Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is Good Cause Eviction a state-level bill or local ordinance?
A: Both! While there is a state-level Good Cause Eviction bill in New York state legislature that was introduced by Julia Salazar (Brooklyn – 18th District) in the State Senate and Pamela Hunter (Syracuse – District 128) in Assembly, this website is dedicated to explaining the local Good Cause Eviction ordinance in Syracuse that will soon be introduced to the Common Council.

Q: How does the Syracuse Good Cause Eviction ordinance differ from the New York State Good Cause Eviction bill?
A: Great question! The Syracuse ordinance includes a few more protections for tenants. Here are some examples of situations where a landlord could not evict, according to the Syracuse ordinance:

  • Cannot evict without presenting the Rental Registry Certificate or Certificate of Compliance in court
  • Cannot evict due to failure to pay rent due and owing no less than two months
  • Cannot evict based on nonpayment of a rent increase of more than 5%
  • Cannot evict if there are any open code violations
  • Cannot evict if there is a history of intimidation

Q: Does Good Cause Eviction legislation exist anywhere else?
A: Yes. There is a similar “just cause” eviction law in New Jersey, which was passed in 1974. Additionally, Kingston, Poughkeepsie and Newburgh all passed Good Cause Eviction into law in the last year. And many other municipalities — including Rochester, Ithaca, and Beacon — are currently pushing to pass Good Cause Eviction locally.

Q: Does Good Cause Eviction hurt mom-and-pop landlords?
A: No. Good Cause Eviction doesn’t attack small landlords. This ordinance is designed to take on the corporate landlords that are buying up homes in our communities, neglecting their properties, and unjustly evicting tenants at the highest rates. Good landlords already abide by what is in Good Cause Eviction legislation. It rewards good actors and discourages bad ones from participating.

Q: Does Good Cause Eviction reduce the supply of housing?
A: No. Landlords have the ability to set “first rents” for apartments at market rates, and can therefore set them at a level that covers their construction costs and debt levels. The state of New Jersey has had Good Cause protections for nearly 50 years and yet apartment construction has boomed in many parts of the state. In fact, passing measures like Good Cause can increase the demand for rental housing in an area, since would-be renters gain confidence in renting as a stable form of housing.

Q: Does Good Cause reduce landlords’ incentive to make repairs? 
A: Multiple studies of Good Cause Eviction regulations have found that they actually improve living conditions. Good Cause gives tenants the right to organize for safer conditions in their homes. By ensuring that tenants can utilize code enforcement mechanisms without the fear of retaliation, it improves the efficiency and effectiveness of cash-strapped local code enforcement bureaus by enabling them to work proactively. Furthermore, the Syracuse ordinance includes a provision to ensure Code Enforcement has access to properties to carry out regular inspections.

Q: Does Good Cause Eviction prevent landlords from raising the rent, especially to cover costs? 
A: No. Good Cause Eviction allows the landlord to raise the rent to whatever level they would like. If the tenant is unable to pay the increase and falls behind on rent they can raise “Good Cause” as a defense in an eviction case. The landlord would then have to justify any rent increase over 5%.

Q: What are “Good Causes” for eviction under this ordinance? 
– Nonpayment of rent (owing no less than 2 months)
– Significant violation of the terms of the tenancy
– Nuisance such that interferes with other tenants’ comfort
– Significant health and safety violations cause the tenant to vacate the unit; a vacate order exists on the property 
– Violation of the law/the tenant is using the accommodation for an illegal purpose 
– Personal use for family members (in buildings with < 12 units)
– Personal use for self – but only in a building with less than 5 units