Petition: Landlords should go on “tax strike” to counter rent strike

Missive with nearly 1,400 signatures says government is encouraging tenants not to pay

TRD New York /
May.May 03, 2020 11:18 PM
(Credit: iStock, Change.org)

(Credit: iStock, Change.org)

In response to rent strikes, some landlords are threatening a strike of their own.

An online petition headlined “Property Tax relief or Tax strike” has collected nearly 1,400 signatures supporting a call for landlords to withhold their New York City property taxes. The Change.org petition blasts politicians for enabling tenants to not pay rent even if they can.

“We all know that there are tenants that can pay their rent, many of whom are getting severance, all of whom are getting stimulus checks and increased unemployment,” the petition reads. “They aren’t paying, because govt encourages that behavior.”

It also criticizes proposed legislation which would forgive rent and mortgage payments.

The tax strike petition is not endorsed by any real estate industry trade group. Jay Martin, the executive director of the Community Housing Improvement program, said he did not recognize any signers’ names. There is no mechanism for verifying the identities of signatories or the petition organizer.

“I completely understand the frustration but I think it’s as unhelpful as pushing for a rent strike,” said Martin. “We need real leadership and real solutions.”

Some elected officials have urged tenants to pay rent if they are able. “If you can pay the rent, you should pay the rent,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday in Corona, Queens. “There’s a morality in this.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio has also said he disagrees with a rent strike.

But the statements from Cuomo and de Blasio did not satisfy purported petition author Garold Wilder, who wrote, “A responsible landlord can and will work something out with the tenant, but the govt doesn’t give the landlord any tools to do so.. instead, they align with the tenants and that becomes a blanket rule, so any tenants that can pay, now won’t.”

A message left at a listed number for Wilder was not returned. It could not be determined who he is or how a property tax strike would even work, given that tax payments are typically folded into landlords’ mortgage payments and held in escrow by their lenders, who then pay the tax bill.

The petition follows a call for a rent strike in May to compel the state government to cancel rent and mortgage payments. One rent strike organizer said the intent was also to pressure the state to help landlords. But landlord leaders reacted bitterly, with one calling the strike “disgusting.”

The last time New York saw revenue from property taxes and other sources dwindle, leaving the city on the verge of bankruptcy in the 1970s, Lewis Rudin organized other developers to prepay their taxes. Politics have shifted dramatically since then, but the city continues to rely on property taxes, its largest source of revenue.

Many in the real estate industry have called for a reduction in taxes to offset diminished rent collections during the coronavirus. But the city is struggling to close a $7.5 billion deficit, and property taxes make up about a third of its tax revenue.

Jeff Golkin, a tax attorney at Jeffrey Golkin Partners, said that the city’s Tax Commission should allow for hearings in-person — or by phone or Zoom — to reduce assessments on a case-by-case basis. But tax assessments are based on the previous year’s income, which leaves little room for an immediate, pandemic-related reduction. The deadline to appeal 2020-2021 assessment has passed.

“You shouldn’t judge properties today based on the financial situation last year,” said Golkin, who suggested that in-person hearings could have a better outcome for landlords seeking to get a coronavirus-related assessment reduction. “What we have found is that there are judges and hearing officers who believe, as I do, that there has to be an acknowledgement or a judicial notice of that crisis — and do something about it.”


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
The process for challenging property assessments is so antiquated, officials won’t do Zoom meetings. (iStock)

“A recipe for disaster”: Fighting property taxes in a pandemic

“A recipe for disaster”: Fighting property taxes in a pandemic
Jay Martin of the Community Housing Improvement Program and REBNY's James Whelan (Credit: Whelan by Axel Dupeux)

Real estate asks city for property tax mercy

Real estate asks city for property tax mercy
(Credit: iStock)

No Covid break for big properties with unpaid taxes

No Covid break for big properties with unpaid taxes
After the rent law of 2019 passed, multifamily market values plummeted. But tax assessments are unchanged (Credit: iStock)

Rent law dented property values – but not tax assessments

Rent law dented property values – but not tax assessments
Andrew Florance, CEO of CoStar (Photo by Jeffrey MacMillan for the Washington Post)

EXCLUSIVE: CoStar’s Andy Florance on buying Ten-X, the future of office buildings and why brokers don’t need discounts

EXCLUSIVE: CoStar’s Andy Florance on buying Ten-X, the future of office buildings and why brokers don’t need discounts
An institutional investor’s sale of a 7 percent stake in an exchange-traded real estate fund reveals deep concerns about the sector. (Credit: iStock)

Mystery investor dumps big stake in real estate fund

Mystery investor dumps big stake in real estate fund
Thor Equities’ big bet on Fulton Market is paying off

Thor Equities’ big bet on Fulton Market is paying off

Thor Equities’ big bet on Fulton Market is paying off
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Lynn Kotler (inset) and 230 West 147th Street (Credit: NY Courts; Google Maps)

Landlords notch win as judge denies tenants in overcharge case

Landlords notch win as judge denies tenants in overcharge case
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...