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Do Small Biz Tenants Need More Protection From Landlords?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

Commercial tenants have it tough. Sometimes landlords have their own plans for the space where you make your living, disrupting your business and earnings. This is just one reason why New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law that shields mom-and-pop shops from landlord harassment.

Calling small businesses essential to the city, the New York mayor said the new law will protect these shops from harassment and penalize offending landlords. But for some business advocacy groups the law does not go far enough and they are pushing for additional protective measures on behalf of commercial tenants.

Protecting Small Biz

Small businesses can suffer crippling losses from landlord harassment, which includes turning off utilities, failing to make necessary repairs, or making unnecessary repairs in order to disrupt, as well as filing frivolous legal complaints. The new law aims to shield small shops struggling with a property owner, allowing them to recover legal fees and seek recourse for the harassment. Advocates say it will help small businesses stay in the city in the face of pressure from landlords.

"It's up to us to protect New Yorkers where they live and where they work," Mayor de Blasio said." Our small businesses are not only engines of our economy -- they are an essential part of our city's character....This bill is one more tool that will help us hold bad landlords accountable and keep our small businesses strong."

Too Soon to Celebrate

But some advocates feel the law was weak and that added measures are needed to support commercial tenants. They want to see updates to the commercial lease renewal process, giving businesses additional rights and a provision for third-party arbitration in negotiating fair lease renewal terms, as well as restrictions on landlords passing taxes on to tenants.

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