What to Know
- There is a piece of proposed legislation in the New York Senate that aims to cancel rent for residents and businesses hurt by the COVID-19 crisis
- The proposal has gained the support of several New York City officials
- The bill has gained the support of Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Comptroller Scott Stringer, as well as 22 Democratic state senators
A piece of proposed legislation in the New York Senate that aims to cancel rent for residents and businesses hurt by the COVID-19 crisis has received the vocal support of New York City officials.
Senate Bill S8125A, authored by Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Queens), stipulates that “any residential tenant or small business commercial tenant in the state that has lost income or has been forced to close their place of business as a result of government ordered restrictions in response to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), shall have all rent payments suspended for 90 days following the effective date of this act.”
The bill has gained the support of Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Comptroller Scott Stringer, as well as 22 Democratic state senators.
The bill is different than other recent measures that have been introduced that suspend rent or mortgages, because in actuality this piece of legislation is a complete cancellation of the rent. In other words, the tenant will not be required to pay the rent of those 90 days at a later time.
“Such residential tenant or small business commercial tenant shall not and shall never be required to pay any rent waived during such time period,” the bill reads.
Additionally, under the proposed law, there would not be any late fees and leases that lapse during the 90 days would automatically renew at the current rent rate.
The bill also mandates forgiveness of mortgage payments by landlords who face “financial hardship” as a result of the rent cancellations.
“Mortgagors experiencing financial hardships because of the virus should also receive relief. All New Yorkers are sacrificing as a result of this crisis and government must do what it can to help. It would be harmful to our entire society to expect tenants without income to continue to take on financial liabilities,” the bill says.
Gianaris’ proposal goes beyond the eviction moratorium imposed by executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo’s eviction moratorium prohibits evictions for non-payment of rent over the next three months. However, the unpaid rent would be due at the end of that period.
Johnson spoke in support of rent relief.
"We need rent relief for those impacted by this crisis. I support State Sen. Michael Gianaris’ efforts to suspend rent for those who lost income because of the epidemic," he said in a statement Tuesday, in anticipation of the first day of the month, which is when rent is due for numerous people. "In addition, I am interested in helping lower income tenants adversely affected by coronavirus who were already struggling even before this crisis. Rent payments due to coronavirus/COVID-19 hardship must be reduced – or in some cases cancelled – now. We must also ensure that those tenants aren’t hit with exorbitant back rents they won’t be able to afford after this crisis is over."
Johnson's statement goes on to say: "New York City was in a housing emergency even before this epidemic. We cannot let New Yorkers come out of this crisis on the brink of homelessness. The eviction moratorium needs to stay in place during the crisis and for a reasonable recovery period afterward."
Meanwhile, Stringer also posted a tweet with the hashtag #CancelRent.