New York Daily News

Manhattan beep’s office should aid tenants on rent – Hoylman

- BY SHANT SHAHRIGIAN

The Manhattan borough president’s office would help tenants and landlords hash out deals on back rent once the eviction moratorium is over, under a new proposal from state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan).

He’d organize renters who live in buildings run by the same owner so they can bargain together. The federal ban on kicking out renters expires at the end of June. The state moratorium is set to end May 1.

“I’ve always been cognizant that this thing isn’t going to last forever,” said Hoylman, who authored the Tenant Safe Harbor Act initiating the state eviction moratorium. and is seeking the Manhattan borough presidency. “I see a nightmare scenario where money judgments are levied against tenants” once it expires.

Rent arrears have piled up during the pandemic, according to a recent study of below-market-rate units by NYU’s Furman Center. Households that entered 2020 with back rent saw an average 43% increase in the rent they owed by the end of the year. More households fell behind on rent for the first time, too.

Once the bills come due, there’s strength in solidarity, Hoylman argued.

“Tenants could share informatio­n across different landlords,” he told the Daily News on Monday. “That’s the real benefit of collective action.”

Hoylman said landlords would benefit, too, since his proposed “Manhattan Tenant Union” would provide an avenue outside lengthy litigation to reach deals.

The president’s office would set up a hotline to take calls from tenants, help put them in touch with one another and provide mediators for talks with landlords.

Hoylman said the effort would complement a de Blasio program offering free legal help to tenants.

“I can’t think of a more important issue than protecting people’s housing during the pandemic and the months afterward,” Hoylman said.

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