Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed seven pieces of legislation providing relief for tenants, commercial establishments, and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new laws support struggling small businesses by imposing limits on third-party food delivery services, extending the suspension of sidewalk cafe fee collection, and protecting commercial tenants from harassment and personal liability. Together, the bills offer sweeping protections for New Yorkers in a time of unprecedented financial insecurity.
“New Yorkers have been fighting every day to flatten the curve and get through this pandemic together. Now, it’s time for us to give back to them,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I’m proud to sign this package of bills into law to offer protections for our small businesses, restaurants, and tenants to ensure that our City can come back stronger.”
This package includes:
Intro. 1898-A prohibits third-party food delivery services from charging restaurants a fee for telephone orders that do not result in an actual sale. The bill imposes penalties of up to $500 per violation, and the City can bring litigation seeking these penalties as well as restitution of illegally charged fees. The bill will take effect June 2, 2020, lasting until 90 days after the end of a declared emergency.
Intro. 1908-B caps the fees that third-party food delivery services can charge restaurants for the duration of a declared emergency and for 90 days thereafter. Third-party food delivery services will be prohibited from charging restaurants a fee greater than 15% per order for delivery and 5% per order for any other charge. Currently, third-party food delivery services sometimes charge up to 30% of the total order. Violators are subject to civil penalties of up to $1,000 per restaurant per day. The bill will take effect on June 2, 2020.
Intro. 1916-A suspends collection of indoor sidewalk cafe fees from restaurants from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021, and for outdoor sidewalk cafes through the duration of the emergency. Through Executive Order, the City already stopped collecting these fees for the duration of the emergency; this bill extends the suspension for indoor cafes until the end of February 2021.
Intro. 1914-A designates threatening a commercial tenant based on its status as a COVID-19 impacted business a form of harassment, effective immediately. This includes businesses that were subject to capacity restrictions, were forced to close, or business owners who contracted the virus.
Intro. 1932-A protects commercial tenants' personal assets by temporarily prohibiting the enforcement of personal liability provisions in commercial leases or rental agreements involving COVID-19 impacted tenants. Threatening to or attempting to enforce such a provision will be considered a form of harassment, effective immediately.
Intro. 1936-A expands the definition of tenant harassment to protect tenants from threats based on status as an essential employee or being impacted by COVID-19.
Intro. 1940-A codifies the Mayor's EO 107, which suspends renewal requirements for licenses and permits from City agencies during the duration of the emergency and extends such suspension for an extra 45 days. This will provide both City agencies and applicants enough time to complete and process renewals after the end of the emergency and when businesses come back online again. This bill takes effect immediately and will require the City to post a list of licenses not covered under the EO.
“New York's small businesses have been devastated by this pandemic. On top of closed businesses, they faced high fees, harassment from landlords and even the possibility of losing their homes. I'm proud of our Council for taking action quickly to protect them and thank the mayor for signing these bills that will allow our small business community to breathe a little easier. We will keep working to help our small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“Small businesses in communities of color have disproportionately been impacted by COVID-19 and are among those struggling the most to survive,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor of Strategic Policies Initiatives and Co-Chair of the Racial Inclusion and Equity Task Force. “The bills signed today will give small business owners in our hardest-hit communities the support they need to get through this pandemic, and help ensure a fair and equitable recovery in New York City.”
"Small businesses are the backbone of New York City's economy and our communities," said Gregg Bishop, Senior Advisor for Small Business COVID-19 Recovery. "This package of bills will ensure that small businesses in all five boroughs are central to our recovery. We will continue to hear the concerns of our small business community, and do everything possible to ensure they come back even stronger."
“In fighting this pandemic, the City must continue to offer solutions for communities against the growing set of new challenges brought by the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Louise Carroll, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “The health, safety and security of residents are indispensable priorities and we must do all we can to protect tenants from harassment. I applaud the Mayor and our partners in the City Council for providing the leadership we need during this challenging time.”
“Now is the time to support our small businesses by providing much needed relief, removing burdensome fees and protecting business owners from harassment,” said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. "We will continue to provide our small businesses with necessary support as we chart our path toward recovery and growth.”
“Our city’s restaurants are struggling during these challenging times,” said Lorelei Salas, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. “We are proud to provide some relief so they can operate their open-air cafes without the usual fees and to protect them from high fees as they continue to deliver food to us.”
“Today, New York City takes a monumental step towards protecting small businesses struggling to survive in a global crisis. This package of third-party food delivery reforms will give locally-owned restaurants a fighting chance to stay open and pay their employees.” said Council Member Mark Gjonaj, Chair of NYC Council Small Business Committee.