Renters in Newburgh are rejoicing. Some landlords are fuming. The city is moving forward with a controversial measure dubbed good cause eviction. After two hours of testimony from tenants and landlords, the Newburgh City Council voted 6-0 late Monday night to adopt the legislation.
Mayor Torrance Harvey said earlier in the day that after hearing from local landlords, he would ask the rest of the council to consider waiting, perhaps three to six months, before deciding on the measure.
But five members forced the mayor’s hand, motioning for a vote.
What You Need To Know
- Newburgh is the second Hudson Valley municipality, after the city of Hudson, to adopt "good cause eviction" legislation
- The mayor voted yes with five other council members; one abstained
- The law takes effect January 1, 2022
Ahead of the vote, Harvey asked City Attorney Michelle Kelson for advice. She could not make any guarantees, but she said, sometimes you have to push the envelope to find out if a piece of legislation will withstand legal scrutiny.
Harvey voted “yes,” along with the five council members. Councilman Bob Sklarz abstained.
Under the law, a landlord will only be able to evict a tenant for certain reasons. These include nonpayment of rent, crimes committed by tenants and if the landlord needs to clear the property for their own personal use.
Newburgh renter Jason Roberts is glad the City Council passed the eviction law. He said landlords are going to have to adjust to the new restrictions. He said he thought they will help keep people in Newburgh.
“They shouldn’t displace people," Roberts said. "It’s something that should be considered and taken seriously in that they should understand, that people are in hard and trying times.”
At Monday's council meeting, some landlords said they disapproved because the law seeks to cap rent increases at around 5% a year. Some of the property owners told the council that hurts them because their taxes are increasing way more than 5% a year.
“So what do I do as an owner?" asked Don Schmitt, a Newburgh landlord. "Obviously, just like a business, we have to pass those taxes on to consumers.”
Other landlords said the law would force their disputes into local courts, prolonging the removal process and disrupting business. They also objected to a part of the law that gives tenants priority for lease renewals, calling it a “tenant for life” policy.
Councils in Beacon, New Paltz and Kingston and the Ulster County Legislature are considering similar legislation.
Beacon’s process froze once the city attorney issued an opinion stating that such a law would be preempted by state law. The council is awaiting an opinion from state Attorney General Letitia James before proceeding.
In New Paltz, village trustees are holding off on a vote to allow time to make sure the legislation would hold up against legal challenges.
Newburgh is the second Hudson Valley municipality, after the city of Hudson, to adopt good cause eviction legislation.
Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde did not seem fazed by other councils that decided to pull back.
“Let’s vote on this tonight," she said. "I’m ready to vote on this. All of the landlords coming out tonight are afraid because you don’t understand and you don’t want change. Change is good.”
The law takes effect January 1, 2022.