If Your Beagle Has Been Singled Out In The Past, This is Good News for You

There is a new proposed bill in the New York legislature that may prevent landlords from banning specific breeds of dog from their properties. If New York Assembly Bill A2065A passes, landlords will still be allowed to ban tenants from owning any animals or ban particular animals if that animal has a history of violence, but they will no longer be allowed to ban specific breeds entirely. Although this rule will only apply to New York leases, it’s an example of how often changes occur, often without those effected having any advance notice.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, always remember the rules and regulations surrounding rental properties are constantly changing at both the state and federal level.  A landlord in New York who has a lease banning beagles could find themselves in trouble.  Likewise, a beagle-owning tenant looking for a new apartment should know their breed cannot be singled out. Having an attorney review your lease, whether you are a landlord renewing or a tenant looking for a new home, is always the best way to ensure your lease is in line with the rules and regulations of your state – and the rights of both you and your beagle are fully protected.

A Few Things to Keep In Mind About Overtime…

On December 1, 2016 the rules regarding the overtime regulations for white collar workers are going to take effect. Overtime pay will remain one and a half times the regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a work week, but the rules surrounding overtime, and those who qualify for overtime, will see some changes.

All hourly employees will still qualify for overtime pay, but the rules for salaried workers are going to change, however the test that determines which salaried employees qualify for overtime is being raised for the first time since 2004. The salary threshold will rise from $455 per week, or $23,660 for a full-year worker to $913 per week, or $47,476 for a full-year worker. This amount has been calculated based on national census data. Rather than having to issue new rules every few decades, as in the past, the new rules have also included a recalculation of the threshold every three years starting in 2020.

The exemptions for managers and administrators will not change.  Administrators and managers whose wage is above the salary threshold still will not qualify for overtime. The current overtime laws have long courted controversy because of this exemption. Many employees accused their employers of giving them fake job titles to ensure they did not have to pay them overtime, but the new salary threshold will hopefully offer protection to anyone who may be overlooked in the current system. There will still be a number of professions who are exempt from these overtime laws including teachers, doctors and highly compensated employees or HCE’s according to federal regulations.

The overtime laws were put in place to ensure workers were not forced into long hours without proper compensation. Employees who needed employers to work more hours were forced to hire more employees and those who only occasionally needed overtime work could simply choose to pay workers the occasional higher wage. The drastic changes to the salary threshold could play out in several ways as some employers are threatening to reduce salaried workers to hourly or lowering starting salaries, but the changes are intended to give more workers either more reasonable hours or better compensation.

Small businesses have the most freedom of choice in this situation because, depending on your business and your employees, you can decide on a smaller scale how to make these changes work for your business.  However, you do need to keep them in mind. Failure to comply with federal overtime law can lead to serious ramifications and lawsuits. You can read more at the Department of labor website here. If you have any questions, you should consult your business’s financial advisers and your business attorney.

I Want My Kids To Have The Best Start Possible

Right? Who doesn’t? Well, Debbie Downer is back with some stories of parents who helped their kids get a start in the world by co-signing student loans, mortgages or otherwise becoming financially obligated for their kids’ debts.  Picture this: your daughter has the wedding of her dreams and after a year of wedded bliss in an apartment, they decide it’s time to become first-time home buyers.  How exciting! Soon you’ll have grand-kids playing in the big back yard just waiting for grandpa and grandma to visit!

House hunting, the kids fall short of the lending requirements for that dream house and it looks like the dream of home ownership is about to go up in flames.

But wait! The lender asks if anyone can co-sign for the kids and you are only too happy to help.  Several years go by, and right on target arrive grandchild #1, the #2.  Life is good and you and your wife are looking at another 10 years until retirement.  You decide to downsize.  There’s not a lot of equity in your home, but getting rid of the debt and into a smaller, less expensive property is a high priority, so you do some home shopping of your own.

This is where Debbie Downer enters the picture.  Your lender runs your credit and sees your obligation on your daughter’s home as well.  This new debt/income ratio leaves you unable to even downsize.  WHAT! HOW CAN THAT BE?

So you ask your daughter and son-in-law to refinance and take you off the mortgage.  Well, guess what (don’t forget about Debbie’s role in this story please) – during that conversation the kids break the news that divorce is filed and your son-in-law recently quit paying the mortgage.  It’s not hit your credit report yet, but it won’t be long now.

What to do?

If you could do it again follow the famously coined advice of Nancy Regan and “just say no.” It’s not tough love – it’s reality.  If the kids do not qualify for the mortgage in the first place, that means they cannot afford it.  Go smaller, less expensive or remain a tenant until circumstances change.

How about those student loans? If you sign on the dotted line, the interest rate is better and as we all know, the kids will have to pay back any student loan obligation because there is no way out of it.  Right?  So with your signature (encouragement, love, blood, sweat and tears) your kid gets through 4 years of undergraduate, and 4 years of graduate school leaving with an advanced degree and the prospect of a long and lucrative career.  He also graduates owing Uncle Sam about $200,000 dollars, but that six figure salary easily offsets the monthly obligation.

Wait a minute…Debbie is back and WHAM…right after graduation your son is tragically killed.  As if losing your son is not enough, what do you think happens to those loans?

You guessed it – Uncle Sam will be knocking on your door looking for that $200,000.  Now there are ways to mitigate Debbie’s horrible scenario, such as getting a term life insurance policy in an amount to cover the loan in the event the unthinkable happens.  But remember,  that life insurance policy, although a great idea to cover the most tragic of circumstances, does not help if your kid can’t find a job, or runs into financial trouble down the road.

What can we at Bergmann & Good do to guide you through these daily financial decisions? Lending and credit obligations are our specialty.  Give us a call before you sign.  If you own a business, there may be even more creative ways to offer your kids the best, while protecting your nest egg for retirement. Call us first and hopefully you’ll never have to meet Debbie Downer.