On Tuesday afternoon, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins tweeted that after meeting with fellow Democrats, she determined that “We have support for all nine priority housing bills.”
So, does that mean the package of rent reforms Albany is considering is a done deal?
The most controversial of the nine bills is the “good cause eviction” bill, which would prohibit eviction except in specific, limited circumstances. It also, in effect, would limit the rent increases a landlord could institute to no more than 1.5 times the rate of inflation.
Local builders and other experts say the bill could discourage attempts to build rental units on Long Island – particularly the more moderately priced apartments the region needs.
Shortly after Stewart-Cousins’ tweet, Sen. Jim Gaughran reached out to The Point to indicate that the support wasn’t quite as universal as Stewart-Cousins made it seem.
“I am opposed to the so-called good cause bill because I believe it would be very harmful to Long Island,” Gaughran said. “It will disincentivize all efforts that are being made right now to try to provide rental housing particularly for our young people.”
The Point then reached out to the five other Long Island senators in the majority. Not one of them supports the bill as written. All said that they hear from far more constituents about the need for affordable housing than they do about eviction for no reason, or bad reasons. And all said they thought the bill would damage the Island’s ability to build the apartments the region needs.
“I have very serious concerns about what the good cause bill in its current form would do to developing affordable housing on Long Island,” Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.
They also criticized the bill’s one-size-fits-all approach.
“Sometimes, on these bills, we need to realize that circumstances from one area to the next are dramatically different,” said Sen. John Brooks.
Sen. Kevin Thomas noted that he didn’t think all landlords should be treated with the same broad brush.
“There are some really bad landlords, but we shouldn’t punish all landlords in a blanket way for something that only these deadbeat landlords do,” said Thomas.
Added Sen. Monica Martinez: “The way the bill stands right now, it may hurt more tenants than it would help.”
Sources told The Point that Stewart-Cousins' tweets might be a negotiating strategy, as conversations are ongoing about what the final package of rent laws might look like. But there isn’t much time to turn negotiations into a final product. Existing rent regulations, which some of the bills change, extend or protect, are due to expire June 15.
But Long Island senators hope there’s time to make some changes -- particularly when it comes to the good cause bill.
“I have a lot of problems with the bill and concerns about how it affects Long Island,” Sen. Anna Kaplan told The Point. “I’m waiting for some clarification to see what the bill ends up being.”