Good cause, also known as the “right to renew,” would bar most landlords from evicting tenants unless they can show a “good cause,” such as failure to pay rent or violation of other terms of the lease. It would require landlords to offer a renewal lease to tenants in good standing and prevent major, arbitrary rent hikes, which advocates say are often used to push tenants out.
Opponents say the policy would place an excessive burden on small landlords, and is unnecessary given that New York already has some of the strongest tenant protections in the country.
But organizers say the policy is designed precisely to protect the broad swath of tenants not covered by rent stabilization laws, which for now still apply almost exclusively to the New York City area.
A rally in May for good cause eviction in Albany. | Courtesy of Rebecca Garrard
“There is a massive housing crisis especially here in upstate New York, where there’s less regulation around rents and eviction,” Brahvan Ranga, political coordinator at the grassroots advocacy group Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, told New York Focus. “The state legislature failed to address this crisis. [So] activists and local leaders are taking matters into their own hands, to start to pave the way for the rest of the state.”
Statewide, roughly half of tenants are rent-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, according to a 2019 report from the state comptroller’s office. One in four Black families and nearly one in three Latino families spend more than half of their income on rent. And nothing prevents landlords from raising their rents further when a lease expires — in many cases, leaving tenants with little choice but to leave.