The Council will also vote to protect residential tenants against COVID-19 related harassment
City Hall – The New York City Council on Wednesday will vote on legislation to protect small businesses impacted by the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. This package of five bills is designed to help small businesses survive the fiscal impacts of the loss of business and limited food service due to efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
“Small businesses and restaurants are the heart and soul of New York City and right now, they are hurting. They are paying high fees, getting harassed and are worried about losing their homes. They need help and this small business package is designed to protect them during this pandemic,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Restaurants have seen a decline in patronage and have been forced to alter operations and stop dine-in orders, which poses additional costs. Today, the Council is voting on legislation that will lessen this burden for them during the pandemic.
The first bill would cap the amount of commission a third-party delivery service is allowed to charge at 15% per order for delivery and 5% per order for all other types of charges. The second bill would prevent third-party delivery platforms from charging restaurants for telephone orders that did not result in a transaction. Members will also vote on a bill to suspend sidewalk cafe fees throughout New York City during the pandemic.
The Council will also vote to protect commercial tenants against harassment as a result of being a COVID-19 impacted business. This legislation will make this harassment punishable by a civil penalty of $10,000 to $50,000. Another bill will temporarily suspend personal liability provisions in leases of COVID-19 impacted businesses. This will prevent commercial landlords from going after business owners’ homes.
The Council will also vote on legislation to protect residential tenants from harassment as a result of being impacted by COVID-19.
Finally, the Council will vote on legislation to require the City to publish a list of licenses, permits, consents or registrations not covered by the renewal extension in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Executive Order no. 107.
COVID RELIEF PACKAGE FOR RESTAURANTS AND SMALL BUSINESSES
Caps fees that third-party food delivery platforms may charge
Proposed Introduction No. 1908-B, sponsored by Council Member Francisco P. Moya, would restrict the fees that third-party food delivery services may charge restaurants during states of emergency when restaurants are prohibited from offering food for consumption on-premises. These third-party delivery services would be prohibited from charging more than a 15% fee per order for providing delivery services to a restaurant, and more than a 5% fee per order for all other types of charges. (Voted out of Small Business Committee)
Violations of the prohibitions in this bill would be subject to civil penalties of up to $1,000 per restaurant per day. This bill would remain in effect for the duration of any state of emergency and an additional 90 days thereafter.
“Mom and pop restaurants across New York City are being bled dry by billion-dollar tech companies. Unfortunately, that relationship isn’t unique to the pandemic. Exorbitant fees from third-party food delivery services threatened restaurants before the COVID-19 outbreak but like so many other issues, this crisis has amplified and expanded that inequity to devastating effects. My bill will provide restaurants with desperately needed relief and prevent tech giants from profiting off of a global crisis. By capping the fees third-party food apps can charge restaurants during declared states of emergency, restaurants can continue providing essential services while not putting themselves out of business in the process. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson for his leadership and support on leveling the playing field between locally-owned restaurants and third-party food delivery services,” said Council Member Francisco P. Moya.
Prevents third-party delivery platforms from charging restaurants for telephone orders that did not result in a transaction
Proposed Introduction No. 1898-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Gjonaj, would prohibit third-party delivery platforms for charging for telephone orders in which a transaction did not take place. This bill would remain in effect for the duration of any state of emergency and an additional 90 days thereafter. (Voted out of Small Business Committee)
Violations of the prohibitions in this bill would be subject to civil penalties of up to $500 per day per restaurant unlawfully charged.
“Our city’s local restaurant sector cannot be allowed to go under. During this unprecedented public health crisis, many are struggling just to stay afloat. These bills will go a long way towards creating a fairer playing field that could mean the difference between remaining open or closing their doors and laying off their employees,” saidCouncil Member Mark Gjonaj, Chair of the Small Business Committee.
Suspends sidewalk cafe fees
Proposed Introduction No. 1916-A, sponsored by Council Member Andrew Cohen, would require the City of New York to waive and/or refund all revocable consent fees for unenclosed sidewalk cafes due between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021. Enclosed sidewalk café consent fees would be waived for the duration of the Mayor’s Emergency Executive Order No. 105 published on April 4, 2020. (Voted out of Consumer Affairs Committee)
“I am grateful to Speaker Johnson, my colleagues in City Council, and small business advocates for taking swift action on this legislation and commitment to supporting our businesses through this crisis and beyond. With so many restaurants, bars, and other establishments in the hospitality industry ordered to close, New York’s small businesses are in urgent need of the City’s help. These businesses have always been the lifeblood of our City and they will play a central role in the City’s recovery. This legislation is an important first step towards a safe reopening of NYC’s restaurants with sidewalk cafes prominently figuring into a recovery strategy to support socially distanced dining and expanded seating capacity. Eliminating burdensome sidewalk cafe fees will provide emergency relief to restaurants confronting huge revenue losses and unprecedented financial challenges so that they’ll have the opportunity to reopen and thrive in the future,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing Committee.
Provides additional protections against commercial tenant harassment
Proposed Introduction No. 1914-A, sponsored by Council Member Adrienne E. Adams and Speaker Corey Johnson, would make threatening a commercial tenant based on their status as a COVID-19 impacted business or person a form of harassment punishable by a civil penalty of $10,000 to $50,000. This bill would not impact a tenant’s obligation to pay rent or a landlord’s ability to enforce the terms of the lease, including lawful termination. (Voted out of Small Business Committee)
“COVID-19 exposed many weaknesses and inequities in our society and at this critical time the New York City Council must think about those on whom this pandemic will fall most heavily,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “Our small businesses, including those impacted by COVID-19, are the backbone of New York City’s economy and the embodiment of the American dream. These small businesses are struggling right now, and we must strengthen protections against commercial tenant harassment so that they will have the opportunity to thrive in the future. I applaud Speaker Johnson for his leadership on the COVID-19 relief package and look forward to its passage.”
Protects COVID-impacted businesses by suspending personal liability provisions in leases
Proposed Introduction No. 1932-A, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera and Speaker Corey Johnson, would suspend personal liability provisions for certain businesses. These provisions, which are common in small business leases, allow a landlord to hold a business owner personally liable if they are unable to pay rent. To avoid the seizure of an owner’s personal assets or property, they must turn in the keys to the property, effectively ending their lease.
The bill would suspend these provisions for businesses that were impacted by mandated closures or service limitations, including: (1) businesses that were required to stop serving food or beverages on-premises (restaurants and bars); (2) businesses that were required to cease operations altogether (gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters); (3) retail businesses that were required to close and/or subject to in-person restrictions; and (4) businesses that were required to close to the public (barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors and related personal care services). (Voted out of Small Business Committee)
“With the federal government continuing to stall further relief for small businesses, it’s imperative the City Council acts through all measures possible to assist the long-time businesses that are an important part of the fabric of our neighborhoods. I’m particularly proud the Council will be voting on my legislation today to prohibit the enforcement of personal liability provisions in commercial leases or rental agreements involving a COVID-19 impacted tenant,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “My bill will ensure that business owners, should they be forced to walk away or temporarily shutter their stores through no fault of their own, can do so without facing threats to their life savings and personal assets, ensuring that one day they may be able to return and relaunch or create new thriving businesses in our neighborhoods.”
HOUSING & BUILDINGS
Amends the definition of harassment to include threats based on a person having been impacted by COVID-19
Proposed Introduction No. 1936-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie J. Torres and Speaker Corey Johnson, would expand the definition of harassment to include threats against an individual based on their status as a COVID-19 impacted person, their status as an essential employee, or their receipt of a rental concession or forbearance. Violations of this legislation would be punishable by a civil penalty of $2,000 to $10,000.
“Harassment and retaliation against COVID-19 impacted tenants pose an urgent risk, and tenants must be protected against unscrupulous landlords during these extremely difficult and uncertain times. This bill will make harassing a tenant based on their status as a COVID-19 impacted person, illegal. We need strong tenant protections in place to ensure everyone who has a home is able to keep it,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.
Requires city agencies to publish a list of licenses, permits, consents or registrations not covered by the renewal extension in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Executive Order no. 107
Preconsidered Introduction No. ___, sponsored by Council Member Steven Matteo, would require city agencies to publish a list of any licenses, permits, consents or registrations that are not covered by the renewal extension provided for by the Mayor’s Emergency Executive Order Number 107 issued on April 14, 2020. Renewal deadlines would be required to be no earlier than 45 days after the lapsing of Executive Order Number 107. This bill would require city agencies to make this list publicly available on their websites within 14 days of the enactment of this bill.
“The COVID-19 epidemic has taken a devastating toll on our city’s businesses, and, sadly, too many of them will not open their doors again,” said Council Member Steven Matteo. “For those that will be able to re-open once they are allowed, the last thing they should have to worry about is filing paperwork or being fined by the city for an expired permit. The bill I authored would give our businesses some breathing room to renew permits as they try to get back on their feet and requires the Mayor’s Office to provide them with clear guidance on which permits have been extended and which have not during this period of emergency. I thank the Speaker and my colleagues for supporting this important measure.”