The bill’s language is directly aimed at those who bypass sanctions, avoid taxes, fund terrorist organizations and support organized crime. Landlords who use LLCs are more likely to have code violations, higher rents and more evictions attached to their properties compared to “non-corporate” owners, according to the legislation.
“Should we be naming the average person on the street? I think it should be narrowly tailored to where it’s aimed toward those that you want the law to reach,” real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey told CO. “People from out of the country with a certain amount of money who do not live in these residences full time, who are using it for the purpose of money laundering. That’s not what this bill achieves; it’s a very dangerous law and is probably going to cause a lot of problems.”
A hypothetical improved version of the law would target only foreign investors and widen the exemptions for people who need to protect their privacy, such as some of Bailey’s more high-profile clients who, due to their fame, are able to live without interference from fans and stalkers because of their current ability to register their New York City apartments under an LLC.
Cash transactions in particular should be flagged as requiring the disclosure of beneficial owners, according to Bailey, as famous people and legit corporations usually don’t buy property that way.
“There are privacy rules that are supposed to be set up, but, based on the acts of the New York State Legislature, I do not expect their regulations to protect the privacy of my wealthy and famous clientele as well as the ability to prevent crimes that will happen in the future,” Bailey added in an email.
As it stands, the bill has exemptions only for people enrolled in an address confidentiality program or companies acting as a “relator” in what’s called a qui tam action, an LLC bringing charges against individuals or entities on behalf of a government.