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New Yorkers take unprecedented steps to combat the Coronavirus

These are unprecedented times.

In these difficult times, I am proud of the response to this crisis by leaders of our community. The health and well-being of our families, friends and fellow New Yorkers is paramount. Public health authorities tell us the best way to stay safe and healthy during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is to keep our distance from others, which is why New York City and State government have imposed significant restrictions on normal daily life. For the safety of our members, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) has followed suit, proactively canceling and postponing all in-person member events through end of March.

We are also connecting members within the brokerage community to share best practices to help agents to stay healthy and safe.

While essential services such as grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies will remain open, these changes will have a profound impact on families, workers, businesses and our economy.

Last week, leading REBNY members who collectively own and manage more than 155,000 rental units in the City committed to help tenants weather this crisis safely in their homes. In an open letter published in several newspapers, we voluntarily pledged not to execute any warrant of eviction for the next 90 days in response to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.

Subway platforms are empty as the city slowly shuts down. The usually bustling Time Square (pictured top) is also deserted.

As owners and brokers are in close contact with their tenants and clients to assess and discuss the impact of the current economic climate and how best to handle it, it is important that tenants are aware of a program created by the City of New York to provide no-interest loans to certain small businesses impacted by slowdowns relating to COVID-19.

In the meantime, REBNY is closely working with other organizations in New York City to push for a significant expansion of federal, state and local programs to support our economy and help restaurants, retailers and small businesses. Specifically, we believe the City and State should actively consider measures to:

  • Allow more small businesses to receive financial support and diversify programs to include cash grants, no-interest loans and low-interest loans to better respond to business interruptions  
  • Delay fines and other fees for small businesses facing losses as a result of decreased business 
  • Suspend the Commercial Rent Tax for ground-floor tenants 
  • Eliminate late payment penalties on property taxes  
  • Extend cure periods for various violations 
  • Support greater legal services for COVID-19 related matters
  • Help businesses conduct insurance reviews to determine whether expenses such as rent or lost revenue can be covered by their insurance carrier
  • Reduce sales taxes, defer sales tax payments and suspend late sales tax payment penalties

We welcome the industry’s input on these and other ideas that may be needed to help keep our economy moving forward as we keep our communities safe.

Thank you for all you are doing to help keep New York City safe and healthy. Please stay informed and stay safe.

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