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The year-long national eviction moratorium designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 put a spotlight on a housing issue that has plagued renters and landlords alike. Under what circumstances can a landlord evict a tenant?

Now that the ban has ended, the issue of Good Cause Eviction (also called Just Cause Eviction) continues to be a hot topic throughout the U.S. In New York, for example, grassroots campaigns are calling for a Good Cause Ordinance to protect tenants from arbitrary, retaliatory, and discriminatory evictions.

This article will define Good Cause Eviction, what a Good Cause Ordinance would do, and the potential positive and negative effects such an ordinance would have on the housing market. It also will address some frequently asked questions about Good Cause Eviction.

What is Good Cause Eviction?

As its name suggests, a Good Cause Eviction Law seeks to limit evictions to only those with just reasons stated under the law. Each state has its own eviction procedures for how lease termination notices and eviction papers must be written and served. Landlords must follow their state’s rules and procedures when evicting a tenant.

Typically, these reasons include:

  • non-payment of rent
  • lease violation that remains uncorrected after the owner gives notice
  • criminal activity occurring on the property
  • substantial damage to the property
  • actions that interfere with the safety or enjoyment of other residents
  • the owner seeks to remove the property from the rental market

Without this legislation, landlords in many cities and states can evict their tenants for no reason. In communities where vacancies are low, and demand is high, landlords may seek to evict tenants to renovate their units and attract wealthier renters. This practice can deepen an already painful housing crisis for residents.

These practices can cause instability for many residents. Good cause ordinances would also protect tenants from eviction after requesting repairs or reporting inadequate housing conditions.

Good Cause Eviction: A Landlord's Worst Nightmare

Like all controversial issues, Good Cause Eviction legislation has two sides. Many landlords fear that a Good Cause Ordinance could take away their rights as property owners.

In many cases, a landlord will have to "show cause" and obtain a court order to terminate a rental or lease agreement. In cases of criminal activity on the property, some opponents fear it could pit neighbor against neighbor as courts will rely on resident testimony.

In a New York Times video report, video journalist Jeff Seal calls the Good Cause Eviction "a landlord's worst nightmare." In the video, he interviews some New Yorkers who fear eviction if they report needed repairs or problems with their lease. He also explains that the bill would tie rent increase to inflation, preventing landlords from invoking steep hikes in residential lease agreements.

Good cause eviction in the state of New York

Individual cities in the state of New York are considering Good Cause Eviction legislation. On March 15, the Rochester City Council voted it down with a contentious debate followed by a 6-3 vote. At that time, Rochester was the largest New York municipality to consider Good Cause Eviction.

According to a report in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, eviction filings, which were increasing in the city before the pandemic, have flooded the court since the state-wide eviction moratorium expired in January.

Other cities in the state of New York, including Albany, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and Hudson, passed their own versions of Good Cause Eviction. California and a few other states also passed Good Cause Eviction legislation. However, these laws tend to have higher limits on rent increases than those proposed in New York.

New York City has also been a hotspot for debate on no-cause residential eviction notices and Good Cause Eviction. At the same time, real estate industry members warn that the passage of a state bill would result in higher rents and higher property taxes.

Pros and Cons of Good Cause Eviction

As we have seen, there are two positions on Good Cause Eviction. More research and data are needed on both sides, but here is a summary of the pros and cons of this form of tenant protection.

Pros of Good Cause Eviction Cons of Good Cause Eviction
-Predictable rent for tenants, allowing them to stay in place

-More stable communities

-More stable job market within communities

-Less discriminatory practices

-Fewer rental buildings would be built

-Fewer rental buildings would be renovated

-Less tax revenue and jobs within communities

-Higher property taxes

Conclusion

This is a complex issue with debates being had in several different cities and states. If you are a landlord or a renter in a city with Good Cause Eviction in place, make sure you know your rights around the eviction process.

Good Cause Eviction FAQs

  • If a city or state does not have Good Cause Eviction laws, can a landlord evict a tenant for any reason?

    In many locations, landlords do not have to provide a reason to evict a tenant who does not have a lease or is at the end of their lease agreement.

    The primary reasons for ending a lease before its termination are non-payment of rent or other rental agreement violations. However, without legislation in place, some unscrupulous landlords can evict tenants for the sole purpose of attracting higher-paying renters.

  • Under Good Cause Eviction, what is considered a "reasonable" rent increase?

    Cities and states vary in how they view a "reasonable" and "unreasonable" rent increase, but most municipalities agree that rent jumps should coincide with the inflation rate.

    New York's S3082 states that an increase above 3 percent or 150 percent of the Consumer Price Index —whichever is greater— is considered unreasonable. However, the bill does not state that an increase below those amounts is presumed to be reasonable. Therefore, tenants would be free to challenge a rent increase they consider unfair.

  • Is there data to show that evictions are often discriminatory in nature?

    Recent research does show that eviction often falls along racial lines. A 2020 study by the Aspen Institute revealed that people of color comprise about 80 percent of people facing eviction. The study also showed that non-white tenants are more than twice as likely to be evicted than White tenants.

    A University of Washington study found that eviction rates among Black and Latinx adults in some cities are nearly seven times higher than for Whites. And Boston Housing Court records show that 78 percent of eviction cases in that city that were suspended due to COVID-19 occurred in communities of color.

The year-long national eviction moratorium designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 put a spotlight on a housing issue that has plagued renters and landlords alike. Under what circumstances can a landlord evict a tenant?

Now that the ban has ended, the issue of Good Cause Eviction (also called Just Cause Eviction) continues to be a hot topic throughout the U.S. In New York, for example, grassroots campaigns are calling for a Good Cause Ordinance to protect tenants from arbitrary, retaliatory, and discriminatory evictions.

This article will define Good Cause Eviction, what a Good Cause Ordinance would do, and the potential positive and negative effects such an ordinance would have on the housing market. It also will address some frequently asked questions about Good Cause Eviction.

What is Good Cause Eviction?

As its name suggests, a Good Cause Eviction Law seeks to limit evictions to only those with just reasons stated under the law. Each state has its own eviction procedures for how lease termination notices and eviction papers must be written and served. Landlords must follow their state’s rules and procedures when evicting a tenant.

Typically, these reasons include:

  • non-payment of rent
  • lease violation that remains uncorrected after the owner gives notice
  • criminal activity occurring on the property
  • substantial damage to the property
  • actions that interfere with the safety or enjoyment of other residents
  • the owner seeks to remove the property from the rental market

Without this legislation, landlords in many cities and states can evict their tenants for no reason. In communities where vacancies are low, and demand is high, landlords may seek to evict tenants to renovate their units and attract wealthier renters. This practice can deepen an already painful housing crisis for residents.

These practices can cause instability for many residents. Good cause ordinances would also protect tenants from eviction after requesting repairs or reporting inadequate housing conditions.

Good Cause Eviction: A Landlord's Worst Nightmare

Like all controversial issues, Good Cause Eviction legislation has two sides. Many landlords fear that a Good Cause Ordinance could take away their rights as property owners.

In many cases, a landlord will have to "show cause" and obtain a court order to terminate a rental or lease agreement. In cases of criminal activity on the property, some opponents fear it could pit neighbor against neighbor as courts will rely on resident testimony.

In a New York Times video report, video journalist Jeff Seal calls the Good Cause Eviction "a landlord's worst nightmare." In the video, he interviews some New Yorkers who fear eviction if they report needed repairs or problems with their lease. He also explains that the bill would tie rent increase to inflation, preventing landlords from invoking steep hikes in residential lease agreements.

Good cause eviction in the state of New York

Individual cities in the state of New York are considering Good Cause Eviction legislation. On March 15, the Rochester City Council voted it down with a contentious debate followed by a 6-3 vote. At that time, Rochester was the largest New York municipality to consider Good Cause Eviction.

According to a report in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, eviction filings, which were increasing in the city before the pandemic, have flooded the court since the state-wide eviction moratorium expired in January.

Other cities in the state of New York, including Albany, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and Hudson, passed their own versions of Good Cause Eviction. California and a few other states also passed Good Cause Eviction legislation. However, these laws tend to have higher limits on rent increases than those proposed in New York.

New York City has also been a hotspot for debate on no-cause residential eviction notices and Good Cause Eviction. At the same time, real estate industry members warn that the passage of a state bill would result in higher rents and higher property taxes.

Pros and Cons of Good Cause Eviction

As we have seen, there are two positions on Good Cause Eviction. More research and data are needed on both sides, but here is a summary of the pros and cons of this form of tenant protection.

Pros of Good Cause Eviction Cons of Good Cause Eviction
-Predictable rent for tenants, allowing them to stay in place

-More stable communities

-More stable job market within communities

-Less discriminatory practices

-Fewer rental buildings would be built

-Fewer rental buildings would be renovated

-Less tax revenue and jobs within communities

-Higher property taxes

Conclusion

This is a complex issue with debates being had in several different cities and states. If you are a landlord or a renter in a city with Good Cause Eviction in place, make sure you know your rights around the eviction process.

Good Cause Eviction FAQs

  • If a city or state does not have Good Cause Eviction laws, can a landlord evict a tenant for any reason?

    In many locations, landlords do not have to provide a reason to evict a tenant who does not have a lease or is at the end of their lease agreement.

    The primary reasons for ending a lease before its termination are non-payment of rent or other rental agreement violations. However, without legislation in place, some unscrupulous landlords can evict tenants for the sole purpose of attracting higher-paying renters.

  • Under Good Cause Eviction, what is considered a "reasonable" rent increase?

    Cities and states vary in how they view a "reasonable" and "unreasonable" rent increase, but most municipalities agree that rent jumps should coincide with the inflation rate.

    New York's S3082 states that an increase above 3 percent or 150 percent of the Consumer Price Index —whichever is greater— is considered unreasonable. However, the bill does not state that an increase below those amounts is presumed to be reasonable. Therefore, tenants would be free to challenge a rent increase they consider unfair.

  • Is there data to show that evictions are often discriminatory in nature?

    Recent research does show that eviction often falls along racial lines. A 2020 study by the Aspen Institute revealed that people of color comprise about 80 percent of people facing eviction. The study also showed that non-white tenants are more than twice as likely to be evicted than White tenants.

    A University of Washington study found that eviction rates among Black and Latinx adults in some cities are nearly seven times higher than for Whites. And Boston Housing Court records show that 78 percent of eviction cases in that city that were suspended due to COVID-19 occurred in communities of color.