The New York City Council is introducing a suite of bills aimed at assisting tenants and small businesses, with measures that would allow those impacted by Covid-19 more time to pay rent and debts.
The legislation — to debut at the council’s first remote hearing Wednesday — also incorporates anti-harassment measures for renters, announced the City Council.
“These bills provide relief where it is needed most right now, including protecting tenants from eviction,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement. “It’s essential that New Yorkers get the rent cancellation they need, but in the meantime, we need to give renters peace of mind that we won’t let them suffer irreparable harms.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has previously said the state “took care of the rent issue,” but the only policy in place is a three-month eviction moratorium. Some politicians have called to extend the moratorium an additional six months after the state of emergency ends.
But the city’s proposed legislation aims to provide long-term relief from eviction and debt collection by blocking marshals and sheriffs from taking property or executing money judgements until April 2021, the council said. This would pause evictions and debt collections for residential and commercial tenants in the city while giving renters more time to pay rent.
Landlords have been working out rent issues on a case-by-case basis. And while stimulus checks are flowing to many renters’ bank accounts this month, many landlords are bracing for renters to stop paying rent amid the crisis, which has triggered unprecedented layoffs across industries.
And to ensure that landlords do not harass or discriminate against tenants who cannot pay up because of the crisis, the council is proposing legislation that would penalize such acts against those impacted by Covid-19 with fines from $2,000 to $10,000. On the commercial side, the fines would range from $10,000 to $50,000.
The council is also weighing two other bills aimed at assisting commercial tenants: one that would suspend personal liability provisions in commercial leases for businesses impacted while the state of emergency is in effect, and another that would suspend annual sidewalk cafe fees.
The package of bills also includes a “NYC Essential Workers’ Bill of Rights.” Those measures, if passed, would provide a variety of relief for essential workers, from mandating that employers pay premiums for certain essential non-salaried workers during the state of emergency to prohibiting firing essential workers without just cause.
Write to Mary Diduch at [email protected]