What You Need to Know About New York’s Good Cause Eviction Law

Thanks to the new Good Cause Eviction Law, many New Yorkers are now protected from eviction or big rent hikes as of April 20th.

What this means is that landlords must have a good reason to evict a market-rate tenant, and are now required to justify raising a tenant’s rent by a certain threshold. (Previously, a landlord didn’t have to justify a rent increase or why they didn’t renew a market-rate tenant’s lease). 

Does the Good Cause Eviction Law apply to you? Read more below to find out. 

What Is the Good Cause Eviction Law? 

The Good Cause eviction law gives market-rate renters a legal way to challenge an unreasonable rent hike defined as more than 10 percent, or 5 percent plus the consumer price index of 3.82 percent (a measure of inflation), whichever is lower. 

What the heck does that all mean in plain English?

It means a tenant whose building is covered by the Good Cause can challenge a rent increase above 8.82 percent as of April 20th (when the law went into effect). 

The Good Cause also requires landlords to let a tenant renew their lease, except if the owner has a good cause to evict the tenant, such as failure to pay rent (excluding an unreasonable rent hike), a violation of the lease rules, breaking the law, or if the landlord wants to demolish the building or live in it themselves. 

Landlords MUST notify tenants whether or not the building is covered or exempt via a rider attached to the lease (you can see a copy here).  You can also see this cheat sheet to determine  if your building is an exemption – about 3.5 million renters statewide live in buildings exempt from the Good Cause. 

Which Tenants Aren’t Covered by the Good Cause?

  • Tenants in rental units in condo and co-op buildings.
  • Tenants in rent-regulated apartments.
  • Tenants living in units built after 2009.
  • Tenants who pay more than 245 percent of the fair market rent for their apartment—meaning if you pay more than about $6,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in NYC, you’re out of luck.
  • Tenants currently in housing court disputes.

Which Landlords Are Exempt From the Good Cause?

  • Small landlords who own no more than 10 apartments in the state.
  • An owner who lives in their own building, which holds less than 10 units.

How to Figure Out Which Buildings Are Covered?

Figuring that out can be tricky, especially when the buildings in a landlord’s portfolio are commonly owned by a separate limited liability company. It can be difficult to figure out what an owner’s portfolio is because state LLC laws make it very non-transparent. 

Fortunately, there are options!

  1. Check if your landlord is a small landlord by researching their portfolio through the online tool “Who owns what in NYC?” 
  2. Find out when your building was constructed by checking its certificate of occupancy (CO) on the NYC Department of Buildings’ website (remember that only buildings with a CO issued after 2009 are exempt)
  3. See how to research a landlord before signing a lease
  4. Plug in your current rent to this calculator to see the maximum rent that would be deemed reasonable by the Good Cause law. 

I’m Covered, What Do I Do Now? 

The best thing a tenant can do is empower themselves by knowing their rights. Knowing your rights means that you’ll be ready to protect yourself against an unreasonable rent hike come lease renewal time. Then you can use that knowledge to negotiate. 

What to do if you are the subject of an unreasonable, and unlawful rent increase? 

If tenants in buildings covered by the Good Cause Law aren’t notified by the landlord, this could be used in court as a defense against a landlord for an unreasonable rent increase. Yet keep in mind that housing courts are currently backed up and that none of these specific cases have been tried yet in housing court. We’re also aware that going to court isn’t anyone’s favorite activity (we place it somewhere between root canals and taxes). Ultimately, it’s better to maintain a positive relationship with your landlord and resolve issues amicably if you can, going to court as a last resort. 

One action we do recommend if you’re facing an unreasonable rent hike is getting organized with your fellow tenants and contacting an advocacy group for help.

To learn more about the landlord rights and responsibilities, check out our page here, and to learn more about the Good Cause, read the law here. If you’re worried about renewing your lease, here’s what you can do. We hope that empowers you with the knowledge you need to protect your rights as a tenant. And to our landlord friends, we also hope this helps you know your rights as a landlord and to protect yourself as well.


If you’re interested in learning about buying or selling in Brooklyn, download our free Buying Into Brooklyn Ebook or our Seller’s Guide. We share a ton of valuable resources to demystify the buying and selling process.

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