Press Release

Small Property Owners of New York Announces Majority of Owners and Managers of Small Properties Are Working With Tenants by Reducing, Forgoing and Offering Rent Concessions

Through the pandemic, SPONY and its members have been working to keep businesses open and stable despite mortgage and property tax bills.

New York, NY – Small Property Owners of New York (“SPONY”) today released the results of a new survey showing that most managers and owners of small residential and commercial properties are working with their tenants by either reducing, forgoing, or granting some other rent concession to help keep them in their leases.

“Under normal circumstances small property owners have a difficult time keeping up with rising
property taxes, utilities, insurance, and maintenance costs. The pandemic forced many business to close their doors and rental incomes screeched to a halt. Nonetheless, property owners were still expected to pay their ‘pound of flesh’ in property taxes on time and without reductions. Small property
owners today are balanced on a knife edge, as we face lien sales, deadlines and reduced income.  Yet small property owners across the city are still doing their best to work with their tenants, despite the unrelenting external pressures.” – by Christopher Athineos, Jan Lee, and Joanna Wong,  Members of SPONY Leadership

During the period August 10 – 19, 2020, owners and managers of 1,332 residential and 123 commercial units completed a short survey about rent collection efforts during the pandemic and the impact of new laws recently passed by the New York City Council to respond to the pandemic.  The survey found:

  • 64% of respondents reducing, forgoing or giving other rent concessions to their tenants;
  • On average, during the period March to July 2020, rent was collected from 87% of residential tenants while rent was collected from 54% of commercial tenants; and
  • One out of five respondents have had commercial tenants surrender or threaten to surrender their leases since March 2020.

The most telling information from the survey comes from the comments owners and managers left about the struggles they are facing as small business leaders. Specifically, the impacts of the recently passed city legislation limiting, without remedy, the ability for owners to request rental payments or pursue debts.

While many perceive property owners as financially stable, a vast number operating their buildings as a small business and are facing potentially devastating effects if they are unable to receive rents for occupied units. Responses from SPONY members include:

  • “The harassment law needs to be clear as to what accounts for harassment because some tenants may report asking for rent more than once as harassment;”
  • “I can’t get tenants to commit to lease renewals because they claim I can’t kick them out;”
  • “There is no support for small landlords who have to pay their mortgage and all the bills. I am concerned that if tenants stop paying, then I will lose my home which has all my retirement savings invested in it;”
  • “The city council should worry about bailing everyone out instead of these new laws;” and
  • “I told tenants we should be honest about what is happening financially and work together to do the best we can.”

About SPONY

SPONY is a non-profit, self-help organization of small property owners founded in 1984 whose goal is to educate small property owners and promote networking among them while providing group power for the small property owner in New York City and Albany.  SPONY members are property owners mostly made up for long-term owners ranging from those who own one unit to a multifamily apartment building. Many of our members provide deeply affordable housing and are greatly invested in the communities where the property is located. Many of our members self-manage. Many of our members have a full-time career or job in addition to being a property owner. Many SPONY members live in the building which they own. Members include owners of both free market and rent regulated properties.

Media Contact: Joanna Wong, jowny102@gmail.com, 646-982-9082