LandlordsNY Briefing for January 11th

Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his sixth State of the City speech yesterday. The mayor touched on a host of issues while attempting to portray a popular and charismatic national leader, but one item upon which he touched should be of concern to landlords: His pledge to seize buildings from landlords who do not comply with the law.

While his executive order creating an Office to Protect Tenants is mostly a lot of sound and fury because it just reinforces existing laws that protect tenants from things like construction harassment and rent overcharges, his proposal to seize unscrupulous landlords’ buildings is new territory, primarily because this simply is not legal at this time. For the city to be given this power, it would require legislation be passed at the city and state level.

However, before landlords fret over the possibility that Mayor de Blasio plans to nationalize the city’s housing stock, it should be noted that the scope of the program would be very small and that it would only affect a handful of buildings. Consequently, the Real Estate Board of New York has given the plan their endorsement. “Enhanced coordination among city agencies will better protect tenants and prevent additional bureaucracy that negatively impacts the vast majority of property owners who comply with the law,” said John Banks, the group’s president.

For more on the mayor’s State of the City speech, see the New York Times, City & State New York, Politico New York, Crain’s New York, the Gotham Gazette, and Curbed New York.

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The fourth quarter of 2018 saw a bit of a slowdown in the Brooklyn and Queens residential markets. Year-over-year home prices increased slightly, but the number of sales declined in both boroughs. Sales in Brooklyn fell 6 percent, to 2,475 in the last quarter, while the number of sales in Queens dropped by 11.5 percent, to 3,248. Meanwhile, the median sales prices for Brooklyn and Queens were $785,000 and $568,000, respectively.

Crain’s New York has more.

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

The shutdown of the federal government has entered its 21st day and economists worry that it could end the longest stretch of continuous job growth in U.S. history. Due to the shutdown, 800,000 federal workers will not receive a paycheck today (which is essentially like pulling an additional $2.23 billion out of the economy, if one assumes the average salary of a federal worker is $88,000 or around $72,500 after taxes), the federal agency responsible for providing cybersecurity has grown weaker, new breweries have been unable to open brewhouses, tech companies have been unable to issue IPOs, and the odds of the United States falling into recession have increased to a six-year high. President Donald Trump is considering either calling a national emergency or enacting a plan that would divert resources from areas impacted by hurricanes and wildfires to build a wall that even conservative experts believe is an enormous waste of resources and completely ineffectual solution to problems stemming from illegal immigration, the drug war, or literally any other issue that one can conjure up. The president’s more hardline immigration policy is causing many foreign-born tech workers to consider moving to Canada, Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) is facing criticism for not understanding why people have a problem with his white nationalism, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) is facing criticism for comparing his desire to see a border wall constructed to 9/11 for some bizarre reason, the U.S. unexpectedly announced that it is withdrawing troops from Syria without conditions after national security adviser John Bolton said that there would be conditions and that the withdrawal could last months or years, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s downward spiral into caricature continued unabated, and the former Brooklyn Eagle statue that has been relocated to the Brooklyn Public Library will now be named after former Borough President Raymond Ingersoll. The New York City Council has passed the Awnings Act to protect small businesses from being hit with fines for violating an obscure law that no one wants to enforce, NYC Ferry is expanding to Troggs Neck, the Brooklyn Heights Association is hoping to halt the city’s plan to repair a part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that is in a dangerous state of disrepair because they don’t want to deal with construction noise, Staten Island’s Community Board 1 voted against the de Blasio administration’s Bay Street rezoning plan because it does not create any new parks or schools, and a $200 million pot farm may soon sprout up along Buffalo’s waterfront.

Ocean warming is accelerating at a pace faster than previously thought, the magnetic north pole is changing more rapidly than expected, dozens of seals are stranded in the Canadian town of Roddickton-Bide Arm, a snake catcher in Australia discovered a python in a pool that was covered in 500 ticks, there was a toadfish attack in eastern Australia, a zombie wandered into a home in New Jersey, and nearly 100 mysterious chickens are on the lam in British Columbia.

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