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Why are housing advocates furious over ‘Good Cause Eviction’ bill as adopted in state budget?

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

New York State housing advocates say they are furious about the so-called “good cause eviction bill” in the new state budget.

It grants tenant protections to people in New York City but all other municipalities will need to opt in. It also requires renters to know their landlord’s portfolio to determine eligibility for “good cause” eviction protections and the information can be hard to find.

Ritti Singh, communications organizer for the group Housing Justice for All, said previous iterations would have balanced tenant and landlord interests.

“What it required landlords to do was to show they had a valid cause of eviction, which would include nonpayment, violating the lease, causing trouble, if the landlord wanted to move into the unit,” Singh outlined. “It also allowed tenants to contest rent increases over 3%, or 1.5 times the rate of inflation.”

For all its potential benefits, a New York University study noted “good cause” eviction comes with just as many drawbacks. It can discourage maintenance investments in buildings, and increase the cost of resolving landlord-tenant disputes. Singh noted the bill was not designed to crimp a landlord’s ability to do business but to make the housing system fairer.

Cities like Rochester and Ithaca are close to declaring housing emergencies due to rising rents. Municipalities must have a vacancy study rate below 5% to declare a housing emergency. Singh pointed out the housing crisis affects renters statewide.

“Rents are rising faster in Syracuse than they are in New York City,” Singh emphasized. “In March, rents hit record highs in New York City. Rural New York is expected to see a surge of evictions over the next decade, and Long Island renters face the highest cost burdens in all of New York State.”

Newburgh declared a housing emergency last year but the Orange County Supreme Court recently overturned the decision. The petitioners’ attorney argued Newburgh’s vacancy study was inaccurate. The Emergency Tenant Protection Act does not cover the city’s renters now and jeopardizes other tenant protections the city has proposed.