What is ‘eviction for cause’ and what does it mean for tenants?

New York tenants are feeling the pressure, with rents in Manhattan up 32% in April from the same period a year ago, report says, and housing courts busy as evictions resume after a pandemic moratorium. Some tenants wonder: is there any relief? Tenant advocates say yes, pointing to a bill introduced last year in the New York State Legislature called Prohibition of deportation without cause. But what is “eviction for cause” and what would it mean for tenants and landlords if the bill, as it currently stands, becomes law?

Under current law, landlords are not required to offer new leases to tenants at market rates. An eviction for cause would require them to offer new leases, although tenants could still be evicted for breaching the lease, such as non-payment of rent or for other infractions.

An eviction for a good cause “gives you confidence that you can raise children” in your apartment, said Judith Goldiner, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society who helped draft the legislation. “You don’t have to worry about getting kicked out.”

Similar laws already exist in New Jersey, California and Oregon, as well as several municipalities in New York, including Albany, Beacon, Kingston, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie.

In the bill sponsored by New York State Senator Julia Salazar, rent increases would be capped at 3% or 1.5 times the annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index, depending on the highest value. So if your rent is $2,000 a month, it could go up this year by as much as 12.5%, or $250. But the bill also gives owners wiggle room for even bigger increases if they show their costs have risen or they’ve made improvements.

This bill expands protections for tenants, essentially covering all tenants of unregulated housing, with some exceptions, such as owner-occupied buildings with fewer than four units. The Community Service Society estimates the bill would affect 1.6 million households statewide, or about half of all renters.

Renters would be covered if they rent apartments in high-rise buildings at market rates, have month-to-month leases, rent condos or co-op units from private landlords, rent single-family homes or under – rent apartments to other tenants.

Tenants covered by the bill could still lose their apartments if landlords reclaim the space for personal use.

Landlords and their advocates fear the bill as it stands will lead to more lawsuits in housing courts as tenants challenge rent increases, and it casts such a wide net that it would affect landlords who might not think of themselves as landlords in a traditional sense, such as owners of single-family homes, renters who sublet, and owners of co-ops and condos who rent out their apartments.

Ann Korchak, chair of the board of directors of Small Property Owners of New York, a homeowners advocacy group with about 600 members, said she was concerned that the legislation would prohibit landlords from emptying their properties to sell or repossess them. simply because they no longer wanted to rent. take them out. “It seems almost impossible for owners to get their properties back,” she said.

Ms. Korchak, whose family owns two brownstones on the Upper West Side, also expressed concerns about capping rent increases in an inflationary environment. “It’s just not realistic to think that rising costs on the landlord’s side won’t be passed on” to tenants, she said. “That’s how the economy works.”

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