LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Just Cause Eviction Could Hurt Market Rate Renters

Philip Weiden | October 2019

The so-called “just-cause” eviction bill (S.2892A) sponsored by New York State Senator Julia Salazar in the last legislative session is going to come up again in 2020 with the new session. This bill will be something we all must fight to either defeat or to significantly amend.

The Senator is noble in her goals. She wants to preserve and expand affordable housing, however this is not the best way to do it.

Just cause eviction would essentially prevent landlords from evicting tenants if they did not renew their lease or if they do not pay the rent. The lease would then revert to a month-to-month lease and make it nearly impossible to evict a tenant. This is a significant weakening of private property rights.

A landlord could go to court and have the court hear the case, but the housing court is already over loaded. The other concern is whether this would affect just the city or the entire state. Another issue with this proposal is that it is a one size fits all attempt across the state. Many places without rentals and multi-family housing will not have specific problems solved by this legislation.

We, as Realtors, need to provide proactive solutions. One way to do this is to endorse permanent housing for people who are rent-burdened or cannot afford the rent. Utah has eliminated its homeless population by embracing this solution instead of building shelters. Another solution is to support higher voucher amounts and tie rent to income so if the rent goes up, then the voucher and assistance goes up for the renter.

The impact of the new rent reform law passed in June is already having negative consequences as rental property prices have fallen and properties remain vacant. To address the rental issues fully, the property tax system also needs overhauling in New York City. This was supposed to have been accomplished over the last several years and has not.

Finally, Albany needs to look to more creative solutions to the issue; other areas of the country e.g. Minneapolis, have found solutions that work there and our state government needs to look for approaches that would work in New York State.

Philip Weiden
Legislative Affairs columnist Philip Weiden is the Government Affairs Director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.