NYC couple forced to move says "Good Cause Eviction Bill" needed to limit surprise rent spikes

NEW YORK -- The pandemic deals that lured so many short-term renters back into New York City are coming to an end.

Now as CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reports, even long-term renters who never left are facing unheard of spikes.

Husband and wife, David Salsbery Fry and Claudia Friedlander, are musicians. He's an opera singer, and she's a voice coach. They've lived on West End Avenue near Lincoln Center for 15 years.

That is, until the opened a rent renewal offer on New Year's Day.

"They planned on raising our rent 74%," Salsbery Fry said.

Their building was rent stabilized for two decades, until it was destabilized several years ago, meaning it could now go for market price. By law, market price buildings must give tenants written notice if rent is going up more than 5%.

As this couple learned, there is no cap.

"If you live in an apartment that is not rent stabilized or controlled, there is still no limit on how much your landlord can increase your rent," said Salsbery Fry.

Some state lawmakers are trying to change that. A "Good Cause Eviction Bill" is on the table in Albany. It would set a limit on rental increases by tying them to inflation.

"The Good Cause Eviction Bill would cap it at 3%," housing attorney Andrew Lieb explained.

Lieb said there are several reasons why landlords are boosting rents.

"Number one is the loss of revenue of the pandemic and increased demand, which allows them to therefore recoup that lost revenue," he said.

Lieb said laws that are favorable to tenants actually end up increasing rent.

"This Good Cause Eviction Bill... Just talking about it is making landlords raise rent," he said. "Why? Because they're saying, 'Oh shoot, if this passes, I'm going to be capped at 3%. Better act now so I don't lose my shirt.'"

The couple Duddridge spoke with worries without the bill, only millionaires will be left in Manhattan.

"As long as it is under consideration but hasn't passed, landlords will feel like they're under pressure to raise rents as much as they can," Salsbery Fry said.

Ultimately, they were forced out and had to change communities. But they consider themselves lucky. They borrowed money from family to secure another rent-stabilized building, hoping to avoid another surprise rent spike for another decade.

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