“I want to see action taken now and I’ve asked the governor to do this by executive order since we’re not in session at this point,” Queens’ Michael Gianaris, the deputy leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, told the WBAI Max & Murphy Show. I am confident we’ll get somewhere on it. We just need to figure out exactly where we land.”
Gianaris’s bill stipulates that “any residential tenant or small business commercial tenant in the state that has lost income or has been forced to close their place of business as a result of government ordered restrictions in response to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), shall have all rent payments suspended for 90 days following the effective date of this act.”
Under the law, the waived rent would never be charged, nor would any late fees. Leases that lapse during the 90 days would automatically renew. The law would also mandate forgiveness of mortgage payments by landlords who face “financial hardship” as a result of the rent cancellation.
According to Gianaris’s office, support for the bill is overwhelming: Comments on the bill via the State Senate website were so voluminous, he says, they nearly crashed the server (although not all of the remarks supported the bill). National figures like Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden have followed local leaders like Comptroller Scott Stringer and Council Speaker Corey Johnson in backing the measure.