Coronavirus NYC: Some WeWork tenants want memberships paused during pandemic

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A large office sharing company has kept nearly all of its locations throughout New York City open during the pandemic, despite orders from the governor for non-essential workers to stay home.

Some tenants of WeWork say they're struggling to pay the bills for space they can't use and want their membership agreements paused or revised.

"All they care about is getting memberships, even though members can't access the space," said Joanna Savad, who rents office space on Greenwich Street in the West Village. "It doesn't make sense."

Savad said she hasn't been able to use the space, as her marketing and communications company isn't considered an essential business. She and her employees have been working from home.

"We are paying over $4,000 a month for a space, which is about 100 square feet," she said. "So the reason we are paying that much is really because of everything else they offer."

She didn't sign a lease with WeWork, she signed a membership agreement.

It's a membership that offers benefits like group activities for workers and communal perks that she's not getting right now. Savad compares it to have a gym membership, and she's one of a handful off business owners 7 On Your Side Investigates spoke with who want their WeWork memberships put on pause or renegotiated.
WeWork is the largest private renter of office space in New York, and its renters include thousands of small business owners.

More than a dozen lawmakers sent the company a letter asking them to close its doors and suspend the collection of reimbursement fees. That was back in March.

"They're not negotiating, I mean even what if it was half off membership, anything, it's dangerous to go there," Savad said. "It just doesn't make sense."

In a statement, a spokesperson for the shared office space company said, "WeWork has been working closely with individual member businesses to offer mutually beneficial solutions, and ultimately has been able to provide concessions to an overwhelming majority of those that have requested one."

A spokesperson said they're providing essential services still like mail delivery and that some of the communal perks are still taking place now online.

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