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Arkansas landlord waives rent so restaurant tenants can pay employees

Clay Young, a landlord in Jonesboro, Arkansas, hopes his message inspires other property owners to do the same for their tenants.

JONESBORO, Ark. — Property manager Clay Young is very invested in his town of Jonesboro, Arkansas-- financially, sure, but also emotionally. 

When Young, who works during the day as a financial adviser, first moved to the area, he saw a lot of potential in the "rundown" downtown. So he started an "side hussle" of purchasing historic buildings and turning them into apartments and restaurants. 

Today, he owns about 38 properties under the management group Young Investment Company, LLC. Five of his tenants are restaurants. 

Like other small businesses nationwide, these establishments are currently limited to only serving customers via carry-out because of the coronavirus pandemic. The measures meant to suppress the virus have dealt a serious blow to business. 

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Young estimates most of these tenants will lose about 50 percent of their normal revenue. 

He first realized business as usual would be impossible under the circumstances when one of the restaurant owners called Young to ask if he could wait to cash March's rent check.

He ripped up the check, but after having a "down" day himself, he wondered what more he could do for the other tenants and employees. Some of them were single parents or had families and would likely struggle to make ends meet. 

So he decided to waive rent for all five restaurants, telling them instead to pay their employees. 

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"I needed some good news selfishly," he said. 

Though he's losing about 20 percent of his gross rent for the month, Young said the morale booster was worth it. He said if it's necessary to do the same for May as well, he will. 

He hopes the move encourages other landlords to do the same.

"I hope people don't think about themselves but try to help other people." he said. 

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