New York City

No more broker's fees and speedy travel benefits in NY suspended

Rounding up the week’s political news

As of this week New Yorker's will no longer have to pay broker fees.

As of this week New Yorker's will no longer have to pay broker fees. Delpixel/Shutterstock

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gained the support of a New York staple in his quest to become the next president of the United States – he got the coveted Mr. Met endorsement. The massive-headed Mets’ mascot helped Bloomberg open up his new Queens field office in Bayside. Yes, anyone can hire Mr. Met for any event, and he was not actually endorsing a political candidate, but it’s not every day that an anthropomorphic baseball is involved with a presidential campaign in any way at all. So might as well have some fun speculating the sort of kitchen table issues that drive Mr. Met to the ballot box. Keep reading for the rest of this week’s news.

No more broker’s fees

In a dramatic reversal buried in a series of new state regulations, New York City renters will no longer have to pay broker’s fees – the landlords hiring real estate agents to help move their apartments will now be on the hook. In the past, people looking to rent an apartment would often have to pay thousands of dollars in broker’s fees that greatly increased the cost of renting. Much more than any other city in the country, landlords in New York hire brokers to list their apartments and work as middlemen, then pass the cost on to the renter. The new guidance is part of an interpretation of the state’s rent laws passed in June. They included a cap of $20 on fees, such as for background checks or credit checks, that a landlord could charge new renters, although it was unclear at the time if that included broker’s fees. The regulations from the New York Department of State clarify that that cap does apply to broker’s fees, effectively eliminating them and shifting the burden to landlords. The real estate industry has decried the change and said that it will hurt both real estate agents and small-scale landlords. Industry members also suggested that renters will still wind up paying, but through higher rent rather than an upfront lump sum.

Expedited international travel suspended

The Trump administration has suspended Global Entry and other similar programs that allow international travelers to more quickly get through security lines and border checks for all New York residents. The move comes in response to the state’s recently enacted Green Light law that allows immigrants living in the country illegally to obtain New York driver’s licenses. Part of the new law prohibits the state Department of Motor Vehicles from automatically sharing information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a letter to New York officials that this will get in the way of the agencies conducting their business, so for the time being, Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs will be suspended in the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the move “extortion” on the part of the Trump administration and announced his intention to sue Homeland Security in response.

Trump acquitted

As expected, President Donald Trump was not removed from office at the conclusion of his impeachment trial. The U.S. Senate voted to acquit him of both articles of impeachment almost entirely along party lines, although U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney broke with Republicans to find Trump guilty of the first article, abuse of power.

The mayor and the whale

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made his penultimate State of the City speech at the American Museum of Natural History with the theme of “Save Our City.” That got the mayor some ridicule about who the city needs saving from, since he’s been in charge for six years. And he did admit that he has had his share of failures in tackling inequality and housing affordability in the city. But after criticism that his focus had skewed too national in recent years, de Blasio recommitted himself to local issues in his speech. He offered some new proposals, including legalizing basement apartments and creating a panel to evaluate the concept of commercial rent control.

Upstate judge challenges bail reform

A Cohoes judge set up the first big challenge to the state’s new bail reform law. He issued an order for bail to be set in the case of a man who did not commit a bailable offense, but had missed previous court appearances. The judge said the issue was not one of dangerousness, which many critics have said judges should be allowed to consider in determining pretrial conditions like bail. The judge said he should have the discretion to set bail if deemed necessary to compel someone to return to court.