NYU warns of unintended consequences of “good cause eviction”

Contested policy pitch could squeeze supply, discourage development: NYU

The Unintended Consequences of “Good Cause” Eviction

A photo illustration of Furman Center faculty director Vicki Been and Housing Justice for All’s Cea Weaver (Getty, NYU Law, Housing Justice for All)

The specter of “good cause” eviction continues to loom over New York’s rental market. A new policy brief out of NYU’s Furman Center is warning of more unintended consequences if the proposed legislation passes.

The bill proposed in the state could extend rent regulation to the free market, says the policy brief reported by The City. The paper argues the proposed legislation in New York is tougher than in other markets. 

“The discussion in New York has tended to focus on protections that look more like an extension of rent regulation than the anti-gouging protections some other cities and states have adopted,”  said Vicki Been, faculty director of the Furman Center and the city’s former housing chief.

The legislation could restrict development and narrow tenants’ choices for housing, the report argues.

Housing Justice for All’s Cea Weaver pushed back, telling the outlet the guideline for rent increases was not a cap, making it an anti-gouging law. Under the rule, tenants would be able to challenge rent increases through Housing Court — potentially spelling a rush in cases headed for the already-burdened court system. 

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It’s unclear how many apartments would be covered by the law, which is aimed at propping up lease renewals and preventing major rent increases. The New York Housing Conference put the number at nearly 1 million units, but roughly half of those are in buildings with three units or fewer, which would be exempt if they’re owner-occupied.

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Most similar laws enacted in other parts of the country are either relatively new or not yet studied extensively, leaving New York landlords, tenants and politicians will be diving into the unknown without a case study to guide the way.

As it stands, the bill allows tenants to challenge evictions resulting from “unreasonable” rent increases, defined as more than 3 percent or 1.5 times than the regional inflation rate, whichever is greater. Sen. Julia Salazar, who sponsored the bill, and Weaver have both expressed a willingness to negotiate.

The state budget deadline is one month away.

Holden Walter-Warner