Carla Vianna | Eater New York | October 23, 2018

Restaurants struggling to cope with pricey rent hikes may benefit from a proposed bill — discussed Monday in City Council — that seeks to level the playing field between landlords and commercial tenants in NYC.

The bill, dubbed the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, gives tenants a right to a lease renewal, including a 10-year term for those in good standing. It also lets tenants demand arbitration if a rent hike is too high and extends to all commercial businesses, including restaurants. NYC currently has no restrictions on commercial rent increases.

It’s heavily supported by groups like the Friends of SBJSA, founded by historian and Columbia University professor David Eisenbach, and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who say the city is losing the bulk of its small businesses to hefty rent hikes they can’t afford.

But the bill faces stiff opposition from real estate powerhouses, as well as other organizations like the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. Real Estate Board of New York, a big opposer of the bill, argues that it fails to tackle the real issues that mom-and-pop shops are facing — like changes to minimum wages. Others say the bill would unleash a series of unintended consequences, such as discouraging landlords from renting their spaces to small operators.

The City Council’s Committee on Small Business discussed the bill Monday, October 22, and moving forward, changes are expected with both sides airing their concerns. It’s been three decades since a similar bill was first proposed, but nothing has ever solidified.