Why do we need Good Cause Protections against evictions in New York State

New York State renters need protections against eviction. At least 100 families are evicted each day. 92,000 people are homeless.

In 2020, the State Legislature has an urgent responsibility to strengthen tenants’ rights for New York’s 8 million renters. The Good Cause Eviction bill, introduced by Julia Salazar in the State Senate (S2892) and Pamela Hunter in the Assembly (A05030), would expand tenants’ rights across New York State. It would prevent no-fault evictions, and require landlords to justify rent increases above 1.5% of the consumer price index.

Evictions are a cause, not an effect of poverty. Evictions have generational impacts on children, by disrupting education. They impact job stability and health. On the other hand, preventing no-fault evictions would encourage landlords and tenants to invest in neighborhoods, increase family stability, and enable development without displacement.

Data4Progress, Good Cause eviction: statewide poll. January 2020

In January 2020, Data4Progress polled New Yorkers across the State on whether or not they support “a bill to require that landlords have a good reason to evict a tenant – such as a tenant not paying rent.”

Good Cause Eviction Faq:

Good cause eviction gives every tenant in New York State the right to a renewal lease, and protections against unconscionable rent hikes:

  • It stops landlords from removing tenants from apartments without an order from a judge. The judge would decide if an eviction is for a good cause. (The end of a lease is not a good cause, so it effectively prevents landlords from arbitrarily deciding not to renew leases.)
  • It gives tenants the right to continue to live in their homes regardless of lease status, it allows tenants the power to stand up to their landlords and demand other things — like safe living conditions/quality of life concerns — without fear of retaliation.
  • A $500 or $1000 rent hike is as good as an eviction. Rent increases over a certain threshold – currently 1.5% of the consumer price index – could be considered “unconscionable,” depending on other conditions. (More below.)

What doesn’t good cause eviction do? How would it work?

  • It doesn’t protect tenants who break the terms of their lease: for non-payment, for crime, et cetera.
  • Personal use by the landlord is considered a good cause for eviction. Landlords are able to reclaim apartments covered by good cause for their own use on households with less than 12 units.
  • Protect tenants from rent increases based on other things besides rent: landlords would be able to pass capital repair costs onto their tenants, and other things as well — fees, et cetera.
  • It doesn’t regulate the rent in between tenancies. Every time someone moves, the apartment would reset to the market rate rent.
  • It doesn’t create a regulatory agency that would oversee rents. Tenants would enforce good cause eviction themselves. For example, if a tenant receives a lease with what they believe is an “unconscionable” rent increase, it is incumbent on the tenant to challenge that lease and up to a judge to determine the answer.

    For example: In 2019, landlords would have been able to raise rents on apartments covered by good cause by 3.3%. Any increases beyond that would have required justification, if challenged, to a judge. They could have been justified in any number of ways: improvement costs can be passed on to tenants, et cetera.

Good cause eviction doesn’t attack small landlords, or homeowners.

  • This bill is designed to take on the corporate landlords that are buying up homes in our communities. In fact, good cause is actually good for homeowners. By slowing speculation, it will help first time homebuyers compete in the market.
  • Good landlords already abide by what is in good cause. It rewards good actors and discourages bad ones from participating.

What kind of housing is covered:

  • Good Cause protects tenants who live in buildings with less than 6 units, and tenants that live outside of New York City where rent stabilization is not in effect. It would also protect deregulated apartments (above the $2700 threshold.)
  • It exempts owner-occupied buildings with less than 4 units.
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