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New York State
REAL PROPERTY LAW (RPL)
Laws 1909, Chap. 52


ARTICLE 12-C

APARTMENT INFORMATION VENDORS

Section             446a.  Definitions.
                    446b.  License required.
                    446c.  Contracts; fees; reporting
                           procedures.
                    446d.  Display of license and business
                           sign.
                    446e.  Revocation and suspension of
                           licenses.
                    446f.  Notice of hearing on complaints.
                    446g.  Judicial review.
                    446h.  Violations.
                    446i.  Rules and regulations.
                    446j.  Partial invalidity.

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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
     information vendor.


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
          vendor.

     (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
     information vendor.

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
person aggrieved.


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
remainder thereof.

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