Cea Weaver learns there’s no free lunch

Landlords lambaste tenant advocate’s complaint after “good cause” rally snafu

Housing Justice For All's Cea Weaver in a to go lunch
Housing Justice For All's Cea Weaver (Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

When Cea Weaver took to Twitter this week to grumble about a canceled lunch she’d been denied a refund for, landlords seized on those gripes to extend an analogy: The tenant advocate was expressing the same ideology that birthed good cause eviction. 

Weaver’s Housing Justice For All had planned a march on Albany Tuesday to rally for the eviction protections when a nor’easter forced Gov. Kathy Hochul to declare a state of emergency and close the state Capitol.

The advocacy group claimed Hochul made the decision to shut down the planned protest. 

Either way, Weaver was left holding the bag on lunch. 

“I ordered lunch for 1500 people to come to the capital on Tuesday, “ Weaver tweeted Wednesday morning. “They closed the bdg bc of a state of emergency and au bon pain is saying they can’t refund us?!?” 

Landlords replied to lambaste the advocate, dismissing her expressed outrage at the lunch chain. 

“Did you think they could tell [their] supplier ‘just cancel our giant order?’” wrote Ann Korchak, spokesperson for the Small Property Owners of New York. “What about the staff they scheduled for the shift to prepare the lunch for 1500?” 

“Sounds like au bon pain operates in the real world,” she tweeted

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Others took the debacle a step further, comparing Weaver’s expectation of a refund with no thought of the vendor to the rent-restricted housing that good cause eviction would offer to the detriment of providers. 

“Sounds like #goodcause to me,” said Kennisha Gilbert, a landlord whose non-paying tenant assaulted her then flooded her home with dog urine during the pandemic. 

“Just as Prop. Owners are forced to house without compensation, force [Au Bon Pain] to give free food, why pay?” Gilbert wrote. 

Good cause eviction, which has received a mixed reception from lawmakers, would allow perpetual lease renewals and place a soft cap on rents by offering tenants a legal defense if their rent rose by over 3 percent or 1.5 times the inflation rate, whichever is higher.

Landlords argue the policy would compel them to keep on tenants but offer little chance to raise the rent, constricting their revenue streams, and would strip them of a fundamental right to control their properties. Supporters say housing providers should not be able to evict a rent-paying tenant just because the lease expires. 

Owners such as Gilbert who were forced to house tenants for free because of eviction protections from the statewide moratorium and rent relief program have bristled at the idea of another measure that would shield bad actors at landlords’ expense. 

“Of course a socialist wanting a refund doesn’t understand how a landlord could want [their] rental pymt & not have some 1 live 4 free.,” another landlord replied.  

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