The story covered in the links below illustrates so much of what is wrong with the way we are currently governed, nationally or locally. Though this story applies specifically to New York, we believe that this article should serve as a warning to those who believe that they can stay out of “politics”, whether those who refrain from voting due to apathy or to not seeing any “difference between the parties”, or even anyone who who doesn’t fight every day to protect their rights and property.
The story was brought to our attention by one of our contributors whose relative, a NY real estate agent, is profoundly impacted by this development.
NY has been one of the only places in the country in which when a tenant seeks to rent an apartment or house from a landlord, the real estate broker’s fees are paid by the tenant. In almost all places these fees are covered by the landlords. Since apartments in NYC often rent for $3000/month or more and these fees can be up to a month and a half’s rent, these fees can amount to more than $4000, which tenants must pay up front, in addition to a first month’s rent and a security deposit.
Last summer, a new law was passed which, per the understanding of Real Estate brokers in NY, limited the amount of fees that a real estate agency could charge for background checks on prospective tenants. This led to monetary losses for many brokers as this fee of $20 often did not cover the broker’s actual costs but the difference was not that great and it did not present such a shock to the industry. But on or around January 31st a “guidance” was issued by the Department of State, “interpreting” the law as applying to all broker’s fees, when a broker represents a landlord in a rental. This meant that literally overnight, a fee of thousands of dollars was now incumbent on a landlord rather than on a tenant. There was no warning that this change would happen, it was not put into effect by a legislature and there was no lead time to either challenge the law/interpretation or for the market to adjust accordingly.
As with many laws and regulations, this was ostensibly to protect tenants against predatory landlords but did not foresee that landlords would merely pass these fees onto tenants in the form of higher rents, which would end up costing tenants more money in the long run. It also led to confusion among prospective tenants who were not aware that brokers could still charge tenants these fees if they represented the tenants rather than the landlords.
In any case, this article is not about the thicket of real estate laws and fees in a particular jurisdiction. This article is about the perils of a society governed not by laws or legislatures but by bureaucrats who, with the stroke of a pen, can upend an entire industry, affecting the jobs and livelihoods of tens of thousands, with no warning to those affected. We often read about the dangers of the administrative state. This is a horrific example. And of course one of the reasons for the administrative state is to give plausible deniability to the legislators who are busy naming post offices and streets, while ignoring the actual effects of laws they vote for. Interestingly, legislators in New York are paid rather handsomely for their efforts. In a free state like New Hampshire, legislators are paid $100 per year.
This article is also a reminder of the important reasons that government should not be involved in any private transactions. Broker’s fees (in any field) should be subject to the market and negotiations between the involved parties. Once government is involved, they propose solutions which lead to problems, and subsequent solutions which only lead to more problems, and so on. (See Atlas Shrugged.)
This should serve as (another) wake-up call to those of us who think that we can go about our daily business without being molested by the government.
Statists NEVER rest!
There is never a day during which they are not plotting to take away rights, freedoms, property, and choices from we the people. Citizens are forced to stay hyper-vigilant. This is no different than any protection racket. Either we take care of our legislators or bureaucrats can be unleashed on us and take away our livelihoods.
Citizens really have no choice. As we at Liberty Block say, “if you don’t work against the government now, you will find yourself working for the government later” because they will find a way to take every penny you have. When your friends, family, and neighbors dismiss you with the classic phrase “I don’t really care about politics”, tell them it’s irrelevant whether they care about politics, because politics sure cares about them. And eventually, politics will destroy their lives.
Get involved, stay involved, and stay vigilant. Tyrants in your state are plotting to destroy your freedoms at this very moment.