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Groups push tenant bills 

A coalition of tenants groups and advocates from across New York continues its campaign for new laws to protect renters from displacement due to arbitrary evictions or sudden rent increases.

Representatives of the Upstate-Downstate Alliance travelled to Albany last week to show support for the laws, and they delivered letters to the offices of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. The Rochester City-Wide Tenant Union, which formed in response to deteriorating conditions at several low-income apartment complexes in the city, is a member of the Alliance.

click to enlarge Tenants at 967 Chili Avenue during a rally last year to protest the poor conditions of their building. - FILE PHOTO
  • Tenants at 967 Chili Avenue during a rally last year to protest the poor conditions of their building.

Specifically, the letter gives support to rent-control legislation that'll be introduced by Assembly member Kevin Cahill and Senator Neil Breslin. The bills would remove geographic restrictions on the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, allowing Rochester and other cities across New York the ability to adopt rent stabilization laws similar to New York City's.

The letter also supports a just-cause eviction proposal from Assemblymember Pamela Hunter and Senator Julia Salazar. The legislation would allow landlords to evict tenants for certain reasons, including failing to pay rent, being a nuisance, conducting illegal activity on the property, or violating the lease terms. But it would prohibit landlords from forcing out tenants without leases, or denying lease renewals, unless the renters committed one of the specified infractions.

The legislation would apply to apartment buildings and mobile home parks.

The advocates argue that too many landlords in gentrifying neighborhoods are pushing people out of once-affordable apartments so they can raise rents, that too many landlords are forcing tenants out of their apartments for complaining about disrepair, and that private equity companies are buying mobile-home communities and raising the price of lot leases.

"These are common sense solutions to a crisis that is costing our state dearly," the letter says. "We need your support of this legislation, and we need it this year. Waiting would cost too many people their homes, and that is unacceptable."

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