Rent control is not just for renters
Sep 09, 2012 | 978 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

I was recently challenged by a friend who is a Hoboken property owner on my position on rent control. “You are for rent control because you are a renter,” he said, “but if you owned a building and someone was trying to tell you how much you could charge for rent, you wouldn’t like it, right?”

I told him that if I owned a home in Hoboken I wouldn’t mind complying with regulations that were reasonable. Regulations are part of living in civilization. I can’t run through stop lights, assault my neighbor, help myself to merchandise in stores, park on the sidewalk, etc.

The question concerned me because I would not support any law that that favors one group unfairly at the expense of another. Hoboken homeowners are staples of the community and their rights must be fairly addressed in any rent control provision or I would not support it.

This is one of my objections with the initiative that will appear on the ballot in November. It was written by a group of property owners, not elected representatives. Unfortunately, our City Council did nothing in regard to the initiative, so what will appear on the ballot is legislation written strictly by the lobbying group MSTA. I don’t see this group as representing individual homeowners in Hoboken, but as representing companies who own as many as 100 buildings in town, who stand to reap fortunes if the initiative becomes law. As a result, MSTA is extremely well-funded and aggressive.

I gave examples of property owners who are supporters of rent control. Councilwoman Theresa Castellano told me she has been a property owner for decades and has no problem complying with rent control. She has always gotten along with her tenants and the restrictions cause no hardship. Dan Tumpson, one of Hoboken’s biggest advocates for rent control over the last 30 years, is a condo owner. These laws are not designed to push the interests of renters only.

I asked Dan Tumpson why a property owner would support rent control. He explained the historic justification for rent control, which is written in the preamble of the rent control legislation. Given that housing is a necessity of life, and there is a critical shortage of housing in Hoboken, and it is subject to monopolistic control than enables property owners to subject tenants to steep increases resulting in many being forced from their homes, it is appropriate for government to step in to avert the possible calamity for a majority of the population. The Supreme Court of New Jersey has ruled that no rent control law can exist that denies property owners a fair return on their investment. This is what the Rent Leveling Board exists for. If a property owner is experiencing a hardship and not able to receive a fair return on investment, he/she can approach the Rent Leveling Board and receive allowances for that. The law is for the city at large, not just renters.

David Cogswell

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