Lawmakers and tenant advocates are gearing up for their next fight to further limit evictions throughout New York state.
Compassionate New York, a coalition of tenant, health and criminal justice advocates, along with several state legislators, are pushing for the passage of good cause eviction, a policy that would limit rent increases and guarantee lease renewals for tenants.
Under the proposed bill, which has undergone some tweaks since it was first introduced in 2019, tenants who don’t pay rent can’t be evicted if the nonpayment results from an “unreasonable” increase in rent. The measure defines “unreasonable” as any increase exceeding 3 percent of the annual rent, or 150 percent of the region’s Consumer Price Index, as set by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, whichever is higher.
The coalition estimates that the state could save as much as $1.6 billion each year, a figure that includes the cost of providing emergency shelter, medical care and other services to rental households facing eviction in the state. The group says 40,000 households are currently at risk, based on a “Cost of Eviction Calculator” tool created by the University of Arizona.
It’s unclear how many evictions the bill would ultimately prevent per year.
Eviction protections for tenants who filed financial hardship declaration forms expire May 1, with no word yet on whether those will be extended. Lawmakers approved a process for releasing $2.4 billion in rent relief as part of the state’s budget, which included some eviction protections for recipients of the aid. But the coalition believes more needs to be done to protect renters.
“The most vulnerable New Yorkers live in unregulated housing, and we need some protections from rent hikes and retaliation to get a stable recovery,” said Cea Weaver, who leads Housing Justice for All, which is part of the coalition. “This is how you wind down a moratorium. We can’t face an eviction cliff.”
The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Julia Salazar and Assembly member Pamela Hunter, outlines limited circumstances under which a landlord can deny a lease renewal or pursue eviction. For example, owners of small buildings with an “immediate and compelling necessity” can also take back an apartment to occupy as their primary residence.
Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, said the bill’s name is “misleading.”
“It is fantasy to suggest that Good Cause Eviction would save New York any money,” he said in a statement. “If enacted it would put in place the most stringent rent control system in the country. History has repeatedly shown that strict rent controls lead to less housing, higher rents, and more homelessness.”