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Constantinides Backs State Legislation Calling for the Cancellation of Rent for Struggling Tenants

Jackson Heights, Queens (wiki)

April 22, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Council Member Costa Constantinides is backing state legislation that would cancel the rent for tenants who are unable to meet their monthly obligation as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Constantinides introduced a resolution in the city council Wednesday seeking the support of his colleagues to put pressure on Albany to pass such legislation. The city council has no authority to cancel rent payments, with the power in the hands of state legislators.

However, the passage of a council resolution– although not legally binding– sends a strong message to Albany lawmakers.

Constantinides said he introduced the resolution since people should not have to worry about how they will pay for rent during the pandemic.

“This should be the last of anyone’s concerns as they try to stay safe, care for their families, and access healthy food,” Constantinides said Wednesday.

Constantinides and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents the 10th Council District, introduced the resolution in support of a bill that is currently going before the state senate and assembly. The bill has been introduced in the state Senate by Mike Gianaris and by Yuh-Line Niouin in the Assembly.

The bill calls for the 90-day suspension of residential rental payments for tenants who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 government shutdown. The bill also applies to small business commercial tenants that have been forced to close their place of business due to the government shutdown.

Landlords who face financial hardship as a result of missed rent payments will receive forgiveness on mortgage payments for 90 days, according to the legislation.

Gianaris welcomed the resolution and said that it has been clear for weeks that rents cannot be paid with money that doesn’t exist. He said that either lawmakers legislate for rent cancellation or people will end up not paying rent anyway due to a lack of income.

Many New Yorkers are struggling to pay rent since so many are out of a job due to the shutdown.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the Department of Labor has paid insurance benefits to 1.1 million New Yorkers but the payments have still left residents without enough money to cover rent.

Nearly one-quarter of Americans were unable to pay their April housing bill, according to a study released by the real estate firm Apartment List on April 8.

Canceling rent payments and suspending mortgage payments during the pandemic is now supported by a majority of voters nationwide, according a recent poll of 1,086 likely voters released by Data for Progress and conducted by The Justice Collaborative.

The poll showed that 55 percent of likely voters said they would be in favor of such a proposal while 33 percent are opposed to it, according to the poll released on April 17.

Constantinides’ resolution was referred to the Council Committee on Housing and Buildings.

Survey by Data for Progress and The Justice Collaborative

email the author: [email protected]

38 Comments

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J

Mortgage payments is not enough. You’re talking about suspending all income for these small business landlords, you have to also suspend property taxes and utilities. Which they never talk about because property taxes accounts for 50% of the city’s revenue. What about homeowners that are furloughed and struggling… they don’t count and still have to pay property taxes?

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Cg

Landlords-it is also worth noting that if you create a hostile relationship with your tenants Now the repercussions could hurt you far worse in the end as Tenants may jist stop paying entirely knowing full well that it will be many months before you can even start an eviction process (which takes time in itself) and that given the circumstances the courts will be liberal
And sympathetic to the out of work tenants as a result of a worldwide catastrophe-granting them lengthy periods to cure and/or to ultimately vacate. So use your heads and show some concern for the human beings that have their home on your property. If your relationship has been strictly business up until now, now it is personal. Deeply personal -and you had best be a decent human being. What if it were you and your family that were the tenants….”There but for the grace of God go I” ….

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Cg

I see a lot of belly aching landlords posting here… we know you have your own worries and many of you have been quite comfortable living off the toil of others Who dont have down payments and /or who cant afford over a million dollars for houses you bought 10-40 yrs ago for next to nothing in todays money…bottom line is we dont have the money. You cant pay what you are not making. We are facing a economic crisis the kind that you parents or grandparents went through during the Depression era. Would you prefer your tenants were jumping from their windows, or stealing to pay you…. what if we were being bombed or gassed by aggressors in a wartime scenario… would you be worrying about your tenants paying your bills or would you be worried about not getting shot or blown up….?!?!!. No one is happy about this and no one asked for it. People are doing what they can now to live, to feed their children. Should i not be feeding my children so you can pay your water bill…??? Would YOU not feed your children??? Apply for governmental relief the same as the rest of is, apply to your lenders for forbearances, do what you can on your end and trust that we are doing what we can as well. But no one is going to let their families go hungry in favor of paying bills right now… we are ALL going through this and we all
Have to bear the weight, the consequences, and appeal for help -forgiveness etc for a circumstance beyond our control. I dont know anyone who has yet to see a dollar from unemployment come in yet. We are all living on vapors. Stop thinking about jist your own self interests and realize that you tenants are to some degree your responsibility and normally you are living off of them. It might be time that you have to give back a little and show some compassion. Your tenants are human beings. Many of whom are suffering losses of life on top of everything else during this time.

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anonymous

Even in China there are no politicians calling for cancelling rent during Covid19. That is why voters should not blindly vote for politicians just because they are the same race or ethnicity as you. You can potentially put idiots into office who will hurt your wallet in the long run.

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Cg

CHINA???? China is a totalitarian communistic society… people are provided for to whatever extent by the sustem, and if they aren’t their government could give a damn about their welfare or life…. how can you compare China to the united states is such a way. Your talking about a government that crushes protest and uprising with brute force and imprisonment. For all you know they are taking every man woman and child diagnosed with Covid and throwing them in a pit. Everyone seems to forget that the Chinese are brutal communists that have nothing in common with is whatsoever.

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anonymous

ok CG, you sound ignorant and uneducated. China is communist? Have you ever been to China? China is the world’s 2nd largest economy with active stock markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong, chinese companies are traded on NY stock exchange and Nasdaq, chinese companies like Lenovo bought IBM, some of the biggest Hollywood movies nowadays such as Once Upon A Time In Hollywood are produced and financed by chinese companies, most of the products you use daily are made in china, thousands of Americans live and work in China, shall I continue? My point is here you are spewing ignorant comments about China being communist and yet you demand communist things like free rent?? What an oxymoron. If you support capitalism, which is what this great country of ours is founded on, then you should be ashamed of yourself demanding free rent, because that is a communist ideology!!

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anonymous1

CG, I think you are referring to North Korea with your totalitarian communist comment, not China. You sound more commie than the typical chinese by demanding FREE rent! Banning private property ownership is a central COMMUNIST idea!

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Jon

We can not just cancel rent or mortgages for that matter.
“We” can provide rental assistance.

In reality no one is getting evicted anytime soon during the eviction moratorium. Even if that was lifted there aren’t many tenants able to sign new leases and the courts and police would probably move slowly.

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George

That’s great but how are landlords supposed to pay for everything else that is required to run a building? If nobody pays any rent then not paying taxes and water/sewer is not enough. You must also cut out the heating bills, electric bills, property insurance, property maintenance, cut all the essential workers, supers, porters, property managers. At that point you will need to bail out the owners. If you 100% waive the rents then you must 100% waive all the costs of running a building or give the landlords loans to be able to continue to function.

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A Voice

Agree with everything you said but not loans for Landlords, for it’s easy top say when things get back to normal and regular rents are coming in again, you hav e to wait to see what the rental market will be. If there is a drastic drop in the avg market rent, like say from $2000 mth pre lockdown to 1000 to 1500 mth after. All the expenses that were postponed will come back at where they are now, PLUS the payback of that loan will add to that. So increased operating cost and much reduced rents in the new market could still leave many smaller landlords underwater permanently.

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A Voice

How will it be determined that a tenant is LEGITIMATELY unable to pay rent? I currently have a tenant who started to play games with the rent since before Dec,’19. Their income is 175K per year! They have done damage in the apartment , as well as currently having get togethers late night with other people not residing here, breaking the social distancing rules. I am waiting for the eviction moratorium to be lifted to start the eviction. And there’s talk of extending that. My Atty has been retained and waiting. These people are the type to game the system and there’s no recourse for me as a small one building landlord who is not greedy and is fair with everyone. The other couple of tenants I have are sweethearts and I know would say the same of me. If they had a problem I’d certainly try to work with them. The only conceivable way this could work is to have the City do a thorough check on a tenants claim that they can’t afford rent including savings account balances. When I check for any programs for senior homeowners (reduced taxes etc) I cannot qualify because I have a small retirement account, which is for RETIREMENT! And I want to stress SMALL. The passing of this legislation without the passing of relief legislation for landlord’s will open the door to all kinds of non -valid non payment. No tenant will pay rent even if they can because who doesn’t want something for free? Also this cancelling or delay in mortgage payments is a joke. I just last week paid off the one year left i had on my mortgage by taking a loan on a credit card for 5 years. This still leaves me with a monthly payment but less than paying it in a years time. Taxes Ins and utilities are the most concern now. If anything they should make a stipulation that this legislation applies only to 6 family + buildings and that only if the landlord owns more than one building. Though even that would choke too many landlords who do the right thing by their tenants.

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Anonymous

What about City property Taxes?? Water and sewer bill?? My property tax was due April 1st and sure as hell it needed to be paid…why didn’t the mayor or governor step in and give me a 90 day extension?

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Concerned Citizen

Shocker, another inept politician trying to buy votes. Why don’t these so called “concerned” politicians all give up 20% of their salaries for the year and save NYC some money.
Most of the small landlords that would be affected by this legislation, worked 2 or 3 jobs to be able to buy their home and pay it off, so that they could guarantee a small income to pay for their expenses and support themselves.
These are the same politicians who had no foresight to allow Amazon in our neighborhood and killed thousands of jobs. Let’s remember that and vote them out next time they come up for re-election.

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Harry Bingham IV

90% of the landlords I know in Queens have voted for and continue to vote for Democrats. If someone is enough of an imbecile to acquire rental property and then continue to help empower Democrats, they deserve everything they get. Don’t hold your breath for the electorate here to “vote them out.” I have been living here for 50 years and I can assure you it won’t happen.

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David

Harry- You obviously don’t know what it’s like to live in a Republican controlled state and see policies that disproportionately favor landlords. I’ve lived in Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee and now live and own rental property in Sunnyside and Woodside and can say with complete confidence you don’t know what you’re talking about. Do we really need a mass eviction crisis like the ones during the Great Depression ? Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat its failures.

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Everything you said is completely false

Yes surely the global property management companies voted for Bernie.

Trump lovers are ACTUALLY gullible enough to believe this. To be fair you have one or two anecdotes; who knows?!

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Isaac Chiang

If the rent is forgiven, are the owners going to be supplemented by the state or city ? Can you be forgiven of property taxes ? This is communism.

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Trump redistributed taxpayer money to give everyone free money

That upsets you too right? This is communism. I mean, if you were THAT big of a hypocrite your words would mean nothing…

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Smith

It is unconstitutional. This is a repeat of Gianaris’ poorly written (and not researched) article. They cannot deny landlords of their rent. It breaks the Takings Clause. They would have to make landlords whole, aka, pay them/us.

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mps/your neighbor

City funding is made up of @ 30 percent property taxes.
The domino effect will be interesting to watch. No rent, no money to pay property taxes, no city funding. Postpone rent do not cancel it. These politicians are a joke.

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James

Do not postpone anything. Plenty of people ARE still working. You can’t give people an out on their responsibilities. If people are genuinely having an issue making ends meet, then they need to work that out with the owners/management. The politicians can’t just deny us rent. It is still a violation of the Constitution, no matter how many times they try to put it in print.

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Landlord

If you have “some” money at least pay some of the rent(and work something out for future payments) to help pay building expenses. Do the right thing

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Cg

You shouldn’t have to choose between paying rent and feeding your children … no one should have to do that.

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Dave

The bottom line is that we either end the shut down and take the risk of covid-19 infections increasing or we accept that people are going to have to make that choice. You can’t have it both ways. There is truly no free lunch in life.

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gag

Landlords are parasites. Unnecessary middlemen.

If anyone loses money during this pandemic it should be them and not working class people.

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Dave

How are we parasites? Explain how a landlord is a middle man? A landlord has housing and a rented needs housing. The middleman is the broker because he brings the two parties together. You think Landlords are all rich? A few are but many, like me are also just working class people trying to make a better life for ourselves by providing housing to others. I have 5 apartments and make about $1,000 profit each month if that.

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gag

Private landlords serve no purpose except to steal wealth from working families. They offer no benefit that couldn’t also be offered by a CO-OP.

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Richard Khuzami

We at the Old Astoria Neighborhood Assn. (OANA) are in favor of a rent deferral, not holiday, unless landlords (Especially small landlords) get a government backed guarantee of a modification of their mortgage so they are not faced with a balloon payment at the end of 90 days. Also, the same modification must apply to taxes, insurance and utilities. (These are often higher than the mortgage). However, since giving any kind of breaks to landlords is often politically difficult, another option is rent vouchers to tenants who cannot pay. In a nutshell, this tenant holiday cannot be financed on the back of landlords.The obligation should be shared by all through the government.

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Lazaro C.

I am in the same boat. No
Mortgage but I support my
Family with rental income. What happens then? Who will pay my
Bills ?

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