In a ruling that could have major ramifications for co-ops and condos that allow subletting, state Supreme Court Judge Christina Ryba has struck down the City of Albany’s good cause eviction law, siding with landlords who argued the tenant-protection measure violated state law, Crain's reports.
A blow for housing activists and tenant organizations, the ruling will reverberate in other parts of the state where localities have enacted their own versions of good cause. For Democrats in the state Legislature who have tried and failed to pass the tenant protection bill since 2019, Ryba’s decision adds new urgency to their mission. Soon, good cause may be illegal everywhere unless the state law is changed.
Albany’s Common Council overwhelmingly passed the good cause bill almost a year ago and Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat, proudly signed it into law. Modeled on proposed state legislation, it includes a requirement that landlords cannot evict a tenant or refuse to renew a lease unless one of 10 possible conditions are met, such as a failure to pay rent or causing a property to be a nuisance. Language in the legislation limited rent increases to 5%, with some exceptions.
Ryba ruled that Albany’s law was in conflict with state law because it created an impediment to landlords’ access to courts and limited remedies provided by the state. While the lawsuit was filed only against Albany’s good cause law, the legal rationale for its undoing can probably be applied to Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Hudson and Beacon, which have all passed versions of good cause. Local laws limiting evictions and rent increases will likely be overturned.
Landlords, real estate developers and many co-op and condo advocates hate good cause because they view it as an infringement on private property rights and a potential cap on future development. Some fear it will curtail the power of co-op and boards to evict troublesome subletters.
The next fight over good cause won’t kick up until 2023, when lawmakers return to Albany and begin their regular legislative session.
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