"Good Cause" Evictions Bill Gaining Steam
A new law—which, as we previously reported, would give renters the right to a lease renewal in most cases and would also limit landlords’ ability to increase rents in “free-market” apartments—has received the backing of gubernatorial candidate, Letitia James.
The bill, sponsored by Brooklyn Sen. Julia Salazar and Syracuse Assembly Member Pamela Hunter, would prevent landlords from removing a tenant without a court order, even if that tenant’s lease expired, or if it never had a lease in the first instance. The proposed legislation also provides that every residential tenant will have the right to a renewal at a rent increase not to exceed 3% or 1.5 times the increase in the consumer price index.
About half of New York City's apartments are rent-regulated, leaving the property owners of the other half free to raise rents or deny lease renewals to existing tenants with as little as 90-days’ notice. (Some landlords claim that the ability to deny renewal leases allows them to remove problematic tenants without having to take them to court.)
“The problem with Good Cause is it’s incredibly restrictive,” said Ann Korchak of Small Property Owners of New York. “Not offering a renewal is a practice that can get rid of an untenable situation for every renter in the building.”
But advocates say the protections are needed to put an end to the predatory practices employed by the likes of Greenbrook Partners. In May, we published an article on that particular company’s purchase of a portfolio of buildings in Brooklyn, and how it raised rents and sought to remove existing tenants. The new law would prevent landlords from employing such questionable tactics, its supporters claim.
Ms. James’ endorsement for the Good Cause bill highlights the need and growing momentum for the measure, according to Legal Aid Society Staff Attorney Ellen Davidson. Her support “is a sign that it is a popular idea that is supported by the voters and that they are reflecting the need to protect tenants in the state and the interest in putting tenants before real estate,” Davidson said.
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