Citizens of Hoboken:
Hoboken’s November 8, 2011 General Election ballot contains Public Question No. 2: “Shall the Ordinance Z-88, adopted by the City Council of the City of Hoboken, which amends certain provisions of Chapter 155 of the City Code, entitled “Rent Control” be repealed?”
You should vote YES to reject Z-88 for two reasons: first, it is unfair and harmful to tenants, and second, to force the Mayor and Council to implement a process for evaluating alleged problems with and possible amendments to the Rent Control (RC) Law, or any law, which fairly addresses the rights and concerns of all affected citizens, not merely those with the most money.
RC Amendments Z-88 were supposedly created in response to landlord allegations that the RC law was being misadministered, i.e. that some landlords were misinformed by RC administrators on how to conform with the RC law. Instead of verifying and dealing with these allegations, the Mayor and Council simply enacted amendments which weaken tenants’ RC protections and only benefit landlords.
Under the existing RC law, a tenant who has been charged an illegal rent can get back all of the illegal rent overpayment. If Z-88 is enacted, a tenant will only be able to recover at most two years worth of the illegal overpayment and if the tenant does not apply for a legal rent calculation within two years of being given a “disclosure statement” that RC exists, the tenant cannot recover any overpayment. Unfortunately, this disclosure statement does not even reveal that the rent the tenant is paying may be illegal! Z-88 would give the RC Board the “equitable authority” to not follow the law in making decisions concerning rents. Z-88 would change the base rent year from 1973 to 1985, rewarding the landlord for charging an illegal rent prior to 1985. Z-88 would allow landlords to submit possibly unverifiable “alternative proofs” (in place of documents required under the present law) to legitimize past rent increases such as a certified statement from the landlord that a past tenant vacated voluntarily. Finally, Z-88 specifies that more changes to the law will follow, making it more difficult for affected citizens to protest with a referendum petition as they lose their rights one step at a time.
These proposed Z-88 changes reward landlords who violated the law and encourage them to evict tenants who pay legal rents.
All nine of the councilpersons who voted to pass Z-88 indicated on the record that they had problems with it, but they voted for it anyway, forcing concerned citizens to collect 3158 referendum signatures and go to court to get the issue on the ballot for the voters of Hoboken to decide.
If you or any of your friends and neighbors are tenants who will lose RC protections and possibly their homes, you have the opportunity to take part in a democratic process and do something about it: Vote yes to reject Z-88 to defend tenants’ rights and to force the Mayor and Council to properly represent you!
Let your voice be heard: democracy and justice can prevail over money! Vote yes to reject Z-88!