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Volume 10 - Opinions of Counsel SBRPS No. 3

Opinions of Counsel index

Sales reporting (public inspection and copying) (effect of L.1993, c.257) - Public Officers Law, § 87; Real Property Tax Law, § 574; 9 NYCRR 191-2.4:

Effective July 1, 1994, all real property transfer report forms (EA-5217 (to be renumbered RP-5217 when reprinted after January 1, 1995)) are available for public inspection or copying, regardless of whether the conveyance to which the EA-5217 pertains occurred prior to that date or whether the EA-5217 itself was filed prior to that date.

As originally enacted (L.1980, c.751), subdivision 5 of section 574 of the Real Property Tax Law provided that real property transfer report forms (i.e., EA-5217 (to be renumbered RP-5217 when reprinted after January 1, 1995)) filed pursuant to that section and section 333 of the Real Property Law were available for public inspection and copying only for purposes of administrative and judicial review of assessments, as provided in the State Board’s rules (9 NYCRR 191-2.4. {1}  We have addressed this limited statutory exception to the Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law, §87(2)(a)) in several of our opinions (7 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 94; 8 id. Nos. 9, 30; 9 id. No. 82).

Effective July 1, 1994, section 574(5) was amended (by L.1993, c.257) to remove the restriction on access; it now reads: “Forms or reports filed pursuant to this section or section [333] of the real property law shall be made available for public inspection or copying in accordance with rules promulgated by the state board.” The question is whether the elimination of the restrictions on access applies to all 5217 forms regardless of the date of filing or only to forms filed on or after July 1, 1994.

The amended statutory language is broad in scope with no indication that its effect is to be only prospective. Nor have the sponsors of the bill which became chapter 257 indicated that their intent was anything other than to provide for all real property transfer reports to be available for public inspection or copying once the statutory revisions became effective. Therefore, it is our opinion that the expansion of public access to 5217 forms, which commenced July 1, 1994 pursuant to the amended statute, applies to all 5217 forms, no matter when filed, and not just to forms filed on or after July 1, 1994.

January 26, 1994
Revised August 31, 1994
Reissued May 1995


{1}  Rule repealed subsequent to issuance of opinion.

Updated: