By Robert Tannenhauser
I am an Upper West Side resident and a landlord of a multi-family building with several street level commercial tenants.
Like many of you, I am staying home because of a pre-existing condition and my age. My responsibility to my residential tenants is to make sure that we maintain a safe and secure building during this challenging time. To this end, our building staff is working overtime to not only perform their normal duties, but also disinfect common areas and on an hourly basis disinfect door knobs, elevator buttons, stairway railings and other items that are frequently touched. They also have to deal with tenant package deliveries and perform emergency repairs, all the while maintaining social distancing for their protection and the protection of the tenants.
Our commercial tenants have closed their stores and it is questionable whether they will survive, much less pay their rent. Residential tenants, many of whom have seen their source of income disappear, are looking for rent relief.
We understand and want to help but here is the conundrum. We have to pay our staff, pay our mortgage, pay insurance premiums and pay real estate taxes. Unfortunately rental real estate businesses are not eligible for relief under the CARES Act. To make matters worse, most mortgage loans, including ours, prohibit their borrowers from giving rental relief and thus far the government has not offered relief from real estate tax payments which are due in 2 ½ months.
We can only hope that those tenants that can afford to pay some or all of their rent will do so and the government will offer relief on taxes and mortgage payments, which we can pass on to our tenants. If buildings default on mortgage payments resulting in foreclosures, this will cause losses to banks and further exacerbate the economic crisis.
*Robert Tannenhauser and Carol Tannenhauser, the editor, are married. This article was written by Mr. Tannenhauser alone.