Rental prices in New York City have increased 33% between January 2021 and January 2022. Some residents have even stated their rent increases have jumped 70% between leases. Downtown Brooklyn, SoHo, Tribeca, and Battery Park City are reported to have surpassed record-high costs. With the New York State eviction moratorium expiring on January 15th paired with inflation, renters are looking for protections to avoid being priced out of their neighborhoods.
Help could potentially come in the form of the Good Cause Eviction bill. The measure was introduced by Sen. Julia Salazar of Brooklyn and Assembly Member Pamela Hunter of Syracuse in 2019 and 2021 without coming up for a vote.
Fourteen labor groups representing hundreds of thousands of workers are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul and state legislators to support these needed protections, according to The Gothamist. If the law passes, landlords would still be permitted to evict a tenant, but under reasons that would be labeled “good cause.” Some examples would include failure to pay rent, causing a nuisance, or if the landlord wants to take back the apartment to use it themselves.
The law would also allow tenants to challenge “annual rent increases that are over 3%, or in years when inflation is high, over 150% of the consumer price index, whichever is higher.” The strategist for the Housing Justice for All Coalition, Cea Weaver, spoke about landlords’ leverage in evictions.
“Landlords are forcing people to leave their homes for no reason other than the lease is up,” said Cea Weaver, a tenant rights advocate, and a strategist for the Housing Justice for All Coalition. “They are achieving their aim largely by refusing to renew leases and hiking rents. This legislation gives tenants a right to remain in their homes unless landlords have a good reason to force them out.”
Not everybody is on board with the potential measures, however. Rochester, the largest city in New York to consider “good cause” protections so far, had their city council vote it down. A spokesperson for Homeowners for an Affordable New York, Ross M. Wallenstein, also described the legislation as “overreaching.”
“These unions may think they are helping everyday renters, but really what they will do in pushing for this overreaching legislation is causing higher property taxes, higher rents, fewer quality homes and impossible undue burdens on property owners,” Wallenstein said.
A study notes that Black New Yorkers are three times as likely to get evicted than whites. The Bronx, which has the highest share of Black renters, had the highest number of eviction cases the first months after the moratorium was lifted. If good cause measures are in place, one-fourth of all renter households in the county would be eligible, NYU-CSSNY reported.