Brooklyn residents who are being “harassed daily” by property developers wanting to buy their homes could soon get some relief.
On Sunday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law forcing the State Department to consider whether Brooklyn should be designated as a real estate “cease and desist zone.”
If it were, Brooklyn homeowners could place themselves on a list prohibiting real estate brokers and salespeople from contacting them.
Any agent found to be contacting homeowners on the list would face a $150 fine for the first infraction, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third. They could also have their real estate license suspended.
“The last thing homeowners should have to deal with are unwanted solicitations at their door,” Governor Hochul said.
“This legislation brings us one step closer to protecting Brooklyn homeowners from aggressive real estate solicitations.”
Followed to the store
Harassment from real estate prospectors has become a very real part of daily life for some Brooklyn homeowners in the past few years.
In East New York and Cypress Hills, residents have reported being followed to the grocery store and laundromat by investors looking to make a quick buck.
Meanwhile, community organizer Coalition for Community Advancement told BK Reader speculators have been harassing and lying to seniors and others in the East New York and Cypress Hills area to get them to sell their homes below market value, so they could resell them for huge profit.
“Many homeowners in parts of Brooklyn are being besieged by aggressive solicitations by real estate brokers,” Assemblymember N. Nick Perry said.
“These sometimes predatory home-buying practices occur totally void of any concern about what happens to the neighborhood and the residents who chose those homes because of the character of the community.”
The Department of State has already made a portion of Brooklyn’s Community Board 5 (CB5) a real estate cease-and-desist zone, due to the pressures residents face.
As of Nov. 2, there were already more than 220 Brooklyn homeowners who had added their names to the list.
With Hochul’s push, the Department of State will now conduct an investigation to determine if Brooklyn needs to be designated as a real estate cease-and-desist zone. The public hearing and investigation on the zoning must be conducted within 90 days.
New York State Senator Kevin Parker, whose district includes parts of Flatbush and East Flatbush, said he applauded the governor’s push to make Brooklyn homeowners a priority, particularly senior citizens.
“This law will protect homeowners from illegal solicitation of their property and will designate zip codes in my district as cease-and-desist zones.
“This is a very important layer of protection for senior citizens who often times fall victims to these solicitations.”
Making Brooklyn a cease-and-desist zone would also protect renters, Wilfredo Florentino, a longtime CB5 board member, told BK Reader in 2020.
“[Real estate speculators] are buying houses and flipping them to ensure that prices continue to balloon,” he said.
“When house prices balloon it also impacts the rental market. That’s why we are seeing rents increasing in the community. It’s meant to displace longtime residents who are majority Black and Brown folks.”