City Evictions Drop Under New Rent Laws

The number of eviction cases filed in New York City has fallen by almost half since new tenant protection laws went into effect last June, the Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 26. Based on Housing Court data it analyzed, the number of new eviction cases for nonpayment of rent in the roughly four months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law June 14 was more than 35,000 less than those filed during the same period in 2018—a drop of 46 percent. 

“It’s like an earthquake in Housing Court,” Massimo D’Angelo, a lawyer who represents large landlords, told the Journal

“I think it is a wonderful thing,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan). “The incentive for landlords to get rid of tenants is gone.” The new law, the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, eliminated owners’ ability to deregulate vacant apartments once the rent got high enough, and restricted or eliminated some of the ways they were able to raise rents, often fraudulently. 

Housing Court supervising Judge Jean T. Schneider said that the decline was sharpest in July and August, as the law extended the deadline for tenants to respond to an eviction lawsuit from three days to 14. But nonpayment evictions filed during the court term that began on Oct. 7 were still 35% below what they were October 2018. 

Judith Goldiner, head of the civil law reform unit of the Legal Aid Society, also credited the city’s “right to counsel” program, which provides lawyers for some low-income renters in Housing Court. 

The number of “holdover” cases, filed by landlords trying to evict tenants for creating a nuisance or violating terms of their leases, fell by about 12 percent, according to the Journal.