BPI Blog

Apartment Information Vendor

December 8, 2017 | By Charles Botensten

Q: What is an Apartment Information Vendor?  Are licensed real estate brokers, associate real estate brokers and salespersons exempt from needing this license?

A: An Apartment Information Vendor (“AIV”) is defined under New York Real Property Law Section 446-b (the “AIV Law”) as, “any person who engages in the business of claiming, demanding , charging, receiving, collecting or contracting for the collection of, a fee from a consumer 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 important portion of the definition is the term “furnishing information.” For example, an AIV provides consumers, for a fee, with lists of available apartments that meet certain criteria.     

It is unlawful for anyone to engage in the AIV business without first having obtained a license from the Secretary of State.  Some of the regulations an AIV must comply with include; (i) providing a full refund (less a $15 administration fee) if the lists sold by the AIV do not lead to the rental of an apartment; (ii) citing the source of any property listed; (iii) charging a fee that does not exceed one month’s rent and (iv) holding the fee paid by the consumer in a bank account while the consumer is using the services of the AIV.  The license application fee is $400, is good for one year and is renewable each subsequent year for a $250 fee.    

Licensed real estate brokers, associate real estate brokers and salespersons (“Real Estate Licensees”) are not exempt from the AIV Law.  Accordingly, Real Estate Licensees who engage in activities that fit the statutory definition of an AIV (i.e. selling lists of available properties) must obtain the AIV license in order to lawfully conduct such a business.   

For more information on the AIV Law and the AIV license you can visit the New York State Department of State, Division of Licensing Services website.

The Legal Line Question by:
Neil B. Garfinkel
REBNY Broker Counsel

Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP

 

Apartment Information Vendors and Apartment Sharing Agents

June 8, 2018 | By Charles Botensten

Q: What is a New York Apartment Information Vendor and what is a New York Apartment Sharing Agent?

A: According to the New York Real Property Law § 446-a(2), an Apartment Information Vendor ("AIV") is an individual who, for a fee, provides 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." Included within the definition of an AIV is an Apartment Sharing Agent ("ASA"), which is an individual who, for a fee, seeks out roommates for the "current owner or occupant" of real property, if that current owner or occupant "wishes to share that housing… as a private dwelling, abode or place of residence…"

One example of an AIV is a person who, for a subscription fee, publishes a weekly bulletin that contains information about the location and availability of apartments for rent within a particular geographic location. If that bulletin contains information about apartments in which the current owner or occupant is seeking a roommate, then he or she would be considered an ASA.

According to the New York State Department of State ("DOS"), there are currently only 12 AIVs and 8 ASAs licensed in New York State. In order to apply to become an AIV or an ASA you must complete an Apartment Information Vendor/Apartment Sharing Agent Application available on the Department of State’s website.

Important Tip: Please note that the DOS has taken the position that a licensed real estate broker who "operated an internet business which offered apartment listings and related information for a fee" should have had a separate AIV license in addition to the real estate broker's license.  When the real estate broker refused to obtain the AIV license, the DOS suspended the real estate broker's license. 

If you are unsure as to whether you must obtain an AIV or ASA license, please contact legal counsel at your company.

The Legal Line Question by:
Neil B. Garfinkel
REBNY Broker Counsel

Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP