Tenants in New York are feeling the pressure, with rent in Manhattan up 32 percent in April from the same time a year ago, according to a report, and housing courts are busy as resume evictions after a pandemic moratorium. Some renters wonder: is there any lighting? Tenant advocates say yes, pointing to a bill introduced last year in the New York state legislature called Prohibition of eviction without good reason† But what is ‘eviction for good cause’ and what would it mean for tenants and landlords if the bill, as it stands now, becomes law?
What is a good reason for eviction?
Under current legislation, landlords are not obliged to offer new leases to tenants in line with the market. On eviction with good reason, they should offer new leases, although tenants can still be evicted for rent violations, such as non-payment of rent or other violations.
Eviction from a good cause “gives you confidence that you can raise children” in your apartment, said Judith Goldiner, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society who helped write the legislation. “You don’t have to worry about being evicted.”
Similar laws already exist in New Jersey, California, and Oregon, as well as several New York municipalities, including Albany, Beacon, Kingston, Newburgh, and Poughkeepsie.
It is also a rent control proposal
The bill sponsored by New York State Senator Julia Salazar would limit rent increases to 3 percent or 1.5 times the annual percentage change in the consumer price index, whichever is higher. So if your rent is $2,000 a month, it could increase by as much as 12.5 percent, or $250, this year. But the bill also gives landlords room for even bigger increases if they show that their costs have increased or that they have made improvements.
Who would be covered?
This bill extends protections for tenants to essentially cover all tenants in unregulated homes, with a few exceptions, such as owner-occupied buildings with fewer than four units. The Community Service Society estimates the bill would affect 1.6 million households statewide — about half of all renters.
Tenants would be covered if they rent apartments in market-leading high-rises, have monthly leases, rent apartments or co-op units from private owners, rent single-family homes or sublet apartments from other tenants.
Tenants covered by the bill could still lose their apartment if property owners reclaim the space for personal use.
What do landlords say?
Landlords and their lawyers are concerned that the bill, as it stands, could lead to more lawsuits over housing as tenants challenge rent increases, and that it would cast a net so wide that it would affect property owners who find themselves may not think of them as landlords in a traditional sense, such as single-family home owners, sublet tenants, and co-op and apartment owners who rent out their apartments.
Ann Korchak, the chairman of the board of Small Property Owners of New York, a landlord advocacy group with about 600 members, said she was concerned that the legislation would prohibit landlords from emptying their properties to sell or take back simply because they can’t. longer wanted to rent them out. “It seems almost impossible for owners to reclaim their properties,” she said.
Ms. Korchak, whose family owns two brownstones on the Upper West Side, also expressed concern about limiting rent increases in an inflationary environment. “It’s just not realistic to think that rising costs on the owner’s side aren’t being passed on to” tenants, she said. “That’s how the economy works.”
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