NYC Bodega Owners Need Lease Protection
Small bodegas are the lifeline of New York’s neighborhoods. These small grocery stores, known for their convenient proximity and friendly staff, have serviced local residents for years. But according to Ramon Murphy, bodega owner and president of the Bodega Association of the United States, bodegas are disappearing at alarming rates.
“Last year, 137 of them went down only along Broadway from 230th to179th St
,” says Murphy. “Hundreds of bodegueros [bodega owners] are throwing in the towel. Every day, two or three close in New York.”
Murphy says that the one-sided lease renewal process is the primary driving force behind the closures. “Leases are the No. 1 problem.” Landlords either do not renew them or want to raise the rent four or five times what they are currently charging. And in many instances, you have to give money under the table for the lease to be extended.”
New York City Councilman Robert Jackson (D-WashingtonHeights) is sponsoring the Small Business Preservation Act. The bill, introduced last June, would provide relief for tenants faced with unfair evictions. The bill would provide—for the first time since 1963—rights for commercial tenants at lease renewal time.
Councilman Jackson notes that his bill is not commercial rent control. Every decision would be made on a case-by-case basis, and the rent charged determined only by negotiations between the landlord and the tenant or an arbitrator if an agreement cannot be reached.