Sometimes a mayor can’t win. This mayor, anyway.
Bill de Blasio managed to upset landlords and tenants alike by tweeting that rent payments should be postponed for a year.
Thursday’s tweet triggered hundreds of comments from irate landlords saying he had gone too far — and from tenants saying he had not gone far enough.
A good number called for the mayor to quit. “How can you encourage tenants not to pay rent for 12 months?” one asked. “Are you sick? Are you out of your mind? Donate your salary, you are evil. Resign.”
De Blasio’s post first took credit for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order extending a 90-day ban on evictions for nonpayment of rent through Aug. 20.
“Yes! Yes! Yes! From putting security deposits towards rent to expanding eviction bans, we’ve been pushing Albany to take bold action for tenants. Thank you @NYGovCuomo for heeding the call,” de Blasio tweeted, no doubt aware that Cuomo hates when the mayor claims that he pressured the governor to act.
But if that upset Cuomo, what the mayor wrote next set off landlords and tenants:
“Now’s the time to go even further,” de Blasio continued. “Tenants are hurting. We need to let every New Yorker who needs it to be able to defer rent payments for up to 12 months.”
Now’s the time to go even further. Tenants are hurting. We need to let every New Yorker who needs it to be able to defer rent payments for up to 12 months.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 7, 2020
NY1 anchor Errol Louis quickly pointed out the consequences of such a policy. “That would be one helluva balloon payment due on day 366,” he observed dryly.
That is why many tenants want rent canceled outright. “Thank you, Mayor. However, this is a stopgap measure,” wrote @Mamapickney. “He should cancel rent until people are able to be back to work.” The mayor, however, does not have that power.
Tenant @AGtweet2 agreed, writing, “Postponed rent will not help us.” She added: “The rent will accumulate only. How will we pay when this ends?”
Numerous other comments called for rent to be canceled. “What’s the point in using my security deposit to pay rent when I’ll just have to pay it back over time?” asked @JerryMandre. “I will NEVER make this money back. I will FOREVER be in debt. You need to CANCEL RENT.”
The mayor has not called for that and has advised against a rent strike, saying it would hurt small landlords. The mayor is one himself; he rents out his two Brooklyn properties and has continued to collect full rent from his tenants, who are employed. But his tweets Thursday appear to have wiped out any goodwill previously engendered from property owners.
“When you have a government taxpayer-funded mansion to live in [it] makes it easier to say things,” observed @Rudraksha7. “Have you thought about the landlords who depend on rent as their only source of income?”
Many of the comments conveyed landlords’ argument that they need rent to pay their own bills: mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance and the like.
“I guess landlords have a money tree in their backyard?” huffed @TheActor_movie. “UNCONSCIONABLE!”
“I’m a small landlord that goes paycheck to paycheck, and I cut $500 off [the rent] and my tenant still owes me $200,” lamented @mkz168. “But my bill is still there, my mortgage payment is still there. I lost my job [the] same as my tenant, and the UI [unemployment insurance] is broken for both of us. So we’re both screwed.”
One small landlord, @blueandgreennyc, asked, “Who’s going to bail homeowners out?” He said he’s counting on his two apartments to pay for his children’s education but his tenants “quote the mayor and governor and smirk at me. They are getting unemployment and a stimulus.”
Others were less subtle in their opinions of de Blasio and Cuomo.
“Let’s just all agree that they are the worst,” wrote @jjbigs28. “This is not a solution to the problem at all. RESIGN RESIGN RESIGN!”
A number of commenters were especially upset that de Blasio began his tweet with such glee.
“This actually makes me sick,” wrote @veryQueeny. “Where’s the YES! YES! YES! FOR LANDLORDS????? Do we not exist?”