A package of new bills designed to help bolster restaurants struggling financially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic was passed by New York City Council yesterday.
Temporary caps will be put on third-party app fees, sidewalk licencing fees will be waived and commercial landlords will be prevented from harassing restaurants impacted by coronavirus or holding restaurant owners personally liable for unpaid rent.
During this unprecedented public health crisis, many restaurants are struggling just to stay afloat,” said Councilman Mark Gjonaj, the bills’ sponsor. “These bills could mean the difference between remaining open or closing their doors and laying off their employees.”
Delivery Fees Capped
In a bid to help restaurants in New York City, currently only allowed to provide takeout and delivery under local guidelines, the New York City Council voted to cap fees by third-party services at 15% per delivery order and 5% fee on other services.
Violations of the cap by these companies will result in penalties of up to $1,000 per day per restaurant. Delivery platforms will also be penalised for charging restaurants for phone calls that don't result in orders.
While the new measure is temporary, it will only remain in effect for the duration of the pandemic and 90 days after emergency orders are lifted.
In New York some delivery platforms have been charging as much as a 30 per cent commission to restaurants.
Sidewalk Licensing Fees Waived
The Council has also now suspended the city’s ability to collect sidewalk licensing fees for restaurants until February next year.
Commercial Tenants Given Respite
Affected restaurants with commercial leaseholds will also be protected from being harassed by landlords going after personal assets, as well as not holding restaurant owners personally liable for unpaid rent. Commercial landlords in breach of the new bill will face hefty fines.