Real estate industry

The real estate industry is taking over in Albany

Furiously opposed by landlords and building owners, eviction for cause would limit rent increases to 3% or 1.5 times the rate of inflation, whichever is greater, and prevent landlords from refusing the renewal of leases to tenants who have always respected the conditions of their leases. Every tenant in New York, in essence, would enjoy some of the protections of a rent-stabilized tenant. Local legislatures passed a good cause into law in the towns of Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Newburgh and Albany. Good cause versions already exist in California, Oregon and New Jersey.

Relatively speaking, the good cause is not as radical as either side – leftists in the housing movement or landlords in opposition – believe. New York’s affordability crisis won’t be solved by a good cause, and homeowners will always reap the benefits. Development of much-needed housing can continue and high rents can still be posted. What will change is the ability of landlords to capriciously evict working and poor tenants, even when they pay their rent on time. Housing court won’t be as crowded with cases.

Given that good cause supporters weren’t trying to socialize housing, but simply to give tenants more leverage when their leases are in effect, it was plausible that the bill would pass through the Legislative Assembly this year. . It is important to remember that the New York City Council cannot legislate for cause; a 1970s provision prevents the city from tightening its rent laws without state approval. Albany here controls the fate of the city.

And Albany, right now, is shooting for a good cause. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who like her predecessor is getting closer to the real estate industry, won’t state her support for the bill. Neither the legislative leader — Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie nor Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​— is prioritizing its passage. Progressive Democrats, once ascendant, find themselves facing a wall: the legislative session ends on June 2. (That should be an artificial deadline because there’s no reason state lawmakers can’t show up in July or August to pass important bills, but they won’t.)

The good cause seems dead for various reasons, some of them illegitimate. A number of Democrats are afraid to pass controversial or notable bills in an election year. Others said they were too focused on the redistricting chaos and now wanted to focus on re-election and fundraising. Legislative oxygen has been consumed in recent days by the response to the Buffalo shooting, the impending repeal of Roe vs. Wadeand the debate over whether to renew a version of the 421-a tax abatement.

But Democrats should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, and there’s no reason serious consideration of the good cause can’t happen as the bill floats around Albany. for several years. A hearing was held in January. Current events are not enough to justify inaction.

More moderate members of the State Assembly remain ideologically opposed to the good cause — or at least skeptical. White Democrats in the suburbs and upstate see him more as a problem in New York. Within the city, the Assembly caucus is not as progressive as it first appears. A number of black lawmakers in Brooklyn and Queens, many representing both landlords and tenants, have chosen to side with the former rather than the latter. Landlords are a more organized constituency who, with the help of the real estate lobby, have decried the good cause as hurting their ability to rent parts of their homes to tenants. Meanwhile, there are state Senate Democrats heeding the cries of smallholders who see a good cause as a threat to their bottom line.

It’s not, but that argument wins, and the two legislative leaders seem to be giving up, for now, on fighting for a bill that should have become law years ago. For the tenants’ movement, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. The real estate industry, which is no longer on the defensive, has definitely halted its progress.

Quick holds

  • Max Rose, the former Democratic member of the House of Representatives, announced that after a redistricting, he will face Rep. Nicole Malliotakis in a rematch in the 11th congressional district. It will be a very daunting race for Rose in a district Trump won by eight points and in an environment that will greatly favor the GOP.
  • The 421-a property tax exemption seems dead in Albany, at least for now. The loss of the developer tax break is a blow to Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams, who wanted versions of the abatement to continue.
  • It’s official: New York has two main dates, one for the Assembly races on June 28 and another for the US Senate and House races on August 23. Blame court decisions for confusion, which will decrease participation.

Ross Barkan is an author and journalist in New York.

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