In response to the Albany Appellate Court’s decision to overturn the city’s Good Cause eviction protection law, Housing Justice for All Campaign Coordinator Cea Weaver and member groups responded with the following statements.
The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court ruled today that local Good Cause laws are preempted by state law, meaning that they can only be passed at the state level. The decision now immediately shifts the focus to the state legislature to take action.
Cea Weaver, Campaign Coordinator of Housing Justice for All:
“In July 2021, Albany became the first city in New York to take decisive action to protect tenants from unfair evictions and exorbitant rent hikes by passing common-sense Good Cause legislation. Now, thousands of families could lose their homes.
For the past two years, Albany tenants have used Good Cause to fight predatory landlords and keep a roof over their heads. Tenants at the Bleecker Terrace housing complex stopped their landlord from hiking rents as high as 100% and brought management to the negotiating table to make necessary repairs. A disabled tenant was able to stop a $500 rent hike after calling Code Enforcement about his substandard living conditions. And a pregnant tenant was able to buy time to find new housing after her landlord handed her an eviction notice because he didn’t want any children in his apartment.
With Albany tenants in limbo, this court decision only makes passing statewide Good Cause more urgent. If cities can’t pass Good Cause, the state must act now to pass this crucial legislation.
The Bleecker Terrace Tenant Association in Albany:
“When Opus Management, our New Jersey-based corporate landlord, bought up our complex and tried to jack up our rent, we used Good Cause to stay in our homes. In July 2022, after months of organizing, Opus Management and their attorneys met with Bleecker Terrace Tenant Association (BTTA), United Tenants of Albany, and Legal Aid, and agreed not to exceed annual rental increases of more than 5%.
Good Cause is what let us win affordable rents – and now, all of our progress could be thrown out the window. In the last few weeks, while Albany’s Good Cause law has been pending appeal, our neighbors have started getting lease renewals with rent increases upwards of 21%. It is frightening to think that even before this tenant protection was struck down, our landlord was already feeling comfortable enough to go back on our agreement. We know that if our legislature does not immediately pass statewide Good Cause eviction protections, most of us will end up homeless or in shelters. Tenants in Albany and across the state need Good Cause now to protect ourselves from predatory corporate landlords.”
Rebecca Garrard, Legislative Director, Citizen Action of New York:
“This decision ends any possible debate about whether we need statewide Good Cause tenant protections. We cannot continue to keep tenants stuck in this limbo where their ability to stay in their homes depends on the whims of the courts and their chance at stability disappears with the next decision. It is time to guarantee Good Cause protections to every tenant in New York. We are encouraged by the progress the bill is making in the legislature and look forward to it becoming law in this year’s budget.”
Canyon Ryan, Executive Director, United Tenants of Albany:
“Tenants in the City of Albany fought hard to pass Good Cause Eviction protections. They organized the media, their legislators, and their communities. When Good Cause passed, tenants organized their neighbors to combat illegal rent hikes, lease terminations, and baseless attempts at displacement. Now, these same tenants are at-risk of retaliatory evictions because activist judges decided to strike down local protections on the basis of statewide preemption. This decision makes it clear: the legislature must act now to pass Good Cause Eviction for all renters in New York State.”
Housing Justice for All is a statewide coalition of more than 80 organizations representing tenants and homeless New Yorkers, united in our fight for housing as a human right.