Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign the higly anticipated legislation tomorrow
Mayor Bill de Blasio will finally sign legislation that will offer protection against the harassment of commercial tenants, reports DNAinfo. The bill, which is expected to be signed tomorrow, will offer some solace to small businesses, giving them rights in the commercial leasing renewal process and a minimum 10-year lease with renewal rights. This will help prevent small businesses from being forced out due to excessive rent hikes and various forms of harassment. The legislation also incorporates the option for an arbiter when the landlord and business can’t come to terms on renewal agreements. The bill has been delayed since 2014.
"It’s the first time any real meaningful reforms and protections have been created to protect small businesses who don’t own their property," says Lena Afridi, a policy coordinator from city advocate group the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. "It’s the first time tenants, who’ve experienced harassment, will be allowed to litigate against their landlords" Afridi added. Each month, hundreds of businesses shutter as a result of sneaky tactics used by landlords.
The bill also gives small business owners who feel they’ve fallen victim to harassment the ability to seek attorney fees, damages amounting to one month’s rent or $1,000 (whichever is greater), and even recover possession of property.
While the new bill is definitely a step forward, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development believes that the legislation still needs more power behind it. They would like to see the government enforce anti-harassment measures as well as aid offered for small businesses who need legal assistance when going up against their landlords. Additionally, the bill only applies to tenants with leases, making it unfruitful to many immigrant-owned businesses that don’t have a lease.