paying commercial rent in NYC during coronavirus

A Letter From Vicus Founders on How to Navigate Paying Commercial Rent in NYC during Coronavirus (COVID-19): Your Rights & A Path Forward

Below please find a letter we sent to our commercial real estate customers and clients in the New York City area on our thoughts on what Coronavirus (COVID-19) means for NYC small business tenants and how to navigate paying commercial rent in NYC during Coronavirus.  If you have any questions (even if you’re not a client), please do not hesitate to contact any of our team.

 

Many of you have reached out to us to discuss your existing lease and what to do about rent payments during Coronavirus. As we head further into this uncharted territory of shutdowns, limited movement, and social distancing, please don’t hesitate to contact us; we—as a company and as humans going through the same fear and uncertainty–are here to help and create solutions for you.

To those we have not yet heard from, here are some of the most common questions we’ve received over the past few days, and our suggested solutions:

Do I Have Any Rights To Stop Paying Rent? The truth is, every lease is different. Your lease may have specific provisions for circumstantial deferred rent or rent abatement during times of material business interruption or revenue loss. Many companies have business interruption insurance for this reason, but to date this Coronavirus pandemic is not being covered as such by most insurance carriers. If you do have these provisions in your lease, we can help you speak to your landlord about exercising these rights. If you don’t, we are here to help you brainstorm and get creative. For example, asking your landlord for 3-6 months of rent abatement now that will then be tacked on to the end of your lease. Another potential solution is asking your landlord for 3-6 months of rent abatement, with higher rent in the months following so they are made whole by end of year. There is no cookie-cutter approach, but we are prepared to work with you, to think creatively and innovatively, and to facilitate these conversations with your Landlord in a cooperative way.

 

How Do I Communicate With My Landlord? Do you Help with that? Now is the time to communicate with your landlord, and our job as a tenant only commercial leasing representative is to be part of those communications on your behalf. Landlords are humans, too—yes they have to work within their cash flow confines too, but they understand this pandemic as much as anyone else and value communication and cooperation. Step one is to review and understand your current lease and what rights you have within that. Step two is to strategize on how to communicate with your landlord; we help you develop and execute a plan and act as your tenant rep on all communications (you don’t pay us anything – you can thank us later by letting us represent you on your next long term lease 😊)  Step three is to open a dialogue with your Landlord and come to a solution that benefits you now when you need it most. 

 

Should I talk to an attorney? Do you have a recommendation? Before you plan and communicate with your landlord, you want to make sure you really understand your rights within your lease, and your rights as a tenant given the multiple Executive Orders and policy changes around rent payments and Landlord / Tenant relationships. In a continuing effort to be a value-add resource for tenants, we’ve asked the reputable law firm Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP (GEABP) to do a top level review of your lease and answer questions you have at no cost to you, and they have agreed. They are closely monitoring federal, state and local governmental and regulatory actions to stay informed on developments that may affect you. Their real estate team is active in the market for commercial, office, retail and hospitality leases, and they are committed to responding promptly to your initial questions, on an “off the meter” basis.

  

For many businesses, patience and innovation – thinking outside the box – is crucial right now. Both Vicus Partners and GEABP stand ready to help you navigate these uncharted waters by video conferencing, phone, or e-mail, and at no cost to you. We’re all in the business of making money (yourself included), but are first in the business of being human and coming together in challenging times.

We remain committed to being your unwavering advocate and your partner in long term success, and are grateful to be in a line of work that lets us bring tangible benefit to you as a tenant during these times. Please contact us at brosenblatt@vicuspartners.com or astein@vicuspartners.com if we can answer questions on your existing lease and how to navigate paying commercial rent during Coronavirus.

In good health,

Bert & Andrew

Vicus Partners Founders