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Understanding New York’s Good Cause Eviction Law

Jun 17, 2024
Practice Area:  Real Estate

On April 20, 2024, the New York State Legislature passed the Good Cause Eviction Law, amending Article-6A in New York’s Real Property Law to add the newly named “Good Cause Eviction Law.” This amendment protects tenants from unreasonable rent hikes and retaliatory or discriminatory evictions. Tenants across New York now have additional protections against unreasonable landlords. The Good Cause Eviction Law gives tenants the power to negotiate with their landlords when they believe there is no rational basis for their eviction or for not being given the option to renew.

What Is The Good Cause Eviction Law?

The Good Cause Eviction Law is an overhaul of the relationship between NYC renters and their landlords. The intent of the law is to provide greater stability for tenants in the residential real estate market. First, it gives market-rate renters a legal way to challenge an “unreasonable” rent increase; second, it requires a landlord to let a tenant renew their lease unless the landlord has “good cause” to say otherwise; and third, a landlord cannot evict a tenant unless they have a “good cause” for doing so.

An “unreasonable” rent increase is defined as the lower of (a) 10% above the tenant’s current rent, or (b) 5% plus the consumer price index (CPI). For example, at the time the law was passed in April, the CPI was at 3.82 percent, so any rent increase above 8.82% would be considered unreasonable.

Previously, landlords could choose to not renew a lease for any reason or for no reason at all. Now, the law requires that a landlord must have “good cause” to do so. “Good cause” is defined as the failure of the tenant to pay rent (assuming the rent hike is not unreasonable), a violation of the lease by the tenant, if the tenant breaks the law, if a tenant creates a nuisance, if there is substantial damage to the building, or if the landlord wants to demolish the building or if the landlord wants to live in the unit.

How The Good Cause Eviction Law Works

In practice, the Good Cause Eviction Law requires landlords to take additional steps in order to be in compliance with the law. To remove a tenant, which includes the non-renewal of a lease, landlords need to obtain a court order after a showing of good cause. Tenants cannot waive their right to be protected under the Good Cause Eviction Law. Any contract to do so will be considered void as a matter of public policy.

The courts will be the final deciders of an “unreasonable” rent increase. Tenants must show that rent was raised in violation of the law, then the landlord can show whether they had the right to do so. The law instructs the court to consider a number of factors to see if the landlord’s increase was justified. The courts are instructed to review the costs of fuel, utilities, insurance, maintenance, property tax, and if there were any significant repairs done that could justify such an increase. If the rent increase is determined to be unreasonable, a tenant’s failure to pay the increase does not constitute good cause for removal.

Who Is Covered Under The Good Cause Eviction Law?

Tenants who live in a property owned by a landlord with more than 10 units in the state of New York are covered by the Good Cause Eviction Law, if the building’s certificate of occupancy (“CO”) was issued before January 1, 2009. The Good Cause Eviction Law applies to all NYC residents as of August 18, 2024, and other towns can opt to choose-in to the law at any time.

Exemptions Available

Although it may seem that there are many people protected by the Good Cause Eviction Law, the law comes with some exceptions:

  • Tenants in rental units of condominium or cooperative buildings
  • Rent stabilized apartments (under local, state, or federal law)
  • Units built after 2009
  • Tenants that pay more than 245% of the fair market rent
  • Small landlords (owns no more than 10 units in the state)
  • Tenants that live in an owner-occupied building containing 10 units or less
  • Any building subject to an offering plan submitted to the Attorney General
  • Buildings with COs that are issued after 1/1/2009 for a period of 30 years following the issuance of the certification are exempt for 30 years.
  • Anyone currently in housing court disputes
  • Occupancies that are incident to employment, seasonable units, units within hospitals, manufactured homes, hotels, dorms, or units within religious facilities.

What The Good Cause Eviction Law Means for Landlords in New York City

Good Cause requires landlords to notify tenants regardless of whether the unit is subject to the law or exempted from it. All initial leases, lease renewals, and any other notice and petitions for all apartments in NYC must include a Good Cause Eviction Law Notice. The required form is provided in section 231-c of the law. If the unit is exempted, the landlord must identify the applicable exemption and give it to the tenant.

Landlords must send to all tenants with any pending notice of renewal or initial leases that have not yet been executed or have not yet commenced the 231-c form to fulfill the notice requirement.

Like any new law affecting real property, it is best to consult with an experienced real estate attorney to protect your rights.

 

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