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Gothamist: In Pandemic’s Aftermath, Calls Grow For NYC To Regulate Commercial Rents

A bodega is closed, and there's a "for rent" sign on its gate

The City Council’s small business committee is considering a controversial proposal to limit how much landlords can raise rents on commercial tenants. The measure, first introduced by City Councilman Stephen Levin almost two years ago, would apply to storefronts and offices up to 10,000 square feet, which could also include some supermarkets.

Levin, who sits on the committee, said rising rents have forced small businesses throughout the city to shut down, and that the pandemic has exacerbated the problem, creating a proliferation of vacant storefronts.

“We want to be able to have a just recovery,” said the Brooklyn council member. “Not just to the property owners, but also to the small businesses.”

Proponents of the legislation, from the coalition United for Small Business NYC, dispute claims that rents are falling everywhere. Paula Segal, an attorney at coalition member Take Root Justice, a legal services organization, said she represents many immigrant-run bodegas, jewelry shops, and other businesses. She said they’re often given cheaper rents for the first year of a lease as an incentive, but then “it doubles in year two because the landlord is trying to make up what they lost during Covid.”

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