Ithaca Tenants Union rallies outside City Court for ‘Right to Renew Leases’ bill

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Activists with the Ithaca Tenants Union rally outside the Ithaca City Court during eviction hearings for 12 tenants. (Megan Zerez/WSKG)

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) — Dozens of tenants rights activists gathered outside Ithaca City Court Thursday morning in freezing weather. They were there to witness the eviction hearings and are calling for the city to pass a ‘Good-Cause’ eviction bill.

Doug Krisch is one of the 12 tenants with a hearing. He was holding a big banner made from an old bedsheet.

“I was always a good tenant in my place for four plus years,” Krisch said. “And then I get a note late in the summer that said we’re not renewing your lease, it is time for you to go.”

Krisch said it’s been tough to find affordable housing in Ithaca during the winter off-season. Many landlords try to have leases begin in the fall in order to cater to Ithaca’s many student renters. Krisch said he will likely have to leave the city for good.

A bill in City Council would make landlords like Krisch’s prove they have a good reason before evicting or not renewing a lease. Recently-elected Alderperon Jorge DeFendini spoke at the rally. 

“I’m calling on my colleagues to pass the ‘Right to Renew Leases’ this coming month and continue to protect our neighbors from the harsh reality of displacement,” DeFendini said.

But the bill has been stalled in the Common Council for several months. Activists said they are worried it may not pass without outgoing Mayor Svante Myrick to break a tie.