As we’ve shared before, the escalating costs — and legal hassles — of leasing a small shop or restaurant in New York City is threatening the existence of such businesses in certain areas of the city. Recognizing the growing number of unaffordable legal battles the smallest of some small businesses are facing over lease-related issues, the New York City Department of Small Business Services has started a new Commercial Lease Assistance Program.

The new program will provide up to 40 hours of legal services to a qualifying small business owner involved in a lease-related legal issue, including:

  • Signing a new commercial lease
  • Amending, renewing, or terminating an existing commercial lease
  • Addressing a commercial lease-related issue

The program “will give small-business owners the help they need to resolve legal issues without driving them out of business,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.

The program’s aim is to prevent small business owners and building owners from ending up in court. The city will not offer legal representation in court, according to

The legal services will be offered in partnerships with:

  • Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A
  • Volunteers of Legal Services
  • Urban Justice Center

Businesses can learn more about the program on the Commercial Lease Assistance Program’s website.

To be eligible to participate, a business must:

  • Meet the Small Business Administration (SBA) size standard (PDF)
  • Be located in New York City
  • Not be a franchise establishment
  • Meet the income eligibility requirements of the legal service provider


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