Thiele: Concerns About Eligibility To Collect Advances For Seasonal Rentals Are Easily Remedied - 27 East

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Thiele: Concerns About Eligibility To Collect Advances For Seasonal Rentals Are Easily Remedied

Brendan J. O’Reilly on Nov 16, 2021

The New York State Association of Realtors has raised concerns that some homeowners will not benefit from a new law that allows landlords to collect rent for the entire season upfront, but the legislation’s author explained Friday how landlords and municipalities can easily meet the law’s eligibility requirements.

In September, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.’s legislation that clarifies that seasonal rentals are not subject to caps on collecting deposits and advance payments. A few requirements must be met in order for landlords to take advantage of that exemption.

Tenants must occupy the rental unit for less than 120 days per year. The unit must be registered as a seasonal-use dwelling with the local municipality or county. The tenant must have primary housing to return to and the address of that housing must be provided in the lease. The lease must be filed with the government that operates the rental registry.

The New York State Association of Realtors points out in its recent quarterly legal update that many municipalities in the state do not have a seasonal-use dwelling registry, and among those that do have registries, few require or accept copies of leases.

Thiele said that many local registry laws state that the requirements of county and state laws must also be met. “Some of the towns are actually working on amendments that would conform the state law to their local law,” he said.

If a village or town rental registry still doesn’t ask for the lease, his advice is to attach a copy of the lease to the application anyway.

“I’m not supposed to give legal advice, but it’s pretty self evident from the law,” Thiele said. “So even if it isn’t necessary … I think that covers them to the maximum extent under this law.”

The cap on collecting more than one month’s rent as a deposit or advance payment came with the state’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. The cap was broadly interpreted to apply to all rental arrangements, though Thiele says that was never the intent of the law. He never agreed with the notion that it applied to seasonal and vacation rentals. His legislation signed by the governor in September was designed to clarify what he already believed: The cap is for primary housing, not vacation rentals.

“It was unclear whether it applied or not, and the whole idea of the legislation was to avoid any potential for litigation on that point,” he said.

The cap is a big deal on the East End because it was customary for landlords to get paid for the entire summer before handing a seasonal tenant the keys. When that was not longer an option, it exposed landlords to risks that tenants would skip out half way through summer and never pay for the balance of their lease. Or worse yet, tenants could stay put but refuse to pay.

For East End villages that don’t have a registry, he suggests they create a minimal registry just to comply with this state law. “I don’t think it’s a big burden to any local government to simply put together an application process because it’s just a filing requirement,” he said.

The filing requirement was not his idea. The Senate asked for it, he said. “That was the compromise he had to make to get the bill passed.”

Thiele’s legislation had also made reference to a state rental registry, but that language was removed from the bill as a condition of Hochul signing it. He explained that the Senate had requested that language be included in the bill, in case a state registry is ever created. “I think the governor wanted that language out because she didn’t even want to imply that there might someday be a state registry,” he said.

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