NYC Landlord Who Owns 80 Apartments Cancels April Rent Due to Coronavirus

New York has been hit hard by COVID-19.

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Image via Getty/Drew Angerer

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As COVID-19 has hit New York the hardest, some landlords are taking it easy on their tenants.

One Brooklyn landlord has waived rent fees for his residents during the month of April. Mario Salerno revealed his decision to his tenants on March 30, by posting a notice on the front doors of his buildings: “Due to the recent pandemic of Coronavirus COVID-19 affecting all of us, please note I am waiving rent for the month for April,” it read.

“STAY SAFE, HELP YOUR NEIGHBORS & WASH YOUR HANDS!!!” Salerno also wrote on some signs.

The 59-year-old owns around 80 apartments with 200 to 300 tenants in total in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods. He said he reached the decision when a number of tenants said they were having a hard time getting by amid the pandemic.

“I want everybody to be healthy,” he told NBC New York. “That’s the whole thing.”

New York has become a hotspot for coronavirus, causing enormous amounts of job losses. According to The New York Times, surveys taken last month show that an estimated 40 percent of renters in the city couldn’t pay for April rent. Salerno told TheTimes that he didn’t care about not collecting his rental income for the month or calculating how much he wouldn’t receive, which is probably in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I told them just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table,” he told the publication.

In addition to the buildings, Salerno also runs the Salerno Auto Body Shop and a gas station, which his father started in 1959. During the 1980s, Salerno began purchasing vacant lots in Brooklyn as storage for damaged cars that needed to be repaired. He then transformed 18 of those lots into apartment buildings in the 90s.

Even during the global health crisis, the repair shop and gas station are still open for business. While he wishes he didn’t have to work on people’s cars during the pandemic, he said he has customers who need him. “Do I really want to do a simple oil change and a brake job?” he said to The Times. “No, but I have a lot of doctors and nurses who need their cars serviced.”

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