Good cause eviction blasted by Chinese landlords, but backed by unions

Owners already struggling with nonpaying tenants take issue with progressives

City Council candidate Bernard Chow
City Council candidate Bernard Chow (Facebook)

Activist Chinese landlords are emerging as a critical voice against good cause eviction.

The landlords have protested regularly against tenant protection measures, The City reported, as good cause backers push for it to be included in the state budget, which is supposed to be enacted by April 1.

Supporters of good cause, meanwhile, added two unions to their roster of backers, which last year numbered 14, to no avail. The new additions are the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the United Federation of Teachers, City and State reported.

Good cause bills that have been stalled for two years in the Senate and Assembly would give tenants a defense against eviction in housing court if rent is raised by more than 3 percent or 1.5 times the regional inflation rate, whichever is higher. It would also limit evictions for reasons other than nonpayment and destructive behavior.

But small landlords don’t want to lose their ability to remove a tenant who no longer has an active lease.

Some fear good cause would give tenants another way to use the system to their advantage, as some did by applying for nonexistent rent aid to get eviction protection despite not paying rent. The ramifications of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program are still being felt by owners, although the applications portal closed this year.

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Some small landlords would not be affected by good cause, as it exempts owner-occupied buildings with three units or fewer.

In the Chinese landlord community, protests of the housing system have been ongoing for years. Multiple Chinese landlords are running or planning to run for public office in the coming years, likely as conservative counters to progressive Democrats who support good cause eviction.

Many of these landlords are taking their gripes to WeChat, a social media platform popular in their community. Others are taking their protests to the steps of housing courts and the governor’s Manhattan office. Every week, they rally in front of the Queens civil court.

“Chinese culture is a compromising one,” City Council candidate Bernard Chow told The City. “We don’t like to cause conflicts. But they take away our property value.”

The odds are against good cause eviction making it into the state budget legislation. But some form of it could be included in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Housing Compact, which might not have enough support to pass on its own. This year’s legislative session runs through the first week of June.

Holden Walter-Warner

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