Rent relief a two-sided street


To the editor:

(re: “Eviction freeze is nice, but some want rent freeze, too,” May 28)

To the many families who have lost their jobs, and to the local store owners who are on the verge of bankruptcy, the rent relief policy is perfect. It helps families in their time of need during a worldwide crisis.

However, perhaps what many renters and politicians fail to realize is that this relief policy has a significant negative impact on a huge percentage of the New York City population.

In order to get money from the unemployment office today, one would need proof that they have lost their job due to COVID-19. So why not do the same for the rent relief policy? What if only those who could prove that they have had a financial loss due to COVID-19 be the ones who would be absolved from paying rent?

If we allow this, landlords can still receive a steady income from those who have not had a financial loss, and can still pay their rent.

I have been internally assessing the pros and cons of rent relief, and yet, I am getting bogged down on the same question: Is rent relief actually helping the tenants? Many might say, “Yes, tenants can stay in their homes without the stress of paying their rent.” But it isn’t that simple. In fact, I believe that rent relief can lead to a huge downside for renters that many have not considered.

Without receiving a steady rental income, landlords can’t afford to maintain the building or pay property taxes. Landlords are essentially the biggest taxpayers in New York City, and without the landlords’ contribution to the city’s tax coffers, the government will lose its primary source of funding for public schools, roadway repair, emergency services, etc.

Landlords also will no longer be able to pay their own employees, along with the various other companies whose entire business models are based solely off of landlord-funded contracts. These include contracts such as pest exterminators, building maintenance contractors, and building material supply vendors.

The closing of these businesses will have a devastating effect on the habitability of rental properties: Buildings’ vermin infestation left unchecked; deterioration of building envelopes’ waterproofing; failing and leaking roofs, masonry and windows; and an overall poorly maintained housing stock, thereby reducing the overall quality of life for the average New Yorker.

Beth Levin

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Beth Levin,