Trenton – Legislation which would authorize the Governor to issue an executive order to permit an emergency rent suspension for small business tenants who are economically distressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic passed the Senate yesterday. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein.
“We are currently faced with a public health crisis compounded with the threat of long-term economic ramifications on a national and regional level,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “The small businesses that are the lifeblood of our local economies and the heartbeats of our downtown districts find themselves in a state of financial uncertainty. By authorizing the Governor to permit emergency rent suspensions, businesses would be able to remain in operation during the crisis, keep more cash on hand to pay salaries and wages, and would be well-positioned to contribute to the economic recovery as the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end.”
Under the bill, S-2363, if the Governor issues a rent suspension executive order during a public health emergency or a state of emergency, then a distressed small business tenant may claim an emergency rent suspension. A rent suspension would begin once the tenant notifies their landlord, or their landlord’s agent, of their request. Thus, landlords would be prohibited from evicting a distressed small business.
The executive order would include a six-to-nine-month schedule for businesses to repay their unpaid amount. Repayment would begin on the first day of the second month following the end of both the state of emergency and public health emergency.
The bill also outlines that the executive order may designate as unlawful an intentional misrepresentation by a tenant of their economic circumstance made to obtain an emergency rent suspension.