New York State
REAL PROPERTY LAW (RPL)
Laws 1909, Chap. 52
APARTMENT INFORMATION VENDORS
Section 446a. Definitions.
446b. License required.
446c. Contracts; fees; reporting
446d. Display of license and business
446e. Revocation and suspension of
446f. Notice of hearing on complaints.
446g. Judicial review.
446i. Rules and regulations.
446j. Partial invalidity.
Sec. 446-a. Definitions.
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
1. "Person" means any natural person, corporation, partnership,
firm, or association.
2. "Apartment information vendor" means any person who engages
in the business of claiming, demanding, charging, receiving,
collecting, or contracting for the collection of, a fee from
a customer for furnishing information concerning the
location and availability of real property, including
apartment housing, which may be leased, rented, shared or
sublet as a private dwelling, abode, or place of residence.
The definition of apartment information vendor shall include
an apartment sharing agent which means any person who, for a
fee, arranges, conducts, coordinates, handles or causes
meetings between a customer and the current owner or
occupant of legally occupied real property, including
apartment housing, who wishes to share that housing with one
or more individuals as a private dwelling, abode or place of
residence, but it shall not apply to any person who for
another and for a fee, commission or other valuable
consideration, supervises, organizes, arranges, coordinates,
handles or is otherwise in charge of or responsible for the
relocation of commercial or residential tenants from
buildings or structures that are to be demolished,
rehabilitated, remodeled or otherwise structurally altered.
3. "Advance fee" means any fee claimed, demanded, charged,
received or collected from a customer before the customer
has leased or rented a private dwelling, abode or place of
residence through the information provided by an apartment
Sec. 446-b. License required.
1. It is unlawful for any person to act or engage in the
business as an apartment information vendor in this state
without first having obtained a license from the secretary
of state. No person shall be granted a license until he has
established that he is trustworthy and bears a reputation
for good and fair dealing.
2. The application for such license shall be filed in the
office of the secretary of state on such forms as the
secretary may prescribe and shall be accompanied by a fee of
four hundred dollars.
3. When the apartment information vendor maintains more than
one place of business, he shall apply for and the secretary
shall issue a supplemental license for each branch office so
maintained upon payment of a fee of two hundred fifty
dollars for each supplemental license so issued.
Supplemental licenses shall be conspicuously displayed in
each branch office. The display of an expired license by any
person, firm, partnership or corporation is a violation of
the provisions of this article.
4. From and after the date when this subdivision shall take
effect, the term for which a license shall be issued or
reissued under this article shall be a period of one year
beginning the first day of November in any year and ending
the thirty-first day of October one year later. A license
which takes effect on a day other than the first day of
November in any year shall extend for a term expiring on the
thirty-first day of October following the date on which the
license takes effect.
5. Any license granted under the provisions hereof may be
renewed for one year by the secretary upon application
therefor by the holder, in such form as the secretary may
prescribe, and payment of a two hundred fifty dollar fee for
such license. The secretary may dispense with the
requirement for the filing of such statements as was
contained in the original application for license.
6. Every applicant for a license under the provisions of this
section, shall establish and maintain a special interest
bearing trust account in the minimum amount of five thousand
dollars in a branch of a national or state chartered banking
institution having a place of business within the state,
plus twenty-five hundred dollars for each additional
licensed office, except that any applicant whose business is
limited exclusively to acting as an apartment sharing agent
shall be required to establish and maintain an account of
only twenty-five hundred dollars plus twelve hundred fifty
dollars for each additional licensed office. No license
shall be issued unless a copy of a certificate of deposit
showing the minimum balance in said special interest bearing
trust account has been filed with the secretary
simultaneously with the filing of the license application.
Moneys may be withdrawn, from such account only upon the
certification of the secretary.
7. No license shall be granted to a person under the age of
eighteen or a corporation, partnership or association whose
principal shareholder or partner is under such age.
Sec. 446-c. Contracts; fees; reporting procedures.
1. Every apartment information vendor licensed under this
article shall furnish customers with a contract prepared on
a form approved by the secretary of state. Such contract
shall include in plain language form a statement setting
forth the sources of information concerning the location and
availability of real property, including apartment housing,
which may be leased, rented, shared or sublet as a private
dwelling, abode, or place of residence.
1-a. Each listing of real property furnished by the apartment
information vendor shall cite the source of information for
each property in plain language form, provided, however,
that the failure to provide such information shall not
constitute a violation of this article but shall be grounds
for license suspension pursuant to section four hundred
forty-six-e of this article.
2. No apartment information vendor shall claim, demand, charge,
receive, collect or contract for an advance fee from a
customer except as set forth in subdivision five of this
section. In no event shall the fee charged to the customer
or legal occupant exceed one month's rent.
3. Notwithstanding the above, an apartment information vendor
may at any time accept a fee from the current legal occupant
of real property including apartment housing available to
share or sublet.
4. Each apartment information vendor shall file a quarterly
report with the secretary containing such information as the
secretary may require.
5. (a) An apartment information vendor may retain not
more than fifteen dollars out of any advance fee for
administrative services. The balance of any advance fee
shall be placed in an account similar to that required
by subdivision six of section four hundred forty-six-b
of this article, except that it need not be interest
bearing and moneys from such account may be withdrawn
as provided in paragraph (b) of this subdivision. The
balance of the advance fee shall continue to be the
property of the person paying the advance fee and shall
be held in trust by the apartment information vendor.
Such balance may be mingled with other moneys in such
account and any interest thereon shall be the property
of the apartment information vendor. Such vendor shall
notify in writing each person paying an advance fee
giving the name and address of the banking organization
in which the advance fee is deposited.
(b) If the customer pays an advance fee, the contract with
the apartment information vendor shall contain a
provision stating that the customer may, under the
circumstances set forth in this paragraph, recover his
advance fee less the amount deducted for administrative
services. The vendor shall be entitled to his fee when
a customer has leased or rented a private dwelling,
abode or place of residence through the information
provided by the vendor. Within ten days of the receipt
by the apartment information vendor of written notice
stating that the customer paying an advance fee has not
leased or rented a private dwelling, abode or place of
residence through the information supplied by the
vendor and does not intend to rent any such private
dwelling, abode or place of residence, the vendor shall
refund the advance fee, less the fee for administrative
services, to such customer. The vendor shall also be
required to refund any portion of the advance fee in
excess of one month's rent to a customer who has leased
or rented a private dwelling, abode or place of
residence through the information supplied by the
(c) Notwithstanding anything in this subdivision five to
the contrary, if the services to be rendered by the
apartment information vendor to a particular customer
relate exclusively to acting as an apartment sharing
agent, the vendor may retain the full advance fee,
whether or not the customer leases or rents a private
dwelling, abode or place of residence through the
information provided by the vendor, and the provisions
of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subdivision five
shall not be applicable to such transaction.
Sec. 446-d. Display of license and business sign.
1. A license issued hereunder shall be conspicuously displayed
at all times by the apartment information vendor at the
place of business for which it was granted.
2. The secretary shall be notified in writing at his office in
Albany of any change of a licensee's business address or
name, and the secretary shall issue a license for the
unexpired term, upon return of the original license and the
payment of a fee of twenty dollars. A licensee who fails to
notify the secretary of any change in business address or
name within ten days shall forfeit his license.
Sec. 446-e. Revocation and suspension of licenses.
1. Powers of secretary of state. The secretary may revoke or
suspend a license, impose a fine not to exceed five thousand
dollars, order refunds to aggrieved parties, and issue
reprimands, upon a finding that a licensee has violated any
of the provisions of this article, or has made a material
misstatement in his application for such license, or has
been found to be engaged in fraudulent practices, dishonest
or misleading advertising, or has demonstrated
untrustworthiness or incompetency to act as an apartment
2. Determination of secretary. In the event that the secretary
shall revoke or suspend any such license, impose a fine or
issue a reprimand, his determination shall be in writing and
signed by him. The original thereof shall be filed in the
office of the secretary and copies served personally or by
registered mail upon the licensee, addressed to his
principal place of business. All licenses shall be returned
to the secretary within five days after receipt of notice of
revocation or suspension, or in lieu thereof, the licensee
shall make and file an affidavit in form prescribed by the
secretary showing that the failure to return such license is
due either to loss or destruction thereof.
3. The display of a license after revocation or suspension
thereof is a violation of this article.
Sec. 446-f. Notice of hearing on complaints.
The secretary shall, before denying an application for, revoking
or suspending a license, or imposing any fine or issuing a
reprimand to the licensee, and at least ten days prior to the
date set for the hearing, notify in writing the applicant, or
licensee of any charges made and shall afford said applicant or
licensee an opportunity to be heard in person or by counsel in
reference thereto. Such written notice may be served by delivery
thereof personally to the applicant or licensee, or by registered
mail to the last known business address of such licensee, or in
the case of an applicant to the business address indicated on the
application for license. The hearing on such charges shall be at
such time and place as the secretary shall prescribe. The
secretary, acting by such officer or person as he may designate,
shall have the power to suspend a license pending a hearing and
to subpoena and bring before the officer or person so designated
any person, firm or corporation in this state, and administer an
oath to and take testimony of any person or cause his deposition
to be taken. A subpoena issued under this section shall be
regulated by the civil practice law and rules.
Sec. 446-g. Judicial review.
The action of the secretary in granting or refusing to grant or
to renew a license under this article or in revoking or
suspending such a license or imposing any fine or issuing a
reprimand to the licensee or refusing to do any of the foregoing
shall be subject to review by a proceeding brought under and
pursuant to article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and
rules at the instance of the applicant for such license or holder
of a license so revoked, suspended, fined or reprimanded or the
Sec. 446-h. Violations.
1. Misdemeanors. Any person, firm or corporation violating any
provision of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
The commission of a single act prohibited by this article
shall constitute a violation hereof.
2. Criminal actions for violations of this article shall be
prosecuted by the attorney general, or his deputy, in the
name of the people of the state, and in any such prosecution
the attorney general, or his deputy, shall exercise all the
powers and perform all the duties which the district
attorney would otherwise be authorized to exercise or to
perform therein. The attorney general shall, upon a
conviction for a violation of any provision of this article,
and within ten days thereafter, make and file with the
secretary a detailed report showing the date of such
conviction, the name of the person convicted and the exact
nature of the charge.
3. In case the offender shall have received any sum of money as
compensation or profit by or in consequence of his violation
of any provision of this article, he shall also be liable to
a penalty of not less than the amount of the sum of money
received by him as such compensation or profit and not more
than four times the sum so received by him, as may be
determined by the court, which penalty may be sued for and
recovered by any person aggrieved and for his use and
benefit, in any court of competent jurisdiction.
4. The secretary shall have the power to enforce the provisions
of this article and upon complaint of any person, or on his
own initiative, to investigate the business, business
practices and business methods of any person, firm or
corporation applying for or holding a license as an
apartment information vendor, if in his opinion such
investigation is warranted. Each such applicant or licensee
shall be obliged, on request of the secretary to supply such
information as may be required concerning his or its
business, business practices or business methods, or
proposed business practices or methods.
5. For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this article
and in making investigations relating to any violation
thereof, and for the purpose of investigating the character,
competency and integrity of the applicants or licensees
hereunder, and for the purpose of investigating the
business, business practices and business methods of any
applicant or licensee, or of the officers or agents thereof,
the secretary shall have the power to subpoena and bring
before the officer or person so designated any person in
this state and require the production of any books or papers
which he deems relevant to the inquiry and administer an
oath to and take testimony of any person or cause his
deposition to be taken with the same fees and mileage and in
the same manner as prescribed by law for civil cases in a
court of record, except that any applicant or licensee or
officer or agent thereof shall not be entitled to such fees
and/or mileage. Any person, duly subpoenaed, who fails to
obey such subpoena without reasonable cause or without such
cause refuses to be examined or to answer any legal or
pertinent question as to the character or qualification of
such applicant or licensee or such applicant's or licensee's
business, business practices and methods or such violations,
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
6. In any criminal proceeding before any court, magistrate or
grand jury, or upon any investigation before the department
of state for a violation of any of the provisions of this
section, the court, magistrate or grand jury, or the
secretary of state, his deputy or other officer conducting
the investigation, may confer immunity, in accordance with
the provisions of the criminal procedure law.
Sec. 446-i. Rules and regulations.
The secretary may enact rules and regulations necessary to
accomplish the purposes of this article.
Sec. 446-j. Partial invalidity.
If any provision of this article shall be held unconstitutional,
invalid or ineffective, in whole or in part, such determination
shall not be deemed to affect, impair, or invalidate the