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In an effort to provide greater rights to tenants and help to stabilize the housing market in New York State, the Good Cause Eviction bill is currently being considered by the State Legislature.
If passed, it would go into effect in 2024.
Good cause eviction has yet to be voted on by the citizens of New York State. The bill, which would require landlords to have a good reason to evict tenants, did not make it out of committee last year.
Tenant advocates argue that the bill is necessary to protect tenants from being evicted without good reason. They also argue that it would help to stabilize the housing market, as it would make it more difficult for landlords to raise rents.
The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 made a number of significant changes to landlord-tenant law in New York State. Some of the most notable changes include:
A ban on "self-help" evictions, meaning that landlords cannot evict tenants without going through the courts.
A limitation barring landlords from charging more than one month's rent as a security deposit.
A requirement that landlords allow tenants to inspect the rental property both before the tenant moves in and after the tenant moves out.
A requirement that landlords provide tenants with 30, 60, or 90 days' notice of lease termination or a rent increase of 5% or more, depending on how long the tenant has lived there.
A requirement that landlords provide tenants with a written notice of any changes to the tenant's rights and responsibilities.
A requirement that landlords provide tenants with a written notice of any inspections that they plan to conduct of the premises, as well as a written notice of any repairs that need to be made to the premises.
A requirement that landlords return the security deposit within fourteen days with an itemized list of any deductions.
A requirement that landlords make reasonable efforts to re-rent a housing unit before attempting to collect lost rent from a tenant as a result of breaking the lease.
Landlords cannot evict tenants who complain about mold, pests, or other problems, and tenants have the right to file a lawsuit if they feel retaliated against. This may complicate efforts to mitigate such problems, especially in circumstances where the level of repairs required would render the unit uninhabitable during the renovation.
The Eviction Moratorium
Before the long term effectiveness of Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 could be evaluated on its own, an eviction moratorium was implemented in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium prohibited landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent.
The moratorium was extended several times, and it finally expired in January 2022.
As a result of the eviction moratorium, the number of evictions declined significantly. In 2020, there were 27,000 evictions in New York State. In 2021, there were 15,000 evictions. This represents a decrease of 47%.
The Impact on Tenants
The eviction moratorium had a significant impact on the lives of tenants. Tenants who were facing eviction were able to stay in their homes and avoid the financial and emotional stress of eviction.
The legal aid societies that receive grants use the money to help tenants who are facing eviction get legal representation. The legal aid societies help tenants understand their rights and how to navigate the eviction process.
New York State provides grants to legal aid societies to help tenants facing eviction. In 2022, the state awarded $25 million in grants to legal aid societies to provide free legal assistance to tenants facing eviction. The grants are funded through the state's Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the largest recipients of the ERAP program were low-income households. The NLIHC estimates that over 10 million households received ERAP funds, with an average award of $5,000. This means that ERAP provided over $50 billion in rental assistance to low-income households.
The NLIHC also found that the ERAP program was more effective in reaching households of color than white households. For example, 60% of Black households and 55% of Hispanic households received ERAP funds, compared to just 30% of white households. The NLIHC's findings are consistent with other research on the ERAP program. For example, a study by the Urban Institute found that Black and Hispanic households were more likely to receive ERAP funds than white households.
The Impact on Landlords
The eviction moratorium also had an impact on landlords. Landlords were unable to collect rent from tenants who were not paying, and they were also unable to evict tenants who were causing problems in their properties. This led to tremendous financial losses for landlords.
According to a study by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, landlords in New York State lost an estimated $2.6 to $4.6 billion in revenue due to the eviction moratorium. The study found that landlords lost an average of $11,400 per tenant who was not evicted during the moratorium.
The National Apartment Association estimates that landlords lost $40 billion in rent revenue in 2020 alone. The association also estimates that landlords will lose an additional $30 billion in rent revenue in 2021.
The study also found that the eviction moratorium had a disproportionate impact on small landlords. Small landlords were more likely to be unable to afford to pay their mortgages or property taxes if they were not collecting rent, and many small landlords were forced to sell their properties.
Landlords in New York State could lose significantly more money if good cause eviction legislation is enacted.
Good cause eviction would make it even more difficult for landlords to evict tenants. For example, landlords would no longer be able to evict tenants for violating the lease without first giving them additional time to cure the violation.
The law defines a good reason as a "just cause" for eviction. Just cause reasons include:
Habitual late payment / non-payment of rent.
Destruction of property.
Illegal activity on the property.
Repeated noise complaints.
Harassment or intimidation of other tenants.
Failure to maintain the property.
Abandonment of the property.
The Good Cause Eviction law includes a number of new protections for tenants, including:
The right to a hearing before a judge before being evicted.
The right to be represented by an attorney.
The right to discovery, which means that tenants can access evidence that the landlord is using to evict them.
The right to appeal an eviction decision.
The state of New York has not yet announced how it will pay for tenant's attorneys or court costs under good cause eviction. However, there are proposed options:
Create a state fund to pay for tenant's attorneys financed by taxing landlords or through a general fund.
Allow tenants to sue their landlords for damages if they are evicted without good cause. If tenants win their lawsuits, they could be awarded attorney's fees.
Landlords may be left with few options if good cause evictions are enacted by the State of New York:
Landlords can lobby their elected officials to reject good cause eviction.
Landlords may need to challenge the laws in court, arguing that they are unconstitutional.
Landlords can try to sell their properties.
Tenants' First Right of Refusal
The idea of giving tenants first right of refusal of the property they rent becomes available for purchase was proposed by the New York State Tenants Association (NYSTA). The NYSTA is a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of tenants in New York State. The NYSTA believes that giving tenants first right of refusal would help to protect tenants from being displaced from their homes and communities.
The NYSTA's proposal would allow tenants to purchase the property they rent if the landlord decides to sell it. The tenant would have the first opportunity to purchase the property at the same price that the landlord is offering it to other buyers. This would give tenants a chance to stay in their homes and communities, even if the landlord decides to sell.
The NYSTA's proposal has been met with mixed reactions. Some landlords support the proposal, believing that it would help to keep tenants in their homes and communities. Other landlords oppose the proposal, believing that it would give tenants too much power and would make it difficult for them to sell their properties.
The NYSTA's proposal is also currently being considered by the New York State Legislature. It is unclear whether the proposal will be passed into law.
Is Good Cause Unconstitutional?
The constitutionality of good cause eviction is a complex issue that has been debated by legal scholars and courts for many years. There is no clear consensus on whether or not good cause eviction is unconstitutional.
Some argue that good cause eviction is unconstitutional because it violates the right to due process of law; a legal principle that requires the government to follow certain steps before depriving a person of life, liberty, or property. They argue that landlords have a right to evict tenants without good cause, and that good cause eviction laws violate that right.
If good cause eviction were enacted in New York State and a landlord wanted to reacquire their property in order to renovate or sell it even though they had a tenant who had no just cause for eviction, they would not be able to do so.
Others argue that good cause eviction is constitutional because it is a reasonable regulation of the landlord-tenant relationship. They argue that landlords have a duty to provide habitable housing to their tenants in perpetuity, and that good cause eviction laws help to ensure that landlords meet that duty.
Ultimately, the question of whether or not good cause eviction is unconstitutional is likely to be decided by the courts. There is no clear consensus on the issue, and it is possible that the courts will reach different conclusions in different cases.
New York State's Declining Population
According to the New York State Department of Housing and Community Renewal, the number of housing units in New York State declined by 0.2% from 2019 to 2020, while the population of New York State increased by 0.4% during the same period. This means that there were fewer housing units available for each person in New York State in 2020 than there were in 2019.
According to a study by the Furman Center at New York University, the demand for housing in New York State fell by 11% in 2020. The study also found that the demand for housing was even lower in the city of New York, where it fell by 16%.
There are a number of factors contributing to the decline in New York State's population, including:
Outmigration: More people are moving out of New York State than are moving in. In 2021, New York State lost an estimated 299,557 people to other states.
Decline in births: The number of births in New York State is declining, while the number of deaths is increasing. In 2021, there were 208,659 births in New York State, compared to 210,458 births in 2020. The number of deaths in New York State increased from 196,504 in 2020 to 198,133 in 2021.
An aging population: The population of New York State is aging, which means that there are fewer people of working age and more people of retirement age. This is putting a strain on the state's economy and infrastructure.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York State's population decreased by 0.9% between 2021 and 2022, to 19,677,151. This was the state's largest annual decline since the 1970s.
A Destabilizing Housing Market
Government has typically sought to influence the housing market in favor of low-income and middle-income families by increasing the supply of affordable housing through building public housing units and by providing subsidies to developers who build affordable housing, as well as regulating specific rental markets by capping rent increases and by making it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants.
A study by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development found that the average cost of an eviction in New York City is $10,000. This includes the cost of legal fees, court costs, and damages to the property.
Inflation has risen by 8.6% since 2020 in the United States. This is the highest rate of inflation since 1981.
The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In March 2020, the average rate was 3.31%. In March 2022, the average rate was 6.84%.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average household energy bill in the United States has increased by 22% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The price of gasoline has increased by about 50% since the start of the pandemic. In March 2020, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $2.37. In March 2022, the national average price was $3.84.
Disruptions in the supply chain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have made it more difficult to get the materials and labor that are needed to build new housing and made it more difficult to maintain existing housing.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median asking rent for a vacant unit in the United States increased by 12.5% from 2020 to 2021. This is the fastest pace of rent growth in over 20 years.
A recent report by the Rochester Business Journal found that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Rochester has increased by 15% since 2020. The report also found that the vacancy rate for apartments in Rochester has declined to 3.8%, the lowest level in over a decade.
Steeply Declining Housing Options
There are a few reasons why there can be a shortage of housing in New York State even as the population is declining.
The population of New York State is not declining evenly across all parts of the state. The population is declining in rural areas, but it is growing in urban areas. This means that there is a greater demand for housing in urban areas, even as the overall population of the state is declining.
The cost of housing in New York State is very high. This makes it difficult for people to afford to buy or rent a home. As a result, people are often forced to live in smaller homes or in less desirable neighborhoods.
New construction has not kept pace with demand. This is due to a number of factors already mentioned, and also includes the high cost of land and construction, the slow pace of government approvals for new housing developments, and the lack of skilled workers in the construction industry.
As a result of these and other factors, there is a growing net shortage of housing in New York State even as the overall population of the state is declining.
Right Sized Solutions
The New York State Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved a plan to build 500,000 new housing units in New York State over the next 10 years. The plan includes a variety of measures to increase the supply of housing, including:
Increasing the number of affordable housing units
Simplifying the process of building new housing
Providing financial assistance to developers
The plan is still in its early stages, but it is a sign that the state is taking steps to address the shortage of housing.
The Need for Further Study
It's difficult to say how well the The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 will protect tenants against unjust evictions without the added protections provided by the eviction moratorium. However, there are some early indications that the law is having a positive impact.
For example, a recent study by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development found that the number of evictions in New York City declined by 20% in the year following the implementation of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. The study also found that the number of tenants who were able to stay in their homes after being served with an eviction notice increased by 10%.
These findings suggest that the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 is helping to reduce the number of evictions in New York City and is helping tenants to stay in their homes. However, it is important to note that the study only looked at the first year after the law was implemented. It is possible that the law's impact on evictions will change over time.
More research is needed to determine how well the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 will protect tenants against unjust evictions without the added protections provided by the eviction moratorium.