Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Fate of "Good Cause" Eviction in Albany

WAMC reported this afternoon that the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of the City of Albany's "good cause" eviction law: "City of Albany's 'good cause' eviction measure is rejected as advocates look to legislature."

This is of interest of us in Hudson because in 2021, inspired by Albany's law, housing advocates on Hudson's Common Council, principally former councilmembers Rebecca Wolff and Tiffany Garriga, proposed a similar law for Hudson. The Common Council voted to enact the law in September 2021, but the day before Mayor Kamal Johnson was to sign the legislation into law, Wolff announced at a Legal Committee meeting that she wanted to amend the law to eliminate transfer of ownership as a "good cause" for evicting tenants. It was determined that the best way to do this was to have the mayor veto the law and send it back to the Council. The law was amended and once again placed on the councilmembers' desks in November 2021, but, in a classic example of the perfect being the enemy of the good, when it came up for a vote in December 2021, it was defeated.


  1. There is nothing “good” about the good cause law. Facially, it seems like a pro-tenant way to impose a stripping of property owners’ rights. And it is. But deep down it’s simply a way to push small landlords out of the industry in favor of those larger, well-financed friends of the working man and woman … private equity funds. Good cause will result in higher rents, fewer apartments and corporate landlords who remove rent funds from local markets and redistribute it to their PE investors. It’s bad policy from a property rights perspective, tentants’ rights perspective and economically.

  2. As a renter who has seen exorbitant changes to the housing market and their deleterious effect not just to me but my friends and neighbors in the community, I want to take you to task for what reads as a myopically libertarian take on a real issue affecting the community. There has been a market failure here, and when there is a market failure, smart government regulations should right the ship.

    But you are correct. The Good Cause Eviction law, as presented, is punitive to small landlords at a time when we should be focused on developing small multi-family housing, and creates a market that favors large out-of-town investors. It does not create enough carve-outs to help landlords get rid of problem tenants (I can’t even imagine the legal bills) and the flat 5% annual rate increase does not factor in the cost of labor and materials needed for property maintenance, an especially glaring issue given the aging housing stock upstate and limited labor supply; a more complex formula might solve some of these problems, but it doesn’t sell as well politically, so it seems like a non-starter.

    There is some version of this bill, no doubt, I could support as an effective tool to combat the negative effects of gentrification, and as I have said loudly and often, residential property ownership is a different kind of investment. There are other tools, like inducement packages to attract employers, training programs to help residents build their professional skillsets, condominium construction, and better regional economic and transportation partnerships to help broaden the geographic boundaries of the community. Neither Tom nor Kamal are up to the task of tackling these issues, as they have demonstrated clearly and repeatedly.