2009-06-12 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

Commentary By Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer

AUDREY PHEFFER AUDREY PHEFFER The New York State Cease and Desist Program has helped thousands of New Yorkers avoid the unanted solicitation by real estate brokers seeking to encourage homeowners to sell their homes.

The Cease and Desist Program requires the Secretary of State to maintain a record of all Queens homeowners who have affirmatively sought to have their names and addresses placed on a Do Not Contact list. This list, updated every six months, is then distributed to real estate brokers so they can avoid contacting those homeowners.

If a homeowner is improperly contacted by a broker in person, by phone, mail or any other manner that broker is subject to fines and possible license suspension. In 2008 alone, the Secretary of State levied over $20,000 in such fines, and a number of complaints are still being adjudicated by the Department.

By law, the program expires every five years unless the Department of State finds sufficient evidence for the need to renew the list.

Without such evidence, the program will end on August 1 and brokers will be free to contact all Queens property owners to solicit the sale of homes, which could destabilize our community. I recently co-sponsored a public hearing where the NYS Secretary of State accepted testimony in support of the continuation of the Real Estate Cease and Desist Program for Queens.

In addition to the formal hearing, which was held on Thursday, May 28, the Department of State will continue to accept written testimony through June 25, 2009.

It is vital that the Department receive a sufficient level of support letters to justify the need to continue this valuable program.

I encourage everyone to forward a letter to the Department of State along with any specific complaints about past activities by those few unscrupulous brokers who prey upon local residents.

You are welcome to contact my office at 718-945-9550 to obtain a copy of a sample letter.

You may also deliver your correspondence to my office at 90-16 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Rockaway Beach before June 20, 2009 and I will be happy to submit them for you.

The letters should be addressed as follows:
Mr. Aqil Qureshi
NYS Department of State
123 Williams Street, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10038

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