UPDATED, Sept. 23, 2020, 4:01 p.m.: The City Council on Wednesday extended a measure that protects restaurants and retailers who violate their leases.
The Council voted in favor of a bill that prohibits the enforcement of personal liability provisions in commercial leases or rental agreements in cases where a default occurred between March 7, 2020 and March 31, 2021. The initial measure, which was sponsored by Manhattan Democrat Carlina Rivera and approved in May, only applied to defaults that happen through Sept. 30, 2020.
Such liability provisions allow landlords to go after tenants’ personal assets in the event of a lease default. Real estate groups and some elected officials have criticized the bill for interfering in private contracts between landlords and tenants.
The City Council has passed other legislation aimed at helping restaurants struggling during the pandemic. Last week, it approved a measure that would temporarily allow restaurants to increase individual customer’s bills by up to 10 percent. The bill lets establishments apply the “Covid-19 recovery charge” for 90 days after indoor dining resumes on Sept. 30.
On Wednesday, the City Council also approved a bill that requires the Department of Finance to solicit the name, telephone number and email address of every property owner in the city and create a database with that contact information. Another approved measure mandates that when a hotel changes hands, either through sale or bankruptcy, the owner is required to provide employment to the existing hotel workers for at least 90 days. After that period, the employer must conduct an evaluation of the employees and offer continued employment to anyone whose performance is deemed satisfactory.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect the results of Wednesday’s City Council vote.