Activity over the past week while in stay-at-home mode centered around rentals; countless conversations, searches, having leases drafted, and pandemic related complications, including tenants who signed leases prior to the outbreak wanting to cancel due to employment layoff, worry about the future, or simply wanting to switch rental homes from one to another.
On the evening of April 1st, NY State, which holds real estate agents’ licenses, amended the description of what real estate licensees could do in the course of business, which was then misinterpreted by many to mean that in-person showings could resume. The following day, NY State clarified that real estate agents were to continue to work from home, although “virtual” tours via Facetime or video were acceptable. Agents who disregard this mandate can be fined $2K, charged with a misdemeanor or have their license suspended or revoked. Over the weekend, a real estate broker showing one of my listings confirmed both in writing and verbally that theirs would be a virtual tour, however when there was a complication with accessing a locked door, it was discovered that the broker was in fact conducting an in-person showing with customers. Patrick Reilly, Vice President of the NY State Association of Realtors, said “there seem to be a number of ethics violations that have been reported during this period…being handled in accordance with existing grievance procedures. It should be mentioned that not all licensees are Realtors [members of a Realtor association] so they may not be receiving the same quality of
information that we are receiving [from NY State].”
On the topic of compliance and confusion, this week Landlords with registered rentals received the following message from the Shelter Island Code Enforcer: “The Town has received notice of concern that…owners of rental property are advertising for guests from the Tri -State Area but that, upon arrival, the guests are not self-quarantining for 14 days in compliance with the federal guidelines. We are reaching out at this time to ascertain what steps you are taking to ensure the health and safety of your guests and the larger community. Please let us know what steps you are taking to ensure that guests from NYC and Westchester County self quarantine as recommended.” Several clients were confused as to whether this concerned the Tri-State Area or just NYC and Westchester. “How about Connecticut?” one client asked today.
At their weekly work session this week, the Town Board met Ulrik Binzer of Host Compliance, dubbed “The Digital Sheriff” by NPR.com, who presented his software which has a price of nearly $20k per year and which tracks activity of rental properties across 16 websites, linking back to Town registered files. Binzer noted that the program collects enough evidence that would stand up in court against “serial offenders.” After an exhaustive presentation, it appeared that the Board was leaning toward selecting software options a la carte. Councilman Jim
Colligan called the Shelter Island rental registration law “the most fair and equitable of all East End Towns, and for the common good.”
It is hard to believe that Passover and Easter are this week. On Sunday in a rare broadcast, only the fifth in her 68-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II delivered a message of hope and strength, that is fitting to both spiritual rebirth and the uncertain times in which we celebrate these Springtime holidays. “Using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal, we will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us. We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.”