Legislature May Shift Focus as End of Eviction Moratorium Looms
A major anti-owner legislative proposal that RSA warned about leading up to the pandemic may once again gain traction as we head into a new year.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic ravished New York in March 2020, RSA led a major public relations campaign to educate about a proposal in the State Legislature known as Good Cause Eviction. As a reminder, the bill would, for all practical purposes, create a new system of rent controls that creates a permanent tenancy for almost every tenant in the State. Barring any lease violations, such as non-payment of rent, the owner would have to renew a tenant’s lease and would be limited to minimal rent increases set by the government when the lease expires. It would provide a tenant with a life tenancy, allowing them to rent an apartment or home until they die or determine that they don’t want to continue to lease the property any longer.
The bill was expected to gain momentum leading into State Budget process of spring 2020. However, the proposal was completely placed on the backburner as a result of other legislative priorities created throughout the pandemic. We would be remiss if we did not mention the success RSA had in attempting to stop Good Cause Eviction leading up to the pandemic. As you may recall, RSA launched a three-part video series that detailed the true intentions of the proposal and the negative consequences that it would have on rental housing throughout all of New York. This video series was shared with various building owner associations and chambers of commerce throughout the State who were completely unaware of what the bill entailed. RSA also wrote numerous op-eds in various publications and spoke on panels in areas such as Buffalo and Long Island.
RSA made a valiant effort in ensuring that this proposal did not get passed nearly two years ago. However, the progressive, anti-owner members of the Legislature have once again made Good Cause Eviction a priority now that the statewide eviction moratorium is set to sunset once and for all on January 15, 2022. In addition to the eviction moratorium being extended four times over the last 19 months, COVID-related business restrictions have been lifted for over six months, thousands of tenants have since returned to work, and the Emergency Rent Relief Program (ERAP) has provided nearly $2.7 billion in federal rent relief funds for COVID-impacted tenants. Nevertheless, New York lawmakers continue to politicize the pandemic and will now seek to use it as the main reason why Good Cause Eviction must be passed.
As a result, RSA has once again ramped up its efforts against Good Cause Eviction. In late October, RSA sent mailings to four State Assembly districts: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto. The goal of these mailings was not only to educate the constituents of these districts about the negative impact of a potential Good Cause Eviction law, but also to highlight these lawmakers’ ongoing support for the statewide eviction moratorium. Although larger rental properties exist in these three particular districts, they are mostly filled with Class 1 properties, which would also be impacted by Good Cause Eviction. RSA felt that it was important that these property owners were also educated on the issue.
The mailings ultimately created much uproar amongst constituents within those districts. RSA was able to open dialogue with Board Members of Bronx Community Board 10 within Assemblyman Benedetto’s district and our staff was subsequently invited to speak before the Board’s Housing and Zoning Committee to educate more about Good Cause Eviction. In order to maintain the pressure on the Assemblyman, as well as Senator Alessandra Biaggi, who is a major supporter of Good Cause Eviction and whose district overlaps much of Benedetto’s, RSA will continue to work with the constituents of this district. We also hope to open similar dialogue in other various Community Board districts throughout the City. As we went to press on this issue of the RSA Reporter, our staff was also preparing to send out mailings to additional Assembly districts.
In addition to this effort, RSA was in the midst of conducting a major polling effort in various areas throughout New York State to gauge where voters may stand on Good Cause Eviction. Furthermore, RSA was preparing to invest into a robust social media, print, and radio campaign to discuss the potential negative impact of Good Cause Eviction.
We will have more updates on these efforts in the months to follow. In the meantime, we encourage you to view our Good Cause Eviction educational videos from early 2020 on YouTube if you have never seen them. Although the timeline of the proposal is outdated in the videos, the messaging and details of the proposal remain the same. Visit https://bit.ly/3qmPNl1 to view the videos.