I write to express my support for the Village of New Paltz’s Act to Amend Chapter 129 Housing Standards, a/k/a Good-Cause eviction. I am a former New Paltz tenant. I have rented apartments as an undergraduate student at SUNY New Paltz and later in life as a working professional. I have called New Paltz my home for the better part of a decade. In 2018, I left the Village to pursue an advanced degree. Now, as I attempt to make my way back, I am finding myself in the middle of a housing and affordability crisis. Recent mass migration into the Hudson Valley has had a major impact on the Village and surrounding communities. The cost of housing has risen tremendously. Today, it is not unusual to find advertisements for one-to-two-bedroom apartments in New Paltz that cost the same if not more than comparable housing units in New York City.
On August 11, I virtually attended the Village’s public hearing to make a comment in support of the Good-Cause eviction law. I believe that the law gives New Paltz residents the opportunity to slow the damaging impact of rapid gentrification. I also believe the law will promote healthy and safe housing. As the country continues to battle COVID-19, healthy housing should be everyone’s priority.
Due to the combative nature of the hearing, myself, as well as many others, were unable to adequately share our support. I was disheartened to hear falsities and misconceptions about the law paraded as fact. Those in opposition to the law incorrectly categorized the proposal as giving tenants an “automatic renewal lease.” This is not true. The law does provide tenants with the right to renew their leases, but such right is not automatic. The proposed law merely states that landlords who do not wish to provide their tenants with a renewal must appropriately inform their tenants of that decision in writing at least five months in advance. Tenants must consent to the landlord’s nonrenewal in writing.
Generally, leases between landlords and tenants are contracts where there is unequal bargaining power. Landlords often have more information, resources and legal expertise at their disposal. This right provides the tenant with more agency. It levels the playing field and gives tenants the power to decide whether to renew.
Many of those in opposition to the law communicated that their opinions had not been considered when the law was drafted, yet this was a public hearing specifically to hear these opinions. The Good-Cause eviction law is a proposal, and it has not yet been passed. It is false to state that this law has been ushered through in the dead of night.
For current New Paltz tenants, speaking out in favor of this proposed law is risky. Many fear that their support will result in retaliation from their landlords. Laws such as this will allow tenants to organize and speak freely. I urge all New Paltz residents to support Good-Cause eviction.