Local law 160/2017 went into effect on March 1. Originally passed by the city council in 2017, the law states that the Department of Buildings (DOB) will deny any new building or alteration permits in the DOB NOW database if $25,000 or more in ‘covered arrears’ is owed to New York city by the owner of the property in question. (nyc.gov, 2021)
Covered arrears can include unpaid fines, civil penalties, or other unpaid and past due fees assessed by the DOB, which include, among others, fines owed to the Environmental Control Board (ECB) for not meeting certain regulatory standards.
The new amendment lists several exceptions where a permit may still be granted despite the property owner owning $25,000 or more. Some of these situations include:
· If the applicant submits a certification from the department of finance that an agreement has been made on paying the money owed
· If the permit is necessary to correct an outstanding violation of housing codes in order to protect public health and safety
· A permit may be granted for a portion of the property occupied by a tenant who isn’t responsible for any covered arrears owed
· If the property is part of a rehabilitation program by the department of housing preservation and development or the NYC housing development corporation. (Local law 160 or 2017)
It is also worth noting that the $25,000 or more in fines do not have to be from a single property, but may be added collectively among properties under the same ownership.