Last night, the Common Council Legal Committee held an emergency meeting to consider what Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) referred to at the meeting as the "Rebecca Wolff amendments" to the "good cause" eviction law, which was passed by the Council in September and vetoed by Mayor Kamal Johnson in October so that those amendments could be made. The major amendment was the elimination of the ninth "good cause" for eviction:
The owner-landlord has in good faith entered into a contract for the sale of the housing accommodation and such contract requires that the housing accommodation be transferred free and clear of any and all residential tenancy obligations as a condition of such sale where the owner-landlord has no shared financial or other interest with the potential buyer other than the sale of the housing accommodation in question and submitted sufficient proof to the court thereof.
Given the circumstance, it would have been helpful if a red-lined version of the law had been made available to the public prior to the meeting. Instead, a version of the law that did not include the Rebecca Wolff amendments was posted on the city website.
At the outset of the meeting, Council president Tom DePietro announced that members of the public would be allowed to speak for two minutes each. Council members had no such restrictions. Speaking for the urgency of enacting the law, Alderman Rebecca Wolff (First Ward), whose request for amendments prevented the law from already being enacted, called it "a really important law for the city" and asserted, "We are in a time of unprecedented difficulties for people who do not own their homes."
DePietro cited two articles that appeared recently in the New York Times: one that reported significant rent increases nationwide; another reporting that the pace of evictions has accelerated. This article, which may not be one that DePietro was referencing, appeared in the NYT on November 8: "Evictions are mounting in the United States, but at a pace slower than many tenants and advocates feared." Alderman Ryan Wallace (Third Ward) commented that the pace of evictions in New York State has not been as rapid as in other states.
Steve Dunn used his two minutes to complain that the wrong version of the law had been posted on the website. He also declared, "To rent out a single-family home to anyone is insane under this law," and told the committee he had instructed his contractor to stop work on a house he was renovating with the intention of making it available as a rental.
Margaret Morris, First Ward alderman elect, predicted that Hudson would lose rental units as a consequence of the law, saying, "Landlords will no longer want to rent out properties in Hudson." She suggested that instead of pursuing a "cut-and-paste law from Albany," the Council should have conducted focus groups with landlords and tenants to find a solution to the problems.
Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) responded, "All of a sudden people are worrying about landlords. This law is for the protection of people who are living in this city. . . . Landlords are taking their money, and nobody is standing up for them." She adjured the Council to "stop forgetting about the people that brought you here."
Wolff argued that it was "an alarmist idea that landlords will not be able to evict tenants who are not paying their rent" and asserted, "This law is intended to make landlords into good landlords."
Rebecca Garrard of Citizen Action, which has been advocating for the passage of this law in Hudson and other cities, claimed that "transfer of ownership as good cause [for eviction] does not exist in the state law passed in 2019" and concluded, "Hudson is not stepping out in front or leading in a radical way." Her reference was undoubtedly to the "Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019." That law addressed co-op and condo conversions, but I don't recall it addressing transfer of ownership. In that, I could be wrong.
In the end, it was decided that the amended law would be forwarded to the full Council at its next meeting on Tuesday, November 18.
Update: The amended law, as it will be presented to the full Council of Tuesday, can now be viewed here.
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