Consumer Alert: Good Cause Eviction is one step closer to law in Rochester

Consumer Alert: Good Cause Eviction

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Good cause eviction is one step closer to becoming law in Rochester. The city council has introduced legislation similar to the measure the state Legislature passed in April. For small landlords who own fewer than 10 units, nothing changes. But big landlords will have to prove good cause to kick out a renter even after the lease expires.

When the state Legislature passed the measure in April, it gave municipalities outside New York City the choice to opt in. On Monday, Albany’s City Council became the first in the state to opt in. If the legislation passes in Rochester, landlords with more than 10 rental units would have to prove good cause before evicting a tenant. Good cause examples include a renter not paying rent, the renter using the unit for something illegal, or the tenant doing something that compromises the safety of other tenants.

Rochester’s measure would also cap the amount a landlord can raise rent at 10 percent. or 5 percent plus the Consumer Price Index — whichever is lower. So, the CPI is about 3.5 percent right now. That means if the measure were in place, rent increases would be capped at 8.5 percent.

Introducing the measure fulfills a promise made by several City Council members, but many housing advocates are not happy with the compromise measure that the state Legislature passed.

“With this compromise version of Good Cause, Governor Hochul is denying millions of renters across the state basic protection from rent hikes and evictions,” said Ritti Singh, communications organizer with Housing Justice for All.

She points to the fact that because cities have the choice to opt in, many will not, creating a hodgepodge of tenant protections. Housing advocates also are not happy about the many exceptions to the law, exceptions that Rochester also plans to adopt. For example, buildings with a certificate of occupancy issued in 2009 or later are exempt.  And as I mentioned earlier, small landlords with fewer than 10 units are exempt. Singh points out the fact that many landlords put their rental units under different limited liability companies, making it hard for tenants to know the landlord owns more than 10 units.

Opponents of Good Cause Eviction believe it will make Rochester’s housing crisis even worse because it will chase good landlords out of business.

The next step for Rochester?  City Council will hold public meetings so they can hear your feelings about good cause eviction. They’ve not yet set dates for those meetings.