In April, several tenants and tenants' rights groups in NYC were considering a rent strike if they didn't get more help with their housing costs. That strike has moved forward, with thousands of NYC tenants refusing to pay their rent in May. This is the largest rent strike the city has seen in decades. Here's what tenants and landlords should know about this strike.
The Goal of the Strike
About 68% of households in New York City are renters, which is almost double the national figure of 36%. Add to this the fact that NYC has been the hardest hit in the US when it comes to coronavirus, and you can see why the idea of not paying rent is a big deal right now. That's why more than 57 apartment buildings and around 2,000 tenants in other buildings throughout the city are planning to take part in the strike. And while NYC seems to have the largest rent strike so far, other major cities are doing the same, with Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia being a few of them.
The point of the strike is to request more government support for people who can't afford to pay rent due to the coronavirus. Backers of the rent strike claim the current government proposals aren't enough. Right now, there's a suspension on evictions, so no one will become homeless if they don't pay their rent. But that ends June 20, and people are worried about what will happen then, since jobless people still won't be able to pay rent by that date.
So the goal of the strike is to convince the state government to cancel rent for four months or for the duration of the pandemic, whichever ends up being longer. Note that supporters of the proposal don't just want to suspend rent, but cancel it altogether. After all, simply suspending the rent would mean it's all still due at the end of the four-month period, and most people wouldn't be able to pay back four months' worth of rent at that point.
How the NYC Rent Strike Affects Landlords
Thousands of New Yorkers are participating in the rent strike this May. But what does that mean for landlords who might not be able to pay their mortgage as a result? Some housing groups are trying to push Gov. Cuomo to not only cancel rent, but also cancel mortgage payments for at least four months. Others are relying on the federal government to help, as they're hoping to see bills pass that provide mortgage relief for landlords, or at least relief funds for landlords to use.
But some are worried that canceling mortgage payments would have a negative effect on the city, as no mortgage payments would mean no property taxes, water payments, and other important costs. So there's no consensus so far on what kind of relief landlords should get if their tenants aren't paying rent.
For now, we'll have to wait and see what occurs as a result of the rent strike. In the meantime, if you have questions about your own rights as a landlord or tenant in NYC, contact a real estate attorney today for legal guidance.