ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Legislation to pass what activists refer to as “Good Cause Eviction” is up for debate again in Albany for this session sparking new support and concerns for people who rent and work as property managers.
Both the senate and the assembly have bills that are identical and aimed to prohibit evicting tenants without having a good cause. Those who rent and are on fixed incomes in Rochester feel it’s needed more than ever, but property owners have concerns about what it will do to pricing and drive local landlords out of the business.
Members of the Rochester Tenants Union like Justine Harris -and Patina Jones believe the City of Rochester and Monroe County are in a crisis due to the lack of affordable housing and renters ending up in court too easily for eviction.
“If I want to speak up and say there’s violations going on I shouldn’t get violated by the landlord,” Jones said. “And maybe get evicted because I dislike how they’re not taking care of the property.”
“Help the families stay where they are because they shouldn’t let outsiders come in and raise the rent,” Harris added. “And force people out of their homes then call that affordable rent. It’s not affordable for my family and me.”
In both bills that have yet to be voted on, landlords are prohibited from raising rents more than 1) 3% or 2) 1.5 times the annual percentage change in the region’s consumer price index without justification. Renters would also have more of a say in renewing their lease. The Tenants Union argues this would fix an outdated broken system.
“I just got put into an apartment that got the same exact things going on,” Jones said. “And when I acknowledged the code violations. Now I’m facing eviction. I’ve been to court twice in almost a year because I spoke up and said there’s fraud going on.”
Local property owners like David Lane, who’s president of the Finger Lakes Landlord Association, have concerns this bill overlooks risk factors property owners face in this business with costs of managing their units always changing. And will drive family-owned companies out of business.
“I paid $15,000 more to the natural gas company this year than I did last year,” Lane said. “That equates to $35 per apartment per month. And $35 is about a 5% increase, so it’s already over that 3% cap.”
Lane acknowledged New York has a housing shortage but believes new laws like these will drive developers away despite Governor Kathy Hochul’s promise of 800,000 new units to be built.
“If legislation such as the Good Cause legislation goes through, she’s going to have a tough time finding people who want to build rental properties in New York State,” Lane continued. “They’re going to go somewhere else that doesn’t have this legislation. I like the approach better on incentivizing builders.”
Currently, every unit for rent that Lane manages and most of the properties his colleagues in the Finger Lakes Landlord Association oversee are listed below the market rate. But they fear the passage of Good Cause Eviction would force them to raise rents to the market rate.
Co-sponsors of these Good Cause Eviction Bills include Senator Samra Brouk, and Assembly Members Harry Bronson and Demond Meeks. Both have yet to be voted on the floor.