Good Cause Eviction: Understanding Tenant Rights

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Junk Home Buyers

posted on

June 27, 2024

good cause eviction

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered what protections exist for tenants against unjust evictions?

On April 20, 2024, the Good Cause Eviction Law was enacted in New York, fundamentally redefining the landscape for both landlords and tenants1. This landmark housing legislation limits the grounds for eviction and enforces mandatory lease renewals unless there is a defined “good cause”1. The legislation also places a cap on rent increases, ensuring they remain reasonable in accordance with the inflation index or below 10%, whichever is lower1. Designed to foster fair housing rights, this law aspires to protect the nearly 1.6 million households anticipated to benefit from these stringent tenant rights measures2.

While the law applies to new and renewal leases in New York City and other localities that choose to opt-in, landlords must provide substantial justification for any eviction or failure to renew a lease1. Landlords are subject to broad notice requirements and the capping of rent increases1. Moreover, various exemptions apply, which include units with higher monthly rents, owner-occupied buildings with ten or fewer units, and units already covered under rent regulation1. This extensive framework aims to prevent unjust evictions and create an equitable rental market across the city and potentially the entire state1.

By substantially altering how evictions and rent increases are managed, the Good Cause Eviction Law seeks to create a balance between tenant protection and landlord rights, ensuring a stable and fair rental housing environment12.

Key Takeaways

  • Enacted on April 20, 2024, the Good Cause Eviction Law significantly limits arbitrary evictions and enforces mandatory lease renewals1.
  • The law requires landlords to justify any rent increases above the inflation index or 10%, whichever is lower1.
  • It strives to protect nearly 1.6 million households across New York2.
  • Various exemptions apply, including small landlords with fewer than 10 units and units already under rent regulation1.
  • The Good Cause Eviction Law aims to promote fair housing rights by providing clear guidelines for evictions and lease renewals1.

Introduction to Good Cause Eviction

The concept of Good Cause Eviction is rooted in providing tenants with security and fair housing rights, aiming to mitigate arbitrary evictions and unjust lease non-renewals by setting clear, justified reasons for eviction. This approach is essential to combat increasing eviction rates and to ensure that both landlords and tenants operate under a defined set of expectations and rental laws.

Definition of Good Cause Eviction

Good Cause Eviction refers to the legal restriction that allows landlords to evict tenants or refuse a lease renewal only for specific, justified reasons. This means evictions cannot be based on arbitrary or retaliatory grounds, safeguarding tenant stability. In New York, for instance, the Good Cause Eviction Law ensures that approximately 1.6 million households—about half of the state’s renters—are protected under this law2. The law helps to prevent scenarios where rent hikes exceed reasonable limits, protecting tenants from potentially exploitative increases2.

Importance of Understanding Tenant Rights

Comprehending rental laws and fair housing rights is critical for tenants to protect themselves against unlawful evictions. With New York experiencing severe rent burdens—34 percent of tenants spend at least half of their income on rent—it becomes imperative to understand these legal protections3. For tenants, especially those in areas like New York City with historically low vacancy rates, knowing these rights can mean the difference between stable housing and sudden displacement3. Empowering tenants with this knowledge ensures that they can assert their rights and navigate the rental market more confidently, mitigating risks related to health and housing instability often associated with evictions3.

The Good Cause Eviction Law provides clear legal grounds for landlords to evict tenants or refuse lease renewals, ensuring a fair and regulated rental market. Understanding these legal grounds is crucial for both landlords and tenants to avoid disputes and adhere to the law.

Non-payment of Rent

A primary ground for eviction under the Good Cause Eviction Law is the non-payment of rent. This measure safeguards landlords from financial loss while promoting eviction prevention by encouraging timely rental payments. This provision aims to create a balanced approach where tenants are protected unless they fail to meet their financial obligations.

Violation of Lease Terms

Another significant ground for eviction is the breach of lease terms. Tenants must adhere to the specific conditions outlined in their lease agreements. Any substantial violation, such as unauthorized subletting or significant property damage, can lead to a justified eviction. This approach ensures that both parties respect the agreed-upon terms and promotes a harmonious living environment.

Illegal Use of Premises

Engaging in illegal activity on property is a critical ground for eviction. Tenants involved in activities such as drug trafficking or other unlawful conduct can be legally evicted to maintain the safety and integrity of the community. This provision not only helps in eviction prevention but also upholds the law by removing problematic tenants.

New York enacted the Good Cause Eviction Law on April 20, 2024, which applies to all new leases and renewal leases in New York City and other villages, towns, or cities that opt-in1. Good Cause eviction would cover approximately 1.6 million households statewide in New York, roughly half of the state’s renters, including around 784,000 renter households in New York City24. Outside New York City, more than 50% of renters would qualify for Good Cause protections, with over two-thirds of households eligible in at least half of New York’s counties4. The law does not apply to small landlords or tenants in rent-regulated/rent-stabilized buildings, public housing, or Section 8 housing2.

Caps on Rent Increases

The Good Cause Eviction Law introduces stringent limits on rent increases to protect tenants from substantial rent hikes. Specifically, any rent increase is considered unreasonable if it surpasses the greater of 5% plus the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) change or 10%15. This regulation ensures that tenants are safeguarded from excessive rent escalations that could jeopardize their housing security under the rent increase cap provisions.

Definition of Unreasonable Rent Increases

Under the Good Cause Eviction Law, an unreasonable rent increase is defined strictly. Any rise above 5% plus the annual CPI or exceeding 10%, whichever is lower, falls under this category56. This helps maintain a fair balance, ensuring that landlords cannot impose drastic rent increases without valid reasons related to essential factors like major repairs or improvements.

Inflation Index and Rent Caps

Rent caps are inherently tied to the inflation index. In New York City, the inflation-related rent cap combines a base rate of 5% with the annual percentage change in the consumer price index for all urban consumers1. For example, with a 3.4% increase in the consumer price index over the last twelve months, this impacts the total permissible rent increase percentage1. This mechanism ensures that rent increases stay manageable and reflective of the broader economic conditions.

Rebuttable Presumption of Unreasonable Rent Hikes

When a landlord proposes a rent increase exceeding the stipulated threshold, there is a rebuttable presumption that the hike is unreasonable. To justify the increment, landlords must present compelling reasons, such as significant repairs or improvements6. This preventive measure mandates court oversight, ensuring that tenants are not subjected to unfair rent escalation without proper justification, thereby reinforcing the inflation-related rent cap standards.

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Notice Requirements for Landlords

Under the Good Cause Eviction Law, landlords must adhere to stringent notice requirements to ensure transparency in the *legal eviction process*. The landlord’s eviction notice requirements are meticulously outlined to provide tenants with the necessary information and time to respond to or challenge any eviction or non-renewal notices.

Information to Include in Notices

Landlords are mandated to provide specific details in their notices. These include the justification for the eviction or non-renewal, which falls under acceptable legal grounds such as non-payment of rent, violation of lease terms, or illegal use of the property. Additionally, any pertinent exemption classifications must be clearly stated. This ensures that tenants are not blindsided and understand the reasoning behind the eviction process, enhancing the transparency and fairness of the legal eviction process.

Exemption Notices

The Good Cause Eviction Law also covers scenarios where certain exemptions might apply. For instance, if a landlord is claiming an exemption from the standard eviction procedures, this must be explicitly mentioned in the eviction notice. Such exemptions might include specific housing accommodations or circumstances outlined by the law. Failure to include these details can lead to legal challenges and prolonged eviction processes.

Timely Delivery of Notices

Timely delivery of eviction notices is a critical requirement. The law stipulates distinct timelines for different notices to ensure tenants have adequate time to prepare or respond. For example, tenants in Massachusetts have 14 days to pay rent or vacate before a landlord can file for eviction7. Similarly, in Texas, landlords must provide a three-day notice to tenants who fail to pay rent or violate the lease agreement before filing an eviction lawsuit8. These timelines facilitate a structured approach to evictions, allowing for a fair and consistent legal eviction process across different states.

Exemptions from Good Cause Eviction

Understanding the various exemptions to eviction laws is vital for both tenants and landlords to navigate the intricacies of the Good Cause Eviction Law. Certain housing accommodations are excluded to balance the legislative goals with the specific needs of property owners and unique premises.

Types of Housing Accommodations Exempted

Among the housing accommodations exempted, the law notably excludes units where rent is greater than 245% of the fair market rent1. Furthermore, apartments that fall under specific rent regulations and small landlords operating 10 or fewer units are also exempt from the Good Cause provisions1. Additionally, owner-occupied buildings with 10 units or less do not fall under these eviction constraints1.

housing accommodations exempted

Criteria for Exemptions

Criteria for these tenants rights exemptions include the nature and classification of the property. Religious facilities or institutions housing units are also exempt from the Good Cause requirements1. Statewide, villages, towns, or cities have the option to adopt or opt-in to the Good Cause law, enabling more localized control over housing policies1. These exemptions reflect a selective approach to ensure that both tenant rights and property owner interests are considered.

Rights of Tenants Under Good Cause Eviction

The Good Cause Eviction Law in New York provides robust protections for tenants, ensuring fairness and stability in the rental market. These rights apply to new and renewal leases in New York City and other localities that opt-in.

Protections Against Retaliatory Evictions

Tenant advocacy is a central element of the Good Cause Eviction Law, safeguarding tenants from retaliatory evictions. This legislation requires landlords to demonstrate good cause to evict tenants, which helps deter landlords from targeting tenants who assert their rights. This provision became especially significant after a 25-fold increase in NYC residential evictions post-eviction moratorium2.

Defense Against Unreasonable Rent Increases

The law also includes a strong defense against rent hikes. It deems any rent increase unreasonable if it surpasses 5% plus the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) change or 10%, whichever is lower1. This cap plays a crucial role in maintaining affordable housing and preventing sudden rent surges that could displace tenants. Good Cause now covers roughly 1.6 million households statewide, with more than 784,000 renter households in New York City benefiting from these eviction protections24.

Moreover, renters have the right to challenge rent hikes beyond 3% or 150% of the CPI, compelling landlords to justify such increases2. This aspect of the legislation reflects a strong tenant advocacy stance, designed to shield tenants from unfair financial pressures.

The comprehensive nature of the Good Cause Eviction Law fortifies the rights of tenants, ensuring an element of stability and fairness within New York’s rental landscape. These protections help create a more balanced and just housing environment, where tenants are empowered to defend their rights against unreasonable rent hikes and retaliatory eviction attempts.

Impact of Good Cause Eviction Laws in New York

The introduction of Good Cause Eviction laws has triggered notable changes in the housing market by redefining landlord obligations and ensuring extensive benefits for tenants. Enacted on April 20, 2024, this legislation has limited evictions, mandated lease renewals, and capped rent increases for most market-rate apartments in New York City1. Additionally, approximately 1.6 million renter households in New York State have gained new protections4. This reform in housing market regulation strives to prevent unjust eviction practices and foster a fairer rental environment.

Changes to Landlord Obligations

Landlords now face stricter requirements under the Good Cause Eviction laws. They must justify any rent increases exceeding 3% or 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is higher, to avoid de facto eviction notices4. Furthermore, the law caps rent hikes that exceed the inflation index or 10%, the lesser of the two thresholds1. These measures aim to disincentivize arbitrary rent increases, ensuring landlords adhere to fair practices that align with housing market regulation standards.

Benefits for Tenants

For tenants, the Good Cause Eviction laws introduce substantial benefits by stabilizing rental terms and protecting against unfair practices. Renters in smaller buildings, post-1974 constructions, and deregulated units in New York City—totalling approximately 784,000 households—are now covered by these protections4. The legislation also addresses vulnerabilities in the market exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, acknowledging the intensified need for eviction laws to secure tenants’ housing stability during times of crisis4. Moreover, key benefits of good cause eviction include increased housing security and prevention of discriminatory eviction actions.

Overall, the Good Cause Eviction laws signify a significant shift towards more equitable housing market regulations, promoting tenant rights and stability across New York. These progressive changes in the impact of eviction laws have the potential to set a precedent for broader tenant protection frameworks and reinforce the benefits of good cause eviction for renters and the community at large.

Opt-in Provisions for Jurisdictions

Understanding the jurisdictional opt-in process and its implications is vital for areas considering the local adoption of housing legislation like the Good Cause Eviction Law.

Process for Local Adoption

Jurisdictions outside New York City have the opportunity to adopt the Good Cause Eviction Law, which allows them to tailor its application to their specific housing markets. The opt-in provision enables local governments to align their housing policies with the unique needs and demands of their communities, ensuring that regulations are effective and relevant to local conditions.

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Implications for Tenants and Landlords

The local adoption of housing legislation through the jurisdictional opt-in process has significant tenant and landlord implications. For tenants, it offers enhanced protections against unreasonable evictions and rent increases. Rent increases deemed reasonable are those that do not exceed 10% or 5% plus the local CPI, whichever is lower9. On the other side, landlords benefit from clearly defined guidelines and exemptions, such as those for owner-occupied housing accommodations with fewer than ten units or properties built after January 1, 2009, for a period of thirty years following occupancy certification19.

Units required to be affordable for certain income levels are also exempt from Good Cause regulations1. By understanding these provisions, both tenants and landlords can navigate the evolving landscape of rental laws, making informed decisions that reflect the needs of their respective parties.

Case Study: Good Cause Eviction in Action

Understanding real-life applications of Good Cause Eviction can be enlightening for both tenants and landlords alike. By examining case studies involving good cause eviction case studies and analyzing pertinent tenant rights case law, we can shed light on the practical implications of the law.

Real-life Tenant Experiences

One notable example involves Washington CAN, the largest member-based grassroots community organization in Washington state. The organization began organizing efforts in Federal Way in 2016, recognizing the area as crucial for investment10. Washington CAN committed to organizing in Federal Way for a minimum of three years, employing door-to-door campaigns and engaging residents in meaningful conversations10. As a result, 820 voters were registered, and 600 people requested in-language ballots10. The budget for this policy campaign was $237,000, which funded extensive efforts that included knocking on 40,000 doors and texting 13,000 people to qualify for the ballot10. This initiative led to a 7-point increase in voter turnout over 2017, and more people voted for the good cause eviction initiative than for Federal Way City Council Members, setting the groundwork for future progressive wins in Federal Way10.

Legal precedent good cause eviction decisions also play a significant role in shaping the landscape for tenant rights. Roughly 1.6 million households in New York State are covered by the Good Cause Eviction law, which equates to about half of the state’s renters2. In some counties, notably upstate, up to 75% of tenants are protected under this law2. It is important to note that landlords of fewer than 4 units are exempt from these provisions2. Since New Jersey has implemented Good Cause Eviction since 1974, the state has seen a boom in apartment construction, indicating the potential positive impact on housing development even with tenant protections in place2. These insights provide a comprehensive understanding of how good cause eviction case studies and tenant rights case law evolve over time, reflecting the realities faced by tenants and landlords alike.

JurisdictionKey Statistics
Washington CAN820 voters registered, 600 in-language ballots requested, $237,000 campaign budget, 40,000 doors knocked, 7-point increase in voter turnout
New York State1.6 million households covered, 75% tenant coverage in some counties, landlords of fewer than 4 units exempt, increased evictions since moratorium ended
New JerseyLong-standing Good Cause Eviction law since 1974, significant apartment construction growth

Comparison with Other Tenant Protection Laws

Good Cause Eviction stands beside other pivotal tenant protection laws, such as rent stabilization and federal housing regulations. Comparing these legislative frameworks highlights the distinctions and commonalities between the various levels of tenant protection, and underscores the unique position of Good Cause Eviction within the broader legal landscape of rental law.

Rent Stabilization vs. Good Cause Eviction

One primary distinction between rent stabilization laws and Good Cause Eviction is how they manage rent increases and tenant stability. Rent stabilization laws typically set specific caps on allowable rent increases and often provide additional tenant protections to ensure long-term affordability. Conversely, Good Cause Eviction does not inherently control rent increases but focuses heavily on the justification for non-renewal and eviction processes.

For example, California’s Tenant Protection Act imposes limits on rent increases, allowing landlords to raise rents by not more than 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living over a 12-month period or a total of 10%, whichever is lower11. This contrasts with Good Cause Eviction, which works to prevent unjust evictions while addressing rent hike concerns indirectly via court supervision. Overlapping in purpose, both laws seek to stabilize housing markets and protect tenants from arbitrary or substantial financial burdens.

Federal vs. State and Local Protections

Federal housing regulations, such as HUD guidelines, set nationwide standards for tenant protections and fair housing practices. These regulations are designed to ensure a baseline of tenant rights and housing stability across states, regardless of local legislation. However, federal laws often provide broad goals rather than specific rent control measures or eviction protections. For instance, federal regulations ensure non-discriminatory rental practices and help allocate housing assistance but may not address state-specific economic pressures directly.

State and local protections can offer more tailored solutions to regional housing market challenges. California’s Tenant Protection Act, for instance, includes provisions for just cause evictions and clear rules on allowable rent increases, ensuring localized control over rental pricing and tenant stability11. Similarly, New York’s Good Cause Eviction Law seeks to prevent unjust evictions by imposing strict conditions for lease non-renewal and significant rent increases, promoting tenant protection at a more granular level1213.

tenant protection law comparison

When conducting a tenant protection law comparison across federal, state, and local levels, it’s evident that each jurisdiction implements frameworks aligning with their unique economic and housing concerns. While federal housing regulations provide a foundation of protection, state and local laws like rent stabilization laws and Good Cause Eviction address the immediate needs and challenges faced by tenants in specific regions, ensuring a balanced approach to housing equity.

Challenges and Criticisms of Good Cause Eviction

The introduction of Good Cause Eviction laws has sparked significant criticisms from various stakeholders, particularly landlords who express concerns about restricted property rights and operational challenges. These landlord concerns highlight the balancing act policymakers must perform to protect tenant security while preserving housing investment incentives.

Concerns from Landlords

One of the primary criticisms of the good cause eviction policy is its potential to discourage housing investment and reduce the overall supply of available rental units. Landlords argue that restrictions on evictions and caps on rent increases could make it less appealing to invest in the rental market, thereby exacerbating existing housing shortages3. Good cause eviction may raise costs for tenants and make it harder for tenants to find homes due to stricter tenant screening processes3.

Debates on Housing Market Impact

Another key area of debate centers on the broader housing market effects of the Good Cause Eviction Law. Critics claim that these policies could lead to unintended consequences, such as a reduction in rental housing supply and increased rental costs for tenants3. New York City is experiencing its lowest vacancy rate in more than fifty years, which further complicates the market dynamics14. Furthermore, 34% of tenants are severely rent-burdened, spending at least half of their annual income on rent, an issue that could be aggravated by limited rental availability3.

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The debates about balancing the protection of housing stability while minimizing risks are ongoing. Some jurisdictions, for instance, exempt more small buildings from good cause eviction ordinances to mitigate landlord concerns and ensure sufficient rental property investment3. Anti-gouging measures in states like Oregon and California limit rent increases above 10%, showcasing different approaches to manage housing market effects within the framework of tenant protection laws3.

In summary, while Good Cause Eviction laws aim to safeguard tenant rights, landlord concerns and criticisms indicate potential challenges in balancing these objectives with healthy housing market dynamics.

Role of Tenant Advocacy Groups

Tenant advocacy groups play a critical role in supporting renters through the complexities of the Good Cause Eviction Law. By offering a range of tenant advocacy resources, these organizations assist tenants in navigating their rights and ensuring their voices are heard.

Support and Resources Offered

Various tenant advocacy resources are made available, including legal guidance, educational materials on tenant rights, and direct representation in disputes. For instance, Renters United Maryland (RUM) coordinates advocacy efforts to empower tenants and ensure housing stability15. Additionally, investment in eviction prevention programs is seen as cost-effective, reducing associated state-funded safety net costs15.

Case Examples and Success Stories

Numerous successful tenant cases illustrate the efficacy of these advocacy groups. For example, legislative actions like the passage of the Tenant Safety Act, which allocated $10 million to prevent evictions and homelessness for families, highlight significant wins for tenants15. These organizations have supported countless tenants in challenging unfair rent hikes, which have been reported as high as 30%, 50%, and even 100% in New York2.

These success stories demonstrate the positive impact rental housing advocates have had on law and policy, underscoring their essential role in housing justice. By addressing both immediate tenant needs and broader legislative changes, these groups foster environments where tenant rights are bolstered, and housing injustices are actively combatted.

How to Respond if You Face Eviction

Facing eviction can be a stressful experience, but following proper eviction response guidelines can help in managing the situation effectively. Understanding your rights and taking immediate steps can make a significant difference in the outcome.

Steps to Take Immediately

As soon as you receive an eviction notice, it’s crucial to act quickly. Begin by reviewing the notice to determine the type of eviction and the specific reasons cited. In California, for instance, tenants can receive a 3-day notice to pay rent, a 3-day notice to cure a lease violation, a 3-day unconditional quit notice, or a 30-day or 60-day notice to quit depending on their rental agreement16. Knowing which type of notice you’ve received helps you plan your next steps.

Also, make sure to file any necessary responses or affidavits within the specified timeframes to avoid a default judgment in favor of the landlord17. Tenants who do not file an answer or legal document in response to an eviction complaint may find that the judge rules in favor of the landlord and proceeds with the eviction16.

Seeking legal aid for tenants at an early stage can provide valuable guidance and improve your chances of a favorable outcome. Legal advisors can help you understand your eviction prevention options, such as filing for bankruptcy, although this may not always stop the eviction process16. Even during the eviction process, legal representatives can advise you on your rights and defenses.

Remember, tenants should continue to pay rent until they move out of the rental unit, even during an eviction process16. Keeping up with rent payments can help reinforce your commitment to resolving the issue and may be seen favorably if the case goes to court.

Utilizing available resources from tenant advocacy groups can also provide additional support and information on eviction prevention advice. Promptly seeking assistance and understanding the legal framework can significantly influence the trajectory of your eviction case.

Outlook on Future Housing Legislation

The landscape of future tenant protections is evolving, with advocacy for housing rights at the forefront of legislative discussions. As housing legislation trends continue to respond to the needs of both tenants and landlords, it is essential to understand the potential for new policies and reforms.

Potential Legislative Changes

The push for future tenant protections is gaining momentum, with states considering comprehensive measures to address housing affordability and prevent unjust evictions. For example, Illinois SB 1484 appropriated $5 million in grants for organizations dedicated to developing cooperative housing, showcasing a commitment to innovative housing solutions18. Similarly, the Massachusetts Affordable Homes Act marks a significant investment of over $4 billion, including more than $1 billion for affordable and sustainable housing developments18. These initiatives are indicative of a broader trend aiming to stabilize rent and protect tenant rights.

Advocacy and Tenant Rights

Continuous advocacy for housing rights remains crucial in shaping legislative outcomes. Tenant advocacy groups play a vital role in championing these causes, ensuring that future housing legislation trends are aligned with the needs of the communities they serve. For instance, cities like Albany and Ithaca are conducting vacancy studies to support rent stabilization programs, a testament to the ongoing efforts to safeguard housing stability in diverse locales19.

Furthermore, advocacy has driven states to allocate significant funds toward preventing homelessness and providing rental assistance, as seen with Oregon’s HB 5019 and HB 2001, which collectively designated nearly $100 million toward these efforts18. These actions highlight the importance of advocacy in achieving future tenant protections and ensuring a fair rental market for all.

As the push for equitable housing legislation trends continues, the collaborative efforts of tenant advocacy groups, legislative bodies, and community stakeholders will be pivotal in crafting comprehensive and fair policies that secure housing rights for all.


The introduction of the Good Cause Eviction Law marks a pivotal advancement in enhancing tenant rights and fostering housing stability across New York. This legislation, which restricts landlords’ abilities to evict except for specific, justified reasons, offers substantial protection to tenants against arbitrary or retaliatory actions.

From capping rent increases to enforcing stringent notice requirements, the law aims to create a balanced and fair rental market. This is particularly critical in the current housing climate, where gentrification and rent increases threaten the residence of low-income households due to gentrification20.

The Good Cause Eviction Law in New York serves as a significant case study for other states considering similar measures. The ongoing debates and potential amendments to the law demonstrate a commitment to refining housing policies and achieving equity in the rental market. As landlords and tenants navigate this new landscape, the core objective remains clear: to safeguard tenant rights while ensuring a just and equitable housing market for all.


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