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State bill to protect tenants from unjust evictions makes progress in Buffalo

eviction notice
Posted at 6:48 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 23:26:07-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Common Council recently voted 5-4 in favor of a resolution to support a state bill for Good Cause Eviction.

"Essentially 'Good Cause' is a basic tenant protection against unjust evictions," said Tanvier Peart, Director of Policy Advancement for Partnership for Public Good (PPG).

"Many tenants in Buffalo don't have leases. They rent month-to-month and can effectively be evicted for no reason at all," said Teresa Watson, Housing Justice Organizer at PUSH Buffalo, citing the spike in rent seen since the start of the pandemic.

Peart said some tenants have feared approaching their landlords for any issues, thinking it might be used against them.

"Tenants would essentially have a shield against retaliation evictions that empower them to hold landlords accountable," said Peart.

Good Cause would protect tenants from eviction after large rent increases. The bill prevents landlords from evicting tenants based on non-payment of rent if the landlord has increased the rent more than 3% of the rent or 150% of annual inflation, whichever is larger.

Landlords have expressed concern that it gives too much control to tenants, however the bill still allows some flexibility to adjust the price of rent. Also if any unjust action is done by the tenant then the landlord still has good cause to evict. That includes, no rent, violation of property, and if tenant is a nuisance.

There's also a push to pass the Buffalo Tenant Bill of Rights, which mentions the Good Cause Eviction. It would look to keep people off of the streets, even if they can't afford their rent.

According to a PPG report published in 2020 half of Buffalo renter households couldn't afford housing. Of the evicted tenants that the organization surveyed in Buffalo's Housing Court, 72% were women, and 67% were black.

The Buffalo Tenant Bill of Rights states it would protect communities that are most impacted by evictions such as, "low-income people, people of color, the elderly, LGBTQ individuals, and those living with disabilities."

New York State would not be the first place to enact Good Cause legislation. New Hampshire, New Jersey, California, Philadelphia, Washington DC and others have similar legislation.