Rochester rejects good cause eviction

Legislation would have stymied rent hikes of 5% or more

New York /
Mar.March 18, 2022 04:00 PM
Miguel A. Meléndez Jr. with Rochester (Cityofrochester, iStock)

Miguel A. Meléndez Jr. with Rochester (Cityofrochester, iStock)

The good cause eviction movement endured one of its toughest defeats at the local level this week as a bill failed to pass the Rochester City Council.

City council members voted 6-3 Tuesday against the tenant protection law, RochesterFirst.com reported. The bill would have given paid-up tenants the right to automatic renewals and protections against retaliatory eviction.

Notably, the legislation would have deterred rent hikes of 5 percent or more — less favorable to tenants than a pending state bill that has a 3 percent rent-hike threshold. Still, with inflation soaring and property owners opposed to the bill, local lawmakers declined to adopt it.

Rochester would have been the largest municipality in New York to pass good cause. Just a handful have done so, but all have been within the past year.

The City-Wide Tenant Union claims that more than 3,000 eviction cases are open in Rochester, affecting nearly 7,000 residents.

“For some reason we aren’t seeming to weigh that huge majority that would be impacted by the law,” Lisle Coleman of the City-Wide Tenant Union told RochesterFirst.com. The city’s population is about 200,000.

Good cause legislation was endorsed by 14 labor unions in a letter sent to state legislators and Gov. Kathy Hochul last week. If the measure does not pass before the legislature adjourns in late June, it will likely be dead for the year.

Albany, Newburgh and several other localities have passed good cause eviction as backers try to build momentum for the statewide bill. In Hudson, a good cause bill was shot down late last year, the second attempt to push a bill through. The previous bill was vetoed by the mayor, but in that case, unlike in Rochester, the objection was that it was too favorable to landlords.

Rochester tenants have a history of struggling to get protections in place at the city level. Last year, a study revealed a 9 percent vacancy rate, above the 5 percent maximum needed for the city to opt into rent stabilization. Tenant advocates claimed many landlords gamed the outcome by declining to participate in the survey.

[RochesterFirst.com] — Holden Walter-Warner





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