There are many complicated elements to a potential housing deal in Albany, but the two primary requirements, according to various stakeholders, include a tax break for developers to build more affordable housing, and tenant protections.

Tenant advocates in Albany are backing a bill dubbed “Good Cause Eviction” by advocates. It was introduced by state Sen. Julia Salazar and Assemblymember Pam Hunter (S. 305 Salazar/A. 4454 Hunter).

Currently, most landlords can choose not to renew a lease for any reason. They can also choose to raise rents as high as the market will bear. But under so-called “Good Cause Eviction,” landlords many only evict a tenant if that tenant violates the lease. One example? Failure to pay rent.

The bill also allows landlords to raise rents, but not unreasonably. The bill caps rent hikes at 3% or 1.5% of the Consumer Price Index. 

Many downstate Democrats in the Legislature represent renters, and they are adamant that this bill be included in any housing deal. 

But there is vocal opposition to the bill from both real estate and landlord groups. 

“Primarily, we just don’t think [this bill] solves the problem that the tenants claim they are trying to fix,” Lisa Damiani, executive director of the Western New York Property Owners Association, told Capital Tonight. “Most of our property owners, they’re in the business of keeping people in their properties and that’s what they want to do.”

Those looking to protect tenants are increasingly concerned about landlords not renewing the leases of tenants in reasonably affordable apartments, remodeling them, and then putting them back on the market at much higher rents.

According to Damiani, apartment buildings are private property and if landlords have the means to invest in their own properties, they should be able to, especially if it means charging rents that match the costs of maintaining those properties.

“There’s a lot that goes into what rent costs. You’ve got taxes, you’ve got mortgages, you’ve got maybe it’s a garbage fee, utilities, water, sewer, all these things that go into that,” Damiani said. “It’s not a simple straight-forward calculation, if you will.”

Damiani said that these costs wouldn’t necessarily be captured by the rent increase calculations in the bill.

When asked if she saw a way of compromising elements of the "Good Cause Eviction" bill, Damiani said no, but pointed to another bill that would benefit tenants, the Housing Access Voucher Program, saying that her organization supports it.

Cea Weaver, a tenant organizer at Housing Justice for All, sent the following statement to Capital Tonight. 

“If you’re an ‘unregulated’ renter, your landlord can raise your rent as much as they want for any reason at all. Tenants also have no protections from ‘no-cause’ evictions, which means a landlord can remove you from your home without giving a reason,” Weaver wrote in an email. “This is often used to retaliate against tenants who speak up about poor conditions or clear out low-income tenants so the landlord can rent out to wealthier – and often whiter – tenants.”