Albany — The City of Albany's "good cause eviction" law was struck down once again by a state Appellate Court on Thursday, ruling that the local law illegally infringed on state law. The city had appealed a court ruling from June 2022 also overturning the law, which was enacted in 2021.
Tenant advocates say the law made a difference, keeping yearly rent increases down.
"At Capital Crossing, 279 households said 'We're not going to take it, we're not going to allow you to increase our rent 100 percent,'" United Tenants of Albany Executive Director Canyon Ryan says. "Management came to the table with these tenants and said 'We agree, no rents beyond 5 percent. That's the law, you guys are good.' Now that the law is being struck, they're trying to increase, 21, 26, 30 percent." CBS6 reached out to Capital Crossing owner Opus Management, but have not received a response.
Laurie Buitrago of the Bleecker Terrace Tenant Association says since the Good Cause Eviction Law was struck down, notices of rent increases went out to approximately 35 of the tenants.
"35 tenants who have been there 10-20 years are pending these renewals right now," Buitrago says. "They did get notices of a 21 percent increase, and now with good cause off the table, they have no protection."
Tenants pushing to keep the law, and landlords pushing against it, are turning their focus to a current bill proposed to make the law state-wide.
"The rents have gotten so crazy high, it's adversely affecting the economy because people don't have enough money to spend on things other than housing," Democrat Assemblyman Phil Steck, a Co-Sponsor of the bill, says.
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The law would make it so landlords would only be able to evict tenants if the tenant violated the lease agreement, while also placing limits on yearly rent increases. Property owners say enacting the law at the state level would lead to higher rents, and would lead to less affordable housing.
“Albany property owners applaud the Appellate Court for making the right decision," Leanne Politi, spokesperson for Homeowners For an Affordable New York, says. "But passing good cause eviction on the state level will be detrimental and will do nothing to address the housing supply shortage or rising cost of living. In fact, it would make finding an apartment more difficult and more expensive for new renters. Good cause eviction is another unrealistic concept that will cripple our communities and drive more people out of the state.”
Some legislators say as the tenants have had to deal with inflation, so have the landlords.
"The government, especially lately, is trying to make a lot of dictates instead of just letting the market set what the price is," Republican Assemblymember Mary Beth Walsh says. "The harder you make it on landlords, the less likely you'll have landlord who are going to want to let out the units and their apartments. It's going to reduce housing stock which is going to be a problem going forward."
Right now, Governor Kathy Hochul is pushing her New York Housing Compact Plan, hoping to build 800,000 homes over the next decade. Some say this Good Cause Eviction bill could help.
"If it's harder and harder to charge outrageous rents, maybe some people will think more about how to build affordable housing," Steck says.
He believes the bill should remain on its own, while the tenants say they're hoping it is introduced and passed through the budget, which is due at the end of the month of March.
"[The Governor's] plans for the future are amazing," Buitrago says. "However they're not going to do anything for our current situation and that's what good cause does. Good cause protects us now, today."