New York business owners behind on rent were at risk of eviction beginning on September 21st. They received a short reprieve as Governor Cuomo has extended the commercial eviction moratorium until October 20th for tenants that haven’t paid their rent. The governor once again extended the deadline through the rest of 2020. The moratorium is now in place until January 1st, 2021.
Tenants given an eviction order pre-pandemic are at risk to be forced out first, according to guidance issued by Caroline Tang-Alejandro, Director of the Bureau of City Marshals. Further, tenants are trying to understand conflicting moratorium deadlines.
Sadly, a new restaurant industry survey offers a grim view of just how precarious the situation is for most restaurants and bars in NYC. Almost 90 percent were unable to pay full rent in August, with 34 percent of them unable to pay any rent at all. Those grim numbers are an increase from three months prior and include outdoor dining.
Certainly, the moratorium is better than evictions for businesses unable to pay their full rent due to the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. In reality, though, this is akin to treating a gunshot wound with a band-aid. What small businesses truly need is rent relief. Some are able to negotiate with their landlords but landlord-tenant relations are usually difficult in good times. Now, those relationships are becoming more difficult. Landlords have bills that they need to pay too. Mortgages, property taxes, utilities, and insurance all need to be paid. The tenant is worried about being evicted and the landlord is worried about being foreclosed. Many were able to use federal aid programs such as PPP or EIDL to keep the lights on but those programs have long since expired and a new round of federal stimulus seems unlikely. The State and City finances are a mess so their ability to provide more aid or relief is minimal.
Making matters worse is the uncertainty that the next few years will bring. We do not know yet when offices will return to full occupancy or when tourists will arrive again. Not to mention, the exodus of people leaving the state has been an issue for the last decade has been supercharged by the pandemic.