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So-called “Commercial Rent Control” bill getting lots of attention

First things first.

Proponents of a would-be law that would empower small business owners in New York City negotiating new lease terms with landlords object to the legislation being commonly tagged as the Commercial Rent Control bill.

That is an overly limiting and narrow depiction of what the measure is all about, they say. A recent article addressing the bill notes their preferred emphasis on what it entails. Advocates say it provides “a way to give small-business owners a fighting chance in a real estate climate in which landlords have vast power over their tenants.”

We commented on the City Council bill a few blog posts back, chronicling its major bullet points in our September 15 entry. Centrally, the legislation would give select tenants (those who have duly performed regarding their current leases) an automatic right to a 10-year renewal. That would be coupled with a bar against landlord retaliation and recourse to a binding rental amount determination reached through arbitration in the event of failed negotiations.

Those and related provisions have unsurprisingly spurred some lively give-and-take in the NYC business community. The bill was given an initial hearing before the council last week at New York City Hall, where both supporters and detractors weighed in with some impassioned views.

Those who favor the bill stress that its passage is badly needed to preserve the city’s dynamic business mixture and keep small businesses of all stripes from shuttering their doors. The demise of legions of valued city businesses would be almost certain without some protections, they say, owing to compelling market pressures that overtly favor huge business players.

Detractors dismiss that claim. Some of them also argue that the legislation could result in many city landlords declining in the future to negotiate with small business owners on initial leases at all. Their disinclination would owe to the future locked-in constraints regarding subsequent leases that are mandated by the bill.

We will keep readers timely apprised of any material developments that arise concerning the bill.

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