NYC Council Approves Expanded Protections For Small Businesses That Can’t Pay Rent
The New York City Council voted to grant more protection for commercial and residential tenants as the city tries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
In a 44-6 full-body vote, the council enacted Int. 1932-2020 A, a bill that would temporarily change the definition of landlord harassment to include threatening tenants’ assets if they fail to pay rent or default on their lease as a result of the financial fallout of the coronavirus.
This expanded definition of harassment, if the bill is signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will apply to landlords with retail, gym and other tenants that have been forced to shut down their businesses since May.
“Small businesses and restaurants are the heart and soul of New York City and right now, they are hurting. They are paying high fees, getting harassed and are worried about losing their homes,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement. “They need help, and this small business package is designed to protect them during this pandemic.”
Council member Carlina Rivera, who introduced the legislation, told The Gothamist it was “grossly immoral” for landlords to threaten assets amid the pandemic as many tenants are already under financial duress.
The Real Estate Board of New York criticized the measure for being too broad, and a member who voted in favor of the bill pointed out that it would apply to major corporations as well as small businesses, The Real Deal reports.
The bill was one of a slew of coronavirus relief actions considered by the council this week. The council also voted 47-3 to amend the Housing Maintenance Code to make it illegal for landlords to threaten essential employees and those afflicted with COVID-19, punishable by a fine of up to $10K.