Landlord waives April rent for 200 tenants amid pandemic, wants everybody 'healthy'

"I say don't worry about paying me, worry about your neighbor and worry about your family," Brooklyn landlord Mario Salerno said.
Image: Mario Salerno, a landlord in New York, has forgiven the rent of all 200 tenants in his building for the month of April.
Mario Salerno, a landlord in New York, has forgiven the rent of all 200 tenants in his building for the month of April.NBC New York

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By Minyvonne Burke

A New York City landlord is giving his 200 tenants one less thing to worry about amid the coronavirus pandemic as he waived rent for the month of April.

"I want everybody to be healthy. That's the whole thing," Mario Salerno told NBC New York.

Salerno, 59, owns roughly 80 apartments across Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He said after some of his tenants told him that they were worried about paying rent because they lost their jobs due to the pandemic, he decided to take action.

On March 30, he posted a notice on the front doors of all of his buildings announcing, "Due to the recent pandemic of Coronavirus COVID-19 affecting all of us, please note I am waiving rent for the month for April."

One of his tenants said she's been out of work since she was ordered to shut down her hair salon. "He's Superman. He's a wonderful man," Kaitlyn Guteski told NBC New York. "It's a game-changer."

Salerno said he knows he will take a big hit this month, but isn't worried.

"For me, it was more important for people's health and worrying about who could put food on whose table," he told the outlet. "I say don't worry about paying me, worry about your neighbor and worry about your family."

He said he hopes other landlords will do the same, and some have.

Nathan Nichols, who owns two units in Portland, Maine, told his tenants several weeks ago that they don't have to worry about paying the rent for April.

He told NBC's TODAY that his sister works in the service industry and was getting stressed out about the income she was going to lose, and he knew his tenants were feeling that same anxiety.

"I wanted to ease a little bit of that," he said. "I know how damaging it can be for a kid to live through this kind of stress."

In San Diego, California, Jeff Larabee's 18 tenants were told that they would not have to pay rent for the next three months.

The small business owner told NBC San Diego that he came to this decision after three of his tenants reached out to him and said they were concerned about making their payments.