The Council will also vote to enact protections for hotel workers
City Hall, NY – The New York City Council will vote on legislation extending protections for commercial tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19. Businesses throughout the City have been financially hurt by the pandemic, and it has forced closures or reductions in capacity. As a response to this, the Councilvoted in May 2020 to enact Local Law 55/Intro. 1932 which suspended personal liability provisions in leases of businesses that were required to close as part of the State’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. This meant commercial landlords who were not getting rent could not go after a tenant’s personal assets, including their homes.
Since the pandemic continues to devastate businesses, members will be voting to extend the timeframe for this legislation from September 30 to March 31, 2021. This bill would also require the City to conduct outreach to commercial tenants regarding the protections created in the bill.
The Council will also vote on legislation to expand protections for displaced hotel workers throughout the City in the event the ownership of hotel changes. The new owner of any existing hotel would be required to provide employment to existing hotel workers for at least 90 days at their current wage rate.
The bill would also require hotels to notify guests of service disruptions that would substantially affect their stay and prohibit them from charging a fee or penalty for cancellations made because of a service disruption.
The Council will also vote on legislation to align New York City’s paid sick law with the state’s law. The state legislature voted to amend the New York Labor Law and require many employers to provide paid sick leave. The Council’s legislation will go into effect on September 30, 2020, the same date that the state’s law does.
The Council will also vote on legislation to extend the deadline to apply for certain personal property tax exemptions and abatements, including the Senior Citizen Homeowner Exemption, the Disabled Homeowner Exemption, the veteran exemptions, and the School Tax Relief Program. The deadline was for March 16, 2020 but the bill will allow the city to accept exemptions and abatement applications received by July 15, 2020. The Department of Finance (DOF) will be authorized to approve thousands of exemption or abatement applications that were received during this time period that otherwise would have to be denied as untimely. This will allow thousands of homeowners to receive property tax benefits this year instead of having to wait until next year to qualify.
In addition, the Council will also vote on several pieces of legislation aimed at improving communication and outreach by the Finance Department to property owners. Today’s legislation would require the Finance Department to make efforts to collect telephone and email contact information for real property owners throughout the City in addition to the existing efforts to collect physical mailing addresses. The bill would also require improved notification on property tax bills about applicable tax rates and require that property taxpayers be provided with access to an electronic receipt for payments made and information on how each payment is applied to charges on the statement of account.
Extends temporary personal guaranty protection provisions for commercial tenants impacted by COVID-19
Int. No. 2083-A, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera and Council Speaker Johnson, would extend the timeframe during which Local Law 55/Int. 1932, which temporarily suspends personal liability provisions in the leases of certain COVID-impacted businesses, to March 7, 2020 – March 31, 2021
The Council voted in May 2020 to enact Local Law 55/Intro. 1932 which temporarily suspends personal liability provisions for the following business types that were impacted by the mandated closures and service limitations in the Governor’s executive orders: (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).
Personal liability provisions are provisions that hold a business owner personally liable in the event they are unable to pay rent are common in small businesses leases. In order to prevent the seizure of personal assets or property, an owner must turn in the keys to the property, effectively ending their lease.
In addition, the City would be required to conduct outreach to commercial tenants regarding the protections created in the bill.
“I’ve been kept up at night by the stories of the small business owners who have called my office, come to our hearings, and sent me messages on social media, all in the hopes that they will be able to preserve their stores, their dreams, and their chance to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to my legislation that we passed in May to suspend personal liability provisions in small business leases, we were able to ensure that business owners, should they be forced to walk away or temporarily shutter their stores through no fault of their own, could do so without facing threats to their life savings and personal assets.
“I want to thank Speaker Johnson for joining me in supporting my legislation to extend these protections until March 2021, and I look forward to voting on my extension bill, Intro 2083, later today,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated so many of our city’s small businesses. These businesses are the heart and soul of New York and they need our help right now. I am grateful for the leadership of Council Member Rivera on this issue and proud of the work that the Council has done to step up in this time of need and enact these critical protections during this pandemic,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
In relation to displaced hotel service workers and hotel service disruption notifications
Int. No. 2049-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine, would establish protections for displaced hotel service workers in the event of a change in control of a hotel, such as a sale or bankruptcy. Once new ownership commences, the owner would be required to provide employment to the existing hotel workers for at least 90 days. During this retention period, existing workers would be paid the same wage rate or higher. At the end of the 90-day period, the new employer would perform a written evaluation of the worker and, if the worker receives a satisfactory result, the new employer must offer them continued employment.
This legislation would require hotels to notify guests of service disruptions that would substantially affect their stay. A hotel would be prohibited from charging a fee or penalty for cancellations made because of a service disruption.
The displaced worker protections would take effect immediately. The provisions related to service disruptions would take effect in 120 days.
Requires city employers to provide earned safe and sick time to employees
Int. No. 2032-A, sponsored by Council Member Andrew Cohen (by request of the Mayor), would align New York City’s paid sick law with the recently enacted New York State law, including how time is accrued and which businesses are covered. Small businesses with four or fewer employees and an income less than $1 million must provide 40 hours of unpaid safe/sick leave. Small businesses with four or fewer employees and an income greater than $1 million must provide 40 hours of paid safe/sick leave. While most businesses with 99 or fewer employees must still provide 40 hours of paid safe/sick leave, large businesses of 100 or more employees must now provide up to 56 hours of paid safe/sick leave.
This bill would take effect on September 30, 2020.
“New York City has been a leader in the fight to advance progressive worker protection laws and raise workplace standards,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “The City’s various worker protection laws, including Paid Safe and Sick Leave, Fair Workweek and the Freelance Isn’t Free Act offer New York City workers some of the strongest protections available nationwide. I’m grateful to Mayor de Blasio, my colleagues at City Council, and DCWP for supporting this legislation to align the City’s law with new changes to paid sick and safe leave laws at the State level, expanding and strengthening worker protections and continuing the work that makes our City a national leader on this issue.”
Authorizes the extension of deadlines for the filing of applications and renewal applications for real property tax abatement and exemption programs
Int. 2039-A, sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm (by request of the Mayor), would extend the deadline to file an initial or a renewal application from March 16, 2020 to July 15, 2020 for various real property tax exemption/abatement programs that were due in calendar year 2020. According to the Department of Finance, approximately 2,650 eligible initial and renewal applications were received after the existing deadline, but prior to July 15, 2020. This legislation would permit the approval of these applications this year rather than requiring the homeowners to wait until next tax year to qualify for benefits.
“Intro 2039-A will help hundreds of New Yorkers keep their homes by retroactively extending important tax abatement and exemption deadlines,” saidNYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. “Amidst the fear and confusion of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many homeowners missed these program deadlines. This is an understandable oversight–but it is one that could have had dire consequences for the many working families who rely on these exemptions and abatements to keep afloat financially. This legislation will enable these property owners to receive their tax benefits now, instead of having to wait until next year to apply again. In effect, this effort will keep homeownership affordable for many people with lower incomes. I want to thank the administration, Speaker Johnson and my colleagues for prioritizing this effort that will prevent these homeowners from suffering undue hardship during already-difficult times.”
In relation to the collection and maintenance of contact information of real property owners
Int. 1225-A, sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm, would require DOF to make best efforts to collect the name, telephone number, and email address of every owner of real property in the city, or of an equivalent representative, and to maintain such information in a database used for purposes of administering property taxes. Currently, the Department does not have a systematic way of collecting and maintaining contact information other than a physical mailing address for property owners. However, email and telephone information are crucial for improved and more efficient outreach and communication and this legislation encourages DOF to ensure that emphasis is also placed on those alternative and often preferred means of contact.
“Intro 1225-A will help City officials conduct quick and efficient outreach to homeowners,” said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. “In many instances, we can save low income and middle-class homeowners from the terrible experience of having a lien placed on their property simply by notifying them in a timely manner. We are in the middle of a pandemic and housing insecurity is on the rise. As elected officials, we must do everything in our power to help homeowners during these extremely challenging times. This common-sense effort does just that. I thank Speaker Johnson and my colleagues for their dedication to homeowners across the city who stand to benefit from this legislation.”
In relation to a notice regarding property tax rates
Int. 1702-A, sponsored by Council Member Karen Koslowitz, would require DOF to include a notice on July 1 property tax bills that use a prior year’s tax rate to calculate the amount of tax owed that the taxes due are subject to adjustment upon the adoption of the tax rate for the new fiscal year. Tax rates for the new fiscal year are typically adopted after the preparation and mailing of the July 1 tax bills, and this notification is intended to clear up confusion about why taxpayers may see a midyear adjustment on a subsequent tax bill.
In relation to the department of finance providing a receipt of payment
Int. 1705-A, sponsored by Minority Leader Steven Matteo, would require the DOF to establish and maintain a system to contact property owners by e-mail and provide access electronically to a receipt for, and information on, each payment made for charges shown on their statement of account.
“In this digital age, where most people pay for things electronically – whether it’s utility bills, groceries, clothing, or monthly rent or lease payments – a receipt is still the absolute best way to ensure you have a fully detailed record about a financial transaction. And yet, the New York City Department of Finance inexplicably has never provided receipts to people who pay their property taxes online. This bill will remedy that problem by requiring the city to automatically generate an email with a receipt to property owners once they have paid their taxes online. It’s simple, it’s common sense and it’s long overdue,” said Minority Leader Steven Matteo.
Albany Crossing Apartments and Kingston Heights Apartments
The Council will vote to terminate an Article V property tax exemption that was previously granted in 2007 and consent to the voluntary dissolution of the Article V ownership structure. The development intends to reincorporate as a Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) and seek an as-of-right property tax exemption to facilitate the preservation of 224 units of rental housing. This project is located in Council Member Cornegy’s district.