Legal Aid calls for passage of Good Cause as Crown Heights man faces eviction from home of 15 years

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George Becker via Pexel

A Crown Heights man facing eviction from his home of 15 years has no legal protection as a tenant in an unregulated building, and his lawyers with the Legal Aid Society said his was the latest example of the need for Good Cause legislation to bolster renter protections.

Darrel Stone is being evicted from his Crown Heights apartment after his landlord filed a notice in October claiming the lease had not been renewed, and that Stone owed him money — claims which Stone disputes.

Speaking to Patch, Stone said he was never behind on rent payments, and paid out of pocket for regular maintenance of the apartment.

Legal Aid described Stone as a “model tenant who has always paid his rent on time, respecting his neighbors and the building,” but that his eviction is legally permissible because he lives in an unregulated building — rather than a rent-stabilized or rent controlled unit. 

Patrick Langhenry, staff attorney in the Brooklyn Housing Office at The Legal Aid Society, said that if “Good Cause” were passed in the state legislature, tenants like Stone would have basic protections against unwarranted evictions.

“Mr. Stone’s case is tragic, but it isn’t unique. We hear similar horror stories daily from tenants in unregulated apartments who face eviction or exorbitant rent increases, deprived of any legal protections to help them remain in their homes,” said Langhenry.

“To combat this crisis head on, Albany must immediately codify ‘Good Cause’ eviction legislation. State lawmakers can no longer shirk their responsibility to advance this critical measure,” he said. 

The proposed statewide Good Cause legislation would mandate that landlords offer their market-rate tenants a new lease at the end of each term, and prevent them from evicting tenants without a “good cause,” such as nonpayment of rent or causing damage to the apartment.

The bill also caps annual rent increases at 3% or 1.5% of the current inflation rate, whichever is higher.

Municipalities who pass local protections risk having them tossed out by the courts until state law is updated. 

In 2021, local Good Cause laws passed in both Albany and Newburgh, but groups of landlords swiftly filed lawsuits against both cities, and the laws were tossed when judges ruled they violated existing state housing law. 

New York Assembly Member Latrice Walker, who supports the legislation, said the passage of ‘Good Cause’ is especially important following the expiration last year of the statewide eviction moratorium.

According to Legal Aid’s analysis of city data, executed evictions in New York City increased almost every month since the eviction moratorium lapsed — displacing an estimated 4,400 households.

For more coverage of the Good Cause legislation proposed in Albany, head to BrooklynPaper.com.