Three Proposals Circulating for Tenant COVID-19 Relief

Elected local officials and community housing advocates are applying pressure and calling for actions to address COVID-19’s economic fallout for tenants for New York City. Here are three such proposals:

Ninety-day rent forgiveness. On March 23, State Senator Michael Gianaris introduced a bill that would forgive rent for residential and commercial tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for 90 days. The bill proposes to suspend rent payments and certain mortgage payments for 90 days for residential and/or commercial tenants who have lost income and/or have been forced to close their place of business as a result of government-ordered restrictions in response to the outbreak of coronavirus disease. Additionally, the bill would allow for every residential or small business commercial tenant whose lease expires to have their leases automatically renewed at the existing rent rate. For owners, Gianaris’s bill proposes to forgive mortgage payments for those owners that face financial hardship from the loss of rent payments for commercial or residential property.

Use of security deposit for rent. On March 24, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Councilmembers Robert Cornegy and Keith Powers proposed what they called a Renter’s Choice policy, which would allow owners to tap into their security deposits to help tenants meet next month’s rent.

Rent and mortgage moratorium. Housing Justice for All, a statewide coalition, has called on the city and state to develop a $10 billion relief package that includes a moratorium on rent, mortgage, and utility payments. Additionally, the housing advocacy coalition wants the rehousing of every homeless individual using emergency rent assistance and in vacant homes.