Stronger Protections for Small Businesses Called for After Washington Heights Businesses Suddenly Issued Eviction Notices
New York -- On Wednesday, City Council Member Mark Levine, attorneys from The Legal Aid Society, and small businesses from uptown Manhattan gathered to announce collaborative efforts to provide legal assistance through The Legal Aid Society’s Community Development Project to six businesses facing eviction. The landlord, Coltown Properties, is preparing to evict a large group of Latino-owned businesses in Washington Heights.
Since March, Council Member Levine’s office, attorneys at The Legal Aid Society and six area businesses, have collaborated to negotiate terms that would allow the affected businesses to transition out of their present locations. The Legal Aid Society’s Community Development Project (CDP) and pro bono attorneys from one of NYC’s premier private law firms provided legal representation to the businesses when the parties involved reached an impasse. Legal Aid staff helped the businesses reach favorable terms to offer them financial incentive and additional time to find a new location.
In addition to highlighting coordinated efforts between his office and small business advocacy groups in the area, Council Member Levine described the need for stronger protections for small businesses against the situation experienced by the commercial tenants in his district. The tenants were paying rent without a lease after having been repeatedly refused one, and then were suddenly issued eviction notices three months ago. Coltown Properties is legally required to provide 30 days notice of an eviction.
Among the businesses targeted for eviction were La Cancha, Yamasa Barbershop, Sebastian Income Tax Multi Services, and Dinoliza Novedades. Another business, Punta Cana Restaurant, remains in litigation with the landlord. The restaurant has been in the community for over 30 years and their struggle is mirrored by many decades-old establishments in New York City.