Compliance deFINED Blog

All You Need to Know About the NY Rent Hike

by Mindy Datik on July 23, 2018 , Comments Off on All You Need to Know About the NY Rent Hike

Early last month, NYC’s Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) voted to approve the largest rent increase on regulated apartments since 2013. The vote was cast with the narrowest margin possible, and the public reaction to the vote has been a vociferous mix of disappointment and resentment.

As always, Jack Jaffa & Associates is here to bring you the inside scoop on anything and everything NYC landlord-related in the news. Read on for all you need to know about the recent rent hike.

How high was the increase?

The board voted to permit rent increases on stabilized apartments by 1.5% for all one-year leases and 2.5% for all two-year leases.  The increases will go into effect on October 1st for all of the city’s rent-stabilized tenants who choose to renew their lease.

This vote marks the second year in a row that the RGB has approved rent increases following the historic freezes of 2015 and 2016.

The city’s landlords have seen some of the lowest rent increases under the Bill de Blasio administration. In 2014, during his first year as mayor, the RGB announced the lowest rent increase ever: 1% for one-year leases and 2.75% for two-year leases. The next year, the mayor supported the first rent freeze to go into effect since the board was founded in 1969.  The freeze was voted into effect again in 2016, and last year, the board ended the freeze with rent increases of 1.25% and 2%.

Who voted for this decision?

The RGB is comprised of nine members: five members from the public, two tenant representatives, and two owner/landlord representatives, all of whom are appointed by the mayor. In this important vote, four public members and one landlord member of the RGB voted in favor of the increase, sealing the vote’s outcome by the narrowest margin possible.

Why were landlords disappointed by this vote?

 Although gratified for any rent hike, NYC landlords and property owners found the increase to be woefully inadequate.

The Rent Stabilization Association, representing 25,000 owners of rent-stabilized apartments, called the rent hike “pathetically insufficient.”

This reaction is largely due to the costs of maintaining rent-stabilized buildings which have been rising steadily since de Blasio was voted into office. In the last four years, owners’ costs rose by more than 11% and their taxes saw a 25% increase. This year alone, operating costs for rent-stabilized buildings rose by 4.5%.

The Rent Stabilization Association was calling for steeper increases to the tune of 4.5% and 7.25%.

It isn’t easy to turn the same profit when your costs are rising but your revenue is not.

What was the reaction of tenant groups?

The many groups representing tenants were naturally disappointed to see a rent increase for the second year in a row, no matter how modest.

One group, the Rent Justice Coalition, claimed NYC’s landlords had been “overcompensated for decades” while as much as 30% of rent-stabilized tenants spent more than half of their monthly paycheck on paying the rent.

There were a total of 966,000 rent-stabilized apartments in 2017, comprising 44% of all rental units in New York City. With a vacancy rate of these dwellings hovering at 3.63%, it’s difficult for tenants to find apartments. And with many rent-stabilized apartments renting at more than $2,000 a month, even a slight increase is significant for cash-strapped tenants.

In short, neither side is thrilled with last month’s vote to increase the rent on regulated apartments. Hopefully, though, this is the beginning of an upward trend on rent increases for NYC property owners like you.

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Jack Jaffa Night of Client Appreciation

by Gabrielle Klein on July 8, 2018 , Comments Off on Jack Jaffa Night of Client Appreciation

Jack Jaffa & Associates celebrated 20 years of servicing NYC’s biggest property management and most popular destinations by throwing a party for New York real estate owners and managers at the penthouse of Midtown Loft & Terrace on 5th Avenue on June 26th. The exclusive event took was attended by the Jaffa staff and many of their prestigious clients. For more pictures of the event visit @teamjaffa on Instagram.

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Don’t Forget to Submit Your Sprinkler Compliance Report!

by Donna Bucasan on July 2, 2018 , Comments Off on Don’t Forget to Submit Your Sprinkler Compliance Report!

The NYC compliance code means the city’s landlords always need to stay on top of the game. You have to make sure you’re not missing any important deadlines or breaking any laws or you risk being issued a violations and paying heavy fines.

Lucky for you, Jack Jaffa & Associates is here to make sure you never let any part of the NYC compliance code slip through the cracks.

Today, our friendly reminder is all about Local Law 26 of 2004.

It’s been a long time since this law was established – nearly a full 14 years. Local Law 26 requires a full system of automatic sprinklers to be installed in all office buildings and buildings classified in Occupancy Group E over 100 feet in height. Hopefully, you’re in full compliance with this part of the law and you have an efficient sprinkler system installed in all your buildings that fall within the above category.

There’s another part of the law that you may not remember: Sprinkler Compliance Reports must be submitted by all owners of buildings subjected to Local Law 26 of 2004 after 14 years. The deadline for this report is July 1, 2018.

With the deadline fast approaching, it’s time to brush up on Local Law 26 and file your report.

Here’s all you need to know about the Sprinkler Compliance Reports:

A Quick Review of Local Law 26

In October 2004, Local Law 26 went into effect. This law governed retroactive compliance with sprinkler, exit signs and photo-luminescent lighting in buildings. All upgrades are required to be completed by July 1, 2019.

As mentioned, the law requires a full sprinkler system to be installed in any building that is greater than 100 feet in height by July 2019. If there are plans to renovate a building within the year, the owner may install a temporary sprinkler loop and still be compliant with the law.

The only exceptions to this law are buildings that fall into the following categories:

  1. Structural conditions make it impractical to install an automatic sprinkler system.
  2. A part of the building is an interior landmark designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservations Commission.

The 14-year Reports

Every 14 years, all owners of NYC buildings that fall within the parameters of Local Law 26 must submit a report on their buildings’ sprinkler systems.

This is what your report needs to include:

  • Certification by an architect or engineer detailing the percentage of the building in which sprinklers have been installed as of the date listed on the report.
  • An implementation plan prepared by the architect or engineer specifying when and how the remaining portions of the building will be made fully compliant with Local Law 26.

If you’ve submitted a sprinkler report before the July 1st deadline, you need not submit one again.

If You Need an Extension

If you haven’t installed a sprinkler system and you don’t have conclusive plans for installing one yet, you can still be on the right side of the law. You simply need to apply for an extension by providing evidence of undue hardship that is preventing your compliance with the law. Just make sure to file for an extension before July 1st, 2018.

If you’re ready to submit your report, don’t delay; the deadline is almost here! You can email your report or your application for an extension to NYCDOBLL26@buildings.nyc.gov

Still worried about compliance with Local Law 26? Here at Jack Jaffa & Associates, we’re always ready to assist you with NYC compliance issues of any kind. Give us a call and we’ll guide you through the process, today!

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How Does Your Building Rank?

by Nate Weinberg on June 4, 2018 , Comments Off on How Does Your Building Rank?

Knowing Your Grade and What Local Law 33 Means for You

Report cards aren’t just for school kids anymore! Thanks to New York City’s new Local Law 33, the entrance to every large building in the city will soon be sporting a prominent letter from A-F attesting to the building’s energy efficiency score.

Local Law 33 applies to all commercial and residential buildings of at least 25,000 square feet. The scores run from A to F and are determined by a New York City Agency. They must be updated annually.

The law is effective immediately, but scores only need to be posted by 2020, giving building owners some time to improve their energy use before the scores must be publicly displayed. Local Law 33 is modeled after a similar rating system in Europe and NYC’s own restaurant grades.

As always, Jack Jaffa & Associates is here to guide you through the latest change to the NYC Compliance Code.

Here’s a quick rundown about what you need to know about Local Law 33. For more complete information about your benchmarking requirements and how Local Law 33 will affect your properties, download our Comprehensive NYC Code Overview Compliance defined.

The Intended Goal of Local Law 33

Local Law 33 was passed with the expectation that it will prompt building owners across the city to improve their buildings’ energy efficiency. Essentially, it is taking benchmarking to the next level. Benchmarking was established with the hopes that increased transparency will reward better-performing buildings through higher rents and decreased vacancies. However, this is only possible when potential renters are fully aware of the building’s energy use. Under the new law, they will now have immediate access to that information.

When every building will be plastered with a grade, potential renters will stop and look. They may not know what that grade means, but they will know whether they are walking into a “C” building, an “F” building, or an “A” building. And if they have a choice, they’ll likely prefer to rent a unit in an “A” building. Hopefully, this line of thinking will achieve its intended goal of increased energy efficiency in NYC’s buildings.

The Scoring System

The awarded grades will be based on the building’s Energy Star scores as follows:

A: 90 or above

B: 50 – 89

C: 20 – 49

D: 0 – 19

F: buildings that have failed to submit the required benchmarking information

N: buildings that are exempt from benchmarking or are not covered by the Energy Star program

Every energy label will include the letter grade as well as the numerical Energy Star Score in order to narrow the scope between grades. For example, two buildings may have scored 50 and 89, respectively. There is a huge gap in those two numbers, but both of these buildings will be marked with a “B.” By posting the numerical grade as well, potential renters can determine if the building falls towards the higher or lower end of the letter’s range of scores.

Is It Working In Europe?

Europe is years ahead of New York in this area; buildings in Europe have been required to affix energy labels at their entrances since 2002.

It is difficult to ascertain whether the implementation of a publicly posted energy label has successfully increased energy efficiency in Europe, as there is very little public data available to analyze. There are a number of studies that show the energy labels affected rents and sales in some areas, but these studies are not broad enough to offer any definite conclusions.

We can only hope this new law will bode well for our own city in the years to come.

What Does This Mean For Me As A Property Owner?

It’s time for you to renew your efforts in making your property as energy-efficient as possible. Review your current benchmarking results and look for problem areas throughout your building that may be leaking or wasting energy. Do what you can to improve your energy use now so that your building is awarded with an “A.”

Still not sure how this new law will impact you as a landlord? We can help! Call, click, or stop by Jack Jaffa & Associates to learn all you need to know about Local Law 33 and the NYC Compliance Code.

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Jaffa Employees Go to the XTREME!

by Gabrielle Klein on June 4, 2018 , Comments Off on Jaffa Employees Go to the XTREME!

Through their work helping property owners stay compliant and violation free, the Jaffa employees are no strangers to ensuring that all New Yorkers have a safe roof over their head. But this past Sunday, they took it one step further and took part in the Ohel Xtreme Challenge Classic. Raising awareness and funds for OHEL’s work helping NY’s homeless, at risk and simply those who cannot fend for themselves, the JAFFA TEAM XTREME took a break from crushing violations and crushed the OHEL obstacle course instead.

The challenge took place on the beautiful Camp Kaylie campus in Wurtsboro, NY and featured a series of obstacles both Jaffa employees and family members tackled. And while the course was challenging, the Jaffa Team members recognized that it was in no way as challenging as the daily obstacles that face the individuals OHEL helps on a regular basis. Building upon the teamwork that is crucial part of the Jaffa culture and which allows them to be so effective in tracking, managing, and resolving their clients’ compliances and violations, the team trudged through mud, climbed over walls and completed various obstacles together; feeling exhausted, filthy and exhilarated at the end of the day.  After a particularly grueling challenge, Jaffa COO, Michael Jaffa, commented “tackling challenges is what our team thrives on so today almost feels like a day in the office, just in with a new set of challenges, in a new environment, and towards a great cause”.

All who were a part of the event were honored for the opportunity to give back to the community they serve every day and were excited to have a day of good old fashioned fun!

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10 Ways to be an Awesome Landlord

by Josh Koegel on May 17, 2018 , Comments Off on 10 Ways to be an Awesome Landlord

As a NYC property owner, one of your primary goals is holding onto your tenants. Keeping your units occupied with happy, responsible tenants prevents you from blowing money on frequent turnovers or even sustaining losses from vacant units.

But how do you keep your tenants happy?

At Jack Jaffa & Associates, we’re committed to your success. To help you hold onto your tenants, we’ve compiled a handy list of 10 ways to be the best landlord ever.

1. Screen your tenants carefully

Before you can work on treating them right, make sure you choose responsible, conscientious tenants. Call references and meet with every tenant in person before making a decision. You want your tenants to make your job easier and to keep the atmosphere of the property pleasant and clean.

2. Hand-pick your managers

 If you own multiple rentals, you’ll probably need to outsource your property management. Be super careful about the company you choose to do this job. A manager will not be personally invested in the property’s success the way you are; make sure they’re competent enough to do the job well.

3. Keep it clean, safe and secure

One of the biggest turnoffs to existing and potential tenants is a poorly-kept property. No one wants to live in a dirty, unkempt building. Make sure the exteriors and interiors of your properties are kept meticulously clean and free of debris. Floors should be washed regularly and all garbage around the building should be disposed of promptly.

It’s equally important to keep your properties safe and secure. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly, your building locks are secure, and your HVAC systems are functioning optimally.

Lastly, your properties should be fully compliant with all NYC housing codes. If you’re not absolutely positive you can pass any kind of inspection, be sure to give us a call. At Jack Jaffa & Associates we’ll have you fully compliant with NYC law in no time!

4. Make repairs promptly

Your tenants want to feel cared for and respected. When one of them notifies you of a broken appliance, a leaky pipe, or a defunct furnace, take action as soon as possible. Nothing makes a disgruntled tenant like ignored complaints about a dripping sink or a useless washing machine.

 5. Respect their privacy

Respect the privacy of your tenants. To you, it may be one of your dozens of rental properties, but to them, it’s home. Make sure you notify your tenants well in advance of any visits or inspections. It’s best to provide them with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice before coming to call.

6. Go the extra mile

Don’t just be a good landlord, be a fantastic one! Try to go the extra mile with some of these ideas:

  • Put out a welcome note for your new tenants. You can include general information about the neighborhood and local businesses, along with your own contact details.
  • Host an annual building event. Whether it’s a barbecue at a local park or a quick get-together in your own place, it will create a feeling of family among your tenants.
  • Contact your new tenants one month after they’ve moved in. Ask them about the rental and assure that everything is in working order.

7. Conduct regular inspections

Most landlords fall into the habit of sprucing up their properties only when they are vacant. Get ahead of the game by scheduling routine inspections of your units. Take note of anything that needs repair or maintenance, like a broken appliance, torn carpeting, or peeling paint. This way, you’ll keep your rental properties in perfect condition and looking spiffy at all times.

8. Implement a reward system

As in every business, it’s important to show your customers – or in this case, your tenants – how much you appreciate their patronage. If you have several long-time tenants, consider implementing a reward system. You can offer complimentary carpet-cleaning, painting, or even new furnishings for an extended lease. Promise a free month’s rent for all referrals that end in a newly signed lease. You can also gift your tenants with a small holiday present to show your appreciation for their loyalty.

9. Put it in writing

Prepare your lease document carefully. The lease should detail all of your expectations and responsibilities as a landlord, including the rent collection procedure, property usage, maintenance, repairs, inspections, conflict resolution, lease terminations and evictions.

Having your expectations in writing will help you avoid disagreements and misunderstandings later.

10. Be professional, not personal

If you want your tenants to respect your property, first they need to respect you. Always be friendly and courteous to your tenants but maintain a professional distance. Never indulge in building gossip or engage in overly casual conversation.

By respecting your tenants and their properties, you can be the best landlord ever!

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