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OPINION: Small Landlords Deserve To Be Heard

By Pamela Helming

Date:

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed two new laws increasing protections for tenants in New York state. There continues to be a lot of talk in Albany about protecting tenants. Certainly, no one wants to see tenants who are genuinely struggling lose their homes. 

But there is little talk in Albany about protecting small mom-and-pop property owners who have been hit hard by the state’s misguided eviction moratorium and delayed rental-assistance programs. 

Housing is a two-way street. We also need to support small-business landlords if we want to preserve quality, locally owned housing in our communities and ensure residents have safe and reliable places to live. This is as true for upstate New York as it is for downstate New York. 

No one wants to see locally owned properties forced to be sold to out-of-state investment firms. Or brownstones and walk-ups torn down and rebuilt as standard issue government housing. Imagine what New York City would look like. Imagine what our small-town main streets would look like. 

Local landlords provide much of the rental properties and affordable homes in our communities. Many have gone months without being paid by tenants; some for over a year. Yet they still must pay for their own obligations, such as property taxes, mortgage payments, and maintenance costs. 

Small property owners pay taxes that help fund municipal budgets and the essential services residents rely on. Furthermore, they invest their money locally, hire local tradespeople and service providers, and contribute significantly to the economic vitality of our communities. 

Many small landlords I’ve spoken with have described the state’s eviction moratorium as a monster, devouring their life savings and diminishing the equity they’ve worked hard to build. 

Deb Hall is a small property owner and administrator of the Finger Lakes Landlords Association. She has been a staunch advocate for the region’s landlords. Deb said, “Small landlords, who are private, non-corporate property owners, have borne the financial weight associated with eviction moratoriums and the lag in rental assistance funding. The rental housing industry is suffering from a multitude of factors related to pandemic and pre-pandemic legislation, especially for low to medium income tenants and landlords.” 

Small landlords are simply asking to be treated fairly and they deserve to be heard by New York’s elected leaders. 

From Buffalo to the Bronx, we need our small property owners to help meet the long-term housing needs of people in our communities. Property owners are not the bad guys, and neither are tenants. We need both to have thriving neighborhoods and communities.        

Pamela Helming, Republican, is a New York State Senator representing the 54th State Senate District, which encompasses all of Seneca and Wayne counties, as well as parts of Cayuga, Tompkins, Monroe, and Ontario counties. She is the ranking minority member of the Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee. Contact Helming at helming@nysenate.gov.