“Good cause” eviction bill amended, advances in Albany

Legislation was excluded last year from overhaul of rent regulations

Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez and State Senator Julia Salazar (Credit: Getty Images)
Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez and State Senator Julia Salazar (Credit: Getty Images)

New York landlords’ worst nightmare, the “good cause” eviction bill, is on the move.

State Sen. Julia Salazar’s bill was amended Thursday to allow for a rent increase of 3 percent or 150 percent of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is higher — up from just 150 percent of CPI in its original form.

Language forbidding evictions of tenants who are hit with “unconscionable” rent increases was also changed — to “unreasonable,” which lawmakers preferred, according to supporters of the bill.

The legislation will now head to the Senate judiciary committee, which is scheduled to meet next week.

In a video released yesterday by tenant coalition Housing Justice for All and the Legal Aid Society, the controversial legislation got a boost from Rep. Nydia Velasquez and Henry Garrido, who leads District Council 37, New York City’s largest public employees union.

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A majority of Democratic legislators in both the Senate and Assembly now support the legislation, which some real estate industry insiders say is still unlikely to pass this year. Matthew Barron, legislative director for Sen. Neil Breslin, who represents Albany and is a co-sponsor of the bill, said that the bill has yet to be scheduled for a committee vote.

Barron said the Albany senator’s office “hasn’t heard anything” from real estate lobbyists about the legislation since it fizzled out last year.

“We’ve had a couple of people [from Housing Justice for All] come into our office and talk to us about it, but we liked where it came from last year,” Barron said.

In a statement, Jay Martin, executive director of the small-landlord group Community Housing Improvement Program, called the bill “ill-fated.” CHIP, along with the Rent Stabilization Association, also a landlord organization, filed a federal lawsuit to overturn last year’s rent law.

“This policy is unsustainable for small building owners, whose properties will be gobbled up by private equity and hedge funds,” Martin said. “It will cripple the tax base for New York and will do nothing to lower rents or create more affordable housing.”

A poll conducted in January by proponents of the bill found strong support among New Yorkers for requiring “that landlords have a good reason to evict a tenant,” such as “not paying rent.”