Rules Governing Auctioneers and Auction Houses

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Effective Date: 
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Download Copy of Adopted Rule (.pdf): 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Rule


The Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA” or “Department”) is adding new rules relating to auctioneers and auction houses to subchapter M of chapter 2 of title 6 of the Rules of the City of New York.


First, the Department is adding a new rule to clarify that auction houses must receive an auction house license to engage in the business of auctioneering.  Section 20-278 of the New York City Administrative Code states that it is “unlawful for any person to engage in the business of auctioneer without a license therefor.”  “Person” is defined broadly in the Administrative Code to include both businesses and individuals.  See NYC Admin. Code § 20-102.  Auction houses, which are businesses that conduct auctions and employ auctioneers, are required to be licensed under this provision.  Accordingly, the Department has long issued two separate licenses: one for auctioneers and one for auction houses.  Many sections of the Department’s rules already reference licensed auction houses separate from auctioneers.  See 6 R.C.N.Y § 2-121(f); 6 R.C.N.Y. § 2-123(c)(1), (c)(2).  This new rule clarifies the requirements of the Administrative Code and longstanding Department practice that auction houses must be licensed.  It also clarifies that an auction house must use only licensed auctioneers to conduct auctions.


Second, the Department is adding a new rule to require that auctioneers must notify a winning bidder within seven days of the auction if the auctioneer opts to cancel the sale of the lot or reoffer and resell the lot.  Currently, many auctioneers and auction houses have significant discretion under their own auction terms and conditions to cancel sales at any time because of potential errors or disputes related to bidding.  Such cancelations create significant confusion for buyers.  To prevent abuse and ensure finality with respect to auction sales, the new rule establishes a deadline by which an auctioneer or auction house must identify an error or dispute and notify the successful buyer of its decision to cancel the sale or reoffer and resell the lot.