Orange County Supreme Court Justice Sandra Sciortino ruled the City of Newburgh’s ‘Good Cause Eviction’ Law as null and void on Wednesday, November 29. Local housing advocacy groups For The Many and Community Voices Heard called on Albany to pass statewide Good Cause Eviction legislation.
The Good Cause Eviction law is a law that protects tenants in the city from eviction without a good cause or reason from their landlord while also protecting the tenant from rent increases. However, failures to pay rent, property damage and violation of agreements can lead to eviction.
Back in October, an appeal was made on the law which argued that the law preempted New York State tenant protection laws already in place and thus argued the passage in 2021 was null and void. The local law was the subject of a public hearing on October 25, 2021 at the Recreation Center on Washington St. where it passed with a six member favor vote with one abstention following two hours of public comments. The Good Cause Eviction Law had been active and in place in the City of Newburgh for over a year until the ruling decision.
Previous reports listed the Troy based law firm E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy LLP had filed a lawsuit on behalf of HYH Newburgh, LLC, M&N Newburgh Development LLC, 160 Grand Owners LLC, and landlord Michael Acevedo on February 28, 2022. The lawsuit was against the City of Newburgh, Mayor Torrance Harvey, the Newburgh City Council and the Newburgh City Court. Benjamin Neidl served as their legal counsel during the case.
E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy LLP was contacted for a statement made on the ruling which was provided by Neidl via email: “We applaud the court’s recognition that Newburgh Local Law 6 is void for its interference with rights that are guaranteed under State law. Over the years, the State legislature has balanced the respective rights of tenants and landlords in the State statutes. Local Law 6 was an irresponsible effort to upend that balance and nullify the landlords’ State law rights inside the City of Newburgh. The court’s decision today will restore that balance for the plaintiffs and other Newburgh residential landlords.”
Requesting comments on behalf of the city, Michael Neppl, Chief of Staff for the city provided the following statement via email: “We are disappointed with the decision and the City Council will review our options with its attorneys.”
Councilman Anthony Grice concurred similarly via text following the ruling as he and several other council members have attended community events and supported organizations advocating the law.
For The Many Communications Lead Aaron Fernando provided the following statement via email as a result of the ruling: “A little over a week ago, an Ulster County judge temporarily blocked Kingston’s historic 15% rent reduction. Today, an Orange County judge blocked Newburgh’s Good Cause law,” stated Fernando. “Both lawsuits were brought by landlords seeking to continue inflicting unjust evictions and outrageous rent increases. If judges won’t allow cities to protect their tenants, Governor [Kathy]Hochul and the state legislature must pass Good Cause protections statewide.”
Zoë Johnson, Communications Manager for Community Voices Heard & Community Voices Heard Power released the following statement via email:“Although these tenant protections are completely legal, the judge found that Newburgh did not have the power to pass a good cause eviction law because existing State law preempts it. Our state elected officials cannot continue to ignore the housing crisis. Now more than ever, State legislators must pass Good Cause protections statewide,” Johnson said. “We call on Governor Hochul, Speaker [Carl] Heastie, and Majority Leader [Andrea] Stewart-Cousins to pass Good Cause Eviction at the state level immediately. New York State tenants can’t wait.”