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371 Madison Street Rent Abatement

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Dear 371 Madison Street Building Management:

We the undersigned are writing because of our concerns about the financial repercussions of the current global pandemic and how it may affect our ability and responsibility to pay rent at 371 Madison Street. The looming worldwide health crisis will require much from all of us. Some of us may become ill while others may lose loved ones or their own lives. Undoubtedly, the repercussions of this will affect us all and it will require all of our efforts and concentration to address this terrifying event. In such extreme circumstances, it has become clear to us that we must prioritize safety, health and well being over financial considerations and this view is shared by our own federal and local governments, the Center for Disease Control, governments across the globe as well as the World Health Organization. In the majority of European countries as well as Canada and New Zealand, rent requirements have been annulled, and complete rent amnesty has been assured to tenants. As of this writing, New York governor Cuomo has already suspended mortgage payments for property owners in financial hardship and we fully expect an official statement soon on rents as well, with attendant rescue packages for landlords. New York state has already signaled a move in the direction of tenant protection by instituting a three month eviction moratorium through at least June 2020.


The financial circumstances of the tenants at 371 Madison vary greatly but a large proportion of us make our livings in the freelance realm, through the arts, the fashion industry, construction trades, the service industry and many other forms of employment that are already and will be entirely halted in the next few months. This means total loss of income for many of us and tremendous disruption and hardship for many more. In many cases it will simply not be possible to continue to meet rent payments as specified under our leases. The seismic magnitude of the public health emergency and the financial shock wave that we have already begun to experience surely and certainly represent force majeure and so our rent responsibilities must be reassessed.


In light of the above, we propose a system by which tenants’ rents are calibrated to their current and projected income. To fairly address this variation in the means of tenants at 371 Madison, we propose a system of rent abatement calibrated to the varying effect that the Covid 19 virus epidemic has had on each tenant’s financial circumstances. Specifically, there will undoubtedly be some whose ability to pay rent is unaffected by the health emergency while others will have already experienced a complete and abrupt income shutdown which would make any rent payment impossible. In between, there may be some households that have experienced (and will continue for the foreseeable future) some financial hardship as a result of this epidemic. In our view, a calculation of the respective rent responsibilities (on a sliding scale) tailored to each tenant can and must be negotiated. We keep in mind that the situation is evolving daily and circumstances may change so we hope that all parties would remain flexible.


While we trust that all will honestly portray their respective financial pictures accurately, tenants would agree to furnish reasonable information at the landlord’s request to demonstrate their respective levels of need and how their income has been affected by Covid19.


This proposal does not suggest a temporary loan on behalf of the landlord but rather a clear absolution of rent responsibility according to the above criteria. We make this proposal in good faith and due to the obvious and grave circumstances that we all now face. We would expect the landlord to make a commitment not to seek eviction or any retaliatory measures against those who participate in this rent reassessment project. We appreciate the message of the recent posted letter from the building management which ends with the lovely sentiment that “together we can prevail”. In this spirit, we deem it the ethical responsibility of the landlord to consider the financial hardship of their tenants in the face of this unprecedented health emergency.

Sincerely,

371 Madison Street Tenants Group

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