Small businesses will now receive free legal services for issues related to a business lease. On February 6, 2018, the de Blasio administration announced the launch of the new Commercial Lease Assistance Program, which will offer assistance to small business owners with lease negotiation, landlord issues, lease renewal, and eviction notices. Non-franchise businesses that meet an income requirements will be eligible for this program.
The program will receive $2.4 million in funding over two years, providing an average of 40 hours of legal services per client and a dedicated attorney to work with each business owner. The program will provide the services in partnership with Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, Volunteers of Legal Services, and the Urban Justice Center. Examples of businesses that may be eligible include immigrant-, minority-, women-, or veteran owned, businesses that employ low-income residents, businesses located in a rezoned or high-poverty areas, or offer job training opportunities.
Mayor de Blasio said: “Small businesses are the economic heart and soul of this city and they deserve every opportunity to succeed, The Commercial Lease Assistance Program will give small business owners the help they need to resolve legal issues without driving them out of business.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson welcomed the program and stated that “Free legal assistance regarding lease or landlord issues can go a long way for small business owners, saving money and passing on savings to local residents.”
The new program will assist small business owners with pre-litigation services to help resolve problems before they end up in court, and will not represent clients in matters that do end up in court. The services provided can include sending legal correspondence to landlords, addressing tenant harassment issues, and resolving challenges when building ownership changes.
By: Dorichel Rodriguez (Dorichel is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2017.)