New York State Bans Private Transfer Fee Obligations; Joins Majority

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On September 23, 2011, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Senate Bill 5203A and Assembly Bill 7358A, codified as the “Private Transfer Fee Obligation Act” in Article 15 of the New York Real Property Law. The new law imposes a ban on all new private transfer fees (“PTFs”), and provides notice, disclosure and remedy procedures for existing private transfer fee obligations. With the passage of this law, New York has joined the majority of states which have enacted legislation that completely bans, limits and/or requires the disclosure of PTFs.

In practice, PTFs have also been dubbed “Wall Street home resale fees,” “private transfer taxes,” “reconveyance fees,” “capital recovery fees,” “residential transfer fees,” and “transfer fee covenants.” These charges, whatever they may be called, usually amount to one percent (1%) or more of the sales price and are automatically inserted into the contract of sale on real property, to be paid by the seller to the original developer of the property or their designee, oftentimes a third party that holds no ownership interest in the property, every time the property is transferred for up to 99 years. They are usually buried within dozens or hundreds of pages of documents, or, in some instances, are found in a separate declaration affecting the property filed by the original developer. Prospective buyers and owners may not be aware of these fees until closing or, worse, when they try to sell the home years later and the fee shows up in a document obtained in connection with a title search of the property. The failure to pay the PTFs at closing typically results in a lien being imposed on the property.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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