As many of New York’s residents received no financial income and struggled to pay their rent as a result of stringent lockdown measures, one Brooklyn landlord cancelled rent for hundreds of tenants, ensuring that they would have enough money for groceries and other essential items.
On March 30, landlord Mario Salerno posted a sign on the front doors of all eighteen of his apartment buildings in Brooklyn, informing his tenants that they would not need to pay rent for the month of April. The sign read, in all capital letters:
Please note I am waiving rent for the month of April 2020. Stay safe, help your neighbours and wash your hands!!!
Salerno made the decision to cancel his tenants’ rent after a number of his tenants expressed worries that they would not be able to pay rent as a result of the city’s stringent lockdown measures put in place. For Salerno, however, he was unconcerned about losing a month’s worth of rental income; the health and wellbeing of his tenants were his main priority. In an interview with NBC New York, Salerno said:
I want everybody to be healthy. That’s the whole thing. For me, it was more important for people’s health and worrying about who could put food on whose table. I say don’t worry about paying me, worry about your neighbour and worry about your family.
In the local community, Salerno is an amiable and highly respected figure, known for his car mechanic Salerno’s Autobody, with one community member calling him “truly one of the kindest people I’ve ever met”. Salerno’s renters expressed immense gratitude for Salerno’s generous actions, framing him as an exceptional, even heroic figure. 28-year-old Paul Gentile, who lost his job as a lawyer for a personal injury firm when New York’s courthouses were closed on March 18, praised Salerno as a model landlord. He told the New York Times:
You don’t see that, especially in a landlord-tenant relationship in New York City. He’s amazing. It has alleviated a huge amount of stress that I have been having with the unemployment system in the state.
Another of Salerno’s tenants, Kaitlyn Guteski, was also relieved by Salerno’s considerate decision to waive rent fees for the month of April. Guteski didn’t know how she would pay her monthly rent after the hair salon she owns was closed due to social-distancing measures. Echoing the praiseworthy sentiments of Salerno’s other tenants, Guteski called Salerno “Superman” and “a wonderful man”.
It’s a pleasant change to see positive news in the current pandemic situation, however, Salerno’s decision to waive his tenants’ rent, while considerate, is only a temporary solution from one member of the public. If only the US government could think of permanent ones, instead of pointing fingers and throwing threats at China.
For more non-negative lockdown news, click here to see the boss who accidentally turned herself into a potato during a Microsoft Teams video meeting.
Featured image via The New York Times/Victor J. Blue.