The new legislation suspends clauses that hold business owners personally liable when they are not able to pay rent.
Gianaris said that small businesses are the “backbone of our communities” and have suffered tremendously during the pandemic.
“We must do what we can to keep these neighborhood institutions alive while we fight for the federal and state relief these businesses deserve.” Gianaris said.
The bill was drafted after Gianaris worked with Kambri Crews, owner and operator of Q.E.D., a comedy club and cultural venue in Astoria.
Crews said that this protection will keep business owners invested in their communities, while relieving them of the worry of “personal financial devastation.”
“If personal liabilities aren't protected then many business owners, myself included, will have to close their doors to protect themselves and their families,” Crews said.
She said if the legislation is not signed into law, she will end up not only having to close Q.E.D., but could lose her home and personal savings in the process.
“If you still haven’t paid the landlord whole, he can come after you personally,” Crews said.
This is expanding on a bill protecting commercial tenants that was passed last year in the city by Councilman Carlina Rivera.
Rivera said that small business owners should not have to fear a “landlord going after their personal savings during this pandemic.”
“Small business owners put their heart and soul into their enterprises and our community depends on them,” she said.