Landlords of the world, unite?

New statewide coalition is real estate industry’s version of grassroots organizing

A new statewide alliance of landlords called Under One Roof NY is hoping to open some doors in Albany.

The group represents some 1,500 upstate and New York City landlords, according to its spokesperson, Rochester-based real estate attorney Jaime Michelle Cain. It includes property management firms and landlord groups from the capital region and southern New York, as well as national and New York City-based landlord lobby groups.

The coalition aims to fill a gap that facilitated the passage of a tenant-friendly rent law in June, when downstate legislators dismissed the concerns of constituent landlords and upstate lawmakers barely heard from theirs.

The New York Capital Region Apartment Association, one of the groups anchoring the coalition, recently organized a packed event at a Utica casino where upstate landlords discussed lobbying strategies and potential litigation to challenge the state’s new rent law, as well as membership dues. The formation of this coalition appears to be the group’s first concrete step toward statewide organizing.

Its first priority is to snuff out Brooklyn Sen. Julia Salazar’s bill to establish good-cause eviction, a hot-button issue for landlords across the state. The legislation would prevent landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent that has been raised by more than 1.5 times the consumer price index.

“We intend to provide the legislature with specific revisions to text in the laws,” said Cain. “We’re focused on educating them and giving them real data. Landlords are here because they have an economic interest in their neighborhoods. We don’t want to see good and responsible landlords exiting the market.”

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The group has a $30,000 grant from the National Apartment Association, an umbrella group representing owners. The NAA is one of five national groups providing financial support for a lawsuit brought by two New York City landlord organizations — Community Housing Improvement Program and the Rent Stabilization Association — challenging the constitutionality of New York’s new rent law.

Other members include the Chemung County Landlords Association; the Institute of Real Estate Management Chapter 58, which represents building management workers in Rochester; Capital Region Chamber, the largest chamber of commerce in the Capital region; the Park Avenue Landlord Association of Rochester; Glendale Communities, a Western New York property manager; and WEBB Rentals.

CHIP's Jay Martin

CHIP’s Jay Martin

“What brought us all together is this drive for universal rent control,” said Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, an Under One Roof member. “We’re all against just-cause eviction and universal rent control.”

Still, the upstate and New York City groups don’t see eye-to-eye on everything: Cain said the upstate groups are not looking to help fund the constitutional challenge. But Martin indicated that will not divide them.

“I’m under no illusion we’re going to be able to solve that chasm,” said Martin. “We’re looking for areas of mutual agreement.”

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