burrito, and rage yoga is a thing.

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