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OPINION: Good-Cause Evictions Will Make Existing Housing Crisis Worse

By Will Barclay


The New York State Legislature continues to wage war on landlords, property owners, and small businesses by insisting on including policies that erode property rights and rejecting common sense. The latest salvo comes in the form of a proposal to restrict property owners’ ability to remove tenants without “good cause.” The same proposal also includes a requirement for property owners to justify rent increases of more than 3 percent.

Essentially, Albany Democrats are proposing legislation to extend New York City’s strict and often burdensome rent regulations to the rest of the state. Under their plan, most building owners upstate would be forced to renew tenant leases, and it would add even more obstacles to combat harsh economic conditions like rampant inflation. New York already places enormous pressure on small businesses and property owners, so the last thing we need is another layer of red tape tamping down growth.

Proponents of the [good cause] bill have attempted to paint the proposal as a way to protect renters. This is a reasonable idea on its face, and landlords taking advantage of their tenants is something we should all be working to prevent. However, proponents often ignore the reality that renters in New York already enjoy some of the most tenant-friendly protections in the nation. One need look no further than the state’s backward squatting laws — individuals who set up shop in an unoccupied home or apartment for sale, for example, are given enormous protections after just 30 days — to see how difficult it is to be a property owner in New York. In addition, municipalities can already avail themselves of tenant protection — including rent regulations — upon showing a low vacancy rate for rental properties.

Shoehorning so-called “good cause eviction” into the state budget will also have ramifications extending far beyond making life harder for property owners. With each new regulation forced upon landlords and owners, many of whom fall squarely in the middle class, more and more landlords are going to give up. This will lead to even further outmigration, a reluctance to build new apartments and ultimately exacerbate the housing crisis plaguing New Yorkers. This isn’t a solution, it’s a catalyst for more problems.

I sincerely hope any version of this legislation considers the massive challenges facing property owners in New York. Policymaking should never be a zero-sum game. We don’t have to cut down one group in order to serve another, and it seems a lot like that is what the Democrat leadership in New York wants to do.       

William (Will) A. Barclay, 55, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses all of Oswego County, as well as parts of Jefferson and Cayuga counties.

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