‘Good Cause’ to undergo changes

The Common Council passed “good cause” legislation in September. Contributed photo

HUDSON — Mayor Kamal Johnson vetoed the monumental “good cause” eviction law Thursday to allow the Common Council time to add amendments before he signs it.

The Common Council’s Legal Committee on Wednesday proposed some possible amendments to add before the legislation is codified.

“I was asked by the Legal Committee and also our city attorneys to veto this current law and it will be going back to the council to be worked on further,” Johnson said Thursday at a public hearing. “It seemed that the consensus was that it was not yet ready.”

Council members voted 8-0 in favor of the law with one abstention from 3rd Ward Alderman Shershah Mizan and two absent before Johnson vetoed it.

First Ward Alderwoman Rebecca Wolff on Wednesday presented two changes to the law as passed by the council Sept. 21: Removing language that allows the court to investigate a tenant’s ability to pay increased rent as a factor of market rate changes and that a landlord can use the sale of a building as a reason to evict tenants.

The law requires landlords to justify rent increases in certain cases. Introduced to the council Aug. 17, it sets 10 conditions that must be presented before a judge to issue an eviction notice, requires judges to consider a tenant’s ability to pay when deliberating an eviction over failure to pay rent and protects against eviction due to “unreasonable and repeated” rent increases by requiring annual increases greater than 5% to have detailed justification.

Rebecca Garrard, legislative director at Citizen Action of New York who has been working on the law with council members, said the course of action both the mayor and the Common Council are taking making for the most efficient passage of the legislation.

“I think the council and the mayor are moving in a way that really reflects their prioritization of passing legislation that will ensure the greatest protections for the residents of Hudson, who are at significant risk of displacement and homelessness,” she said.

One of the proposed amendments to the law, the deletion of the eviction-due-to-sale clause, sparked some hesitancy among Legal Committee members and city attorney Jeff Baker.

“I really think we have to be really careful to make sure that we’re not really going too far down a road that we can’t do, which is if it’s a private contractual sale,” 4th Ward Alderman John Rosenthal said.

But Garrard said removing that provision of the local law is in line with the statewide bill passed in 2019 — the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act — indicating it is a legally defensible change.

“There should be no cause for concern,” Garrard said.

Residents at the mayor’s public hearing expressed concern over opportunities for public comment on the law. Johnson said ongoing work on the law will continue in public meetings and the public will have opportunities to express views.

Hudson resident Margaret Morris said she is not sure if there has been sufficient conversation with landlords and tenants and suggested conducting focus groups.

“I think we need to take a step back,” Morris said.

Kristal Heinz, a 5th Ward Hudson resident and owner of investment properties in the area, said she thinks the law will making renting in Hudson more difficult than it is now.

“I think this legislation has been rushed, the consequences have not been thought through,” Heinz said.

Garrard said Hudson’s actions are on par with other areas that have passed such legislation.

“They’re making procedural decisions to ensure that this gets passed in a legal way, but the most expeditious way,” she said.

Similar legislation was passed by the Albany Common Council in July. It served as the model for Hudson’s proposal.

The Common Council will hold its next informal meeting Oct. 12.

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(1) comment

scottmyers

A bill like this is needed in Catskill yesterday!

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