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What If the State Actually Did Something to Protect Tenants During This Statewide Housing Crisis?

Sure seems bad all over New York. Maybe lawmakers should do something?

Apartment buildings in NYC.

(Niklas Herrmann / Unsplash)

Good Cause Eviction laws passed by cities around the state keep getting struck down, as judges continue to side with landlords who have brought cases challenging the statutes—in November, Newburgh's law was voided; last week, it was Albany's; and on Wednesday, Poughkeepsie's Good Cause provisions were the latest to be struck down

In all these cases, judges have found that these local tenant protections violate state law. (Their rulings have tended not to address whether these laws are, as Greg Drilling, a member of the landlord group Homeowners for an Affordable New York, put it, "an ideologically-driven pursuit by far-left socialists.")

More on what happened in Poughkeepsie, via the Times Union:

In two court decisions entered Tuesday, Poughkeepsie City Court Judge Frank M. Mora ruled in favor of Lakr Kaal Rock, LLC, against two tenants—an 87-year-old woman and a mother of a two-year-old—who sought to dismiss non-payment proceedings and reverse a rental increase under Poughkeepsie’s "good-cause" eviction law. In denying their claims, Judge Mora deemed the "good-cause" eviction law unconstitutional.

Similar to the decisions in Albany and Newburgh, the Poughkeepsie City Court judge found that the local "good-cause" law was preempted by state law.

"Here, this Court finds that the GCEL passed by the City of Poughkeepsie is void and unenforceable under the New York State Constitution because the GCEL is inconsistent with duly enacted New York State Laws on eviction proceeding," the decision reads. "ORDERED, that the GCEL enacted by the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council is deemed unconstitutional, thereby rendering it VOID and UNENFORCEABLE under New York State's 'Preemption Doctrine.'"

Congrats to Lakr Kaal Rock, LLC for successfully fighting for your right to evict an 87-year-old and a mom with a young kid. 

Kingston and Beacon's laws remain on the books, but landlords are now urging Kingston's elected officials to repeal the law it passed last year in response to a dire housing emergency.

Perhaps it's time for the state to do something, given that judges seem to find the landlord lobby's arguments persuasive? The mayor of Kingston, Steve Noble, thinks so. Kingston's housing vacancy rate is an absurdly low 1.5 percent. "I am hopeful that this decision will push our state lawmakers to adopt common sense housing legislation that protects a tenant's right to renew a lease with reasonable rent increases, as well as the other good cause eviction protections," Noble told the Daily Freeman, echoing calls from other local leaders throughout New York state. 

Will our governor heed those calls? On Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul caused a bit of a stir when, in response to a tenants' rights activist, she stated that Good Cause Eviction "is on our list, too." 

Hochul later clarified that she meant GCE is on her "NOT to do list," and "is not part of her housing plan." Thanks for clearing that up. 

Some links that are definitely on our "list" (of links):

And finally, watch the political gears spin in real time:

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