Question on Hoboken ballot in November would remove all apartments/condos from rent control once present tenant moves out; some units would go back under it with new tenant
Sep 30, 2012 | 2517 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Hoboken tenants' group set up a table at the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival Sunday to make their case against the proposed rent control changes to appear on the November ballot.
A Hoboken tenants' group set up a table at the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival Sunday to make their case against the proposed rent control changes to appear on the November ballot.
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HOBOKEN -- If you found that headline confusing, you're not alone. But what's happening is simple: A group of property owners has fought to get a measure on Hoboken's November ballot that would remove all units in town from rent control when a current tenant moves out. For buildings with four or fewer apartments (or for condos being rented), those units would never be under rent control again. For buildings with more than four units, the next tenant would go back under rent control, but it would apply to the brand new rent.

For example, let's say a tenant is paying $1,000 per month for a rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment in Hoboken, and that person has been living there for 20 years. The rent presently can increase maybe 2-3 percent per year under rent control (it depends on the cost of living adjustment), or $30 per month more. Tax and water surcharges may be passed along as well. However, if the change goes through in November, then once that person moves out, the landlord can increase the new rent to as much as he can reasonably get in the present real estate market -- say, $1,500 per month.

Once the new tenant starts paying, if the unit is in a building of five or more units, rent control returns and the $1,500 may be subject to increases of only a few percent a year after that for that tenant. But if the unit is in a building with four or fewer units, it will never be rent controlled again, so the $1,500 could be raised each year to whatever the market will bear.

Hoboken's Rent Control Ordinance has been in effect since 1973 and has seen only a few changes since then, as tenant groups in town have feared that changing it would encourage landlords to push out long-term tenants in Hoboken.

The question on November's ballot in Hoboken asks voters to vote YES to take units off rent control if someone moves out. Voters should vote NO if they don't approve of the changes and want the apartments to continue to be rent controlled.

Which apartments in Hoboken presently fall under rent control? Many long-time apartments built before 1987. Subsidized and tax abated buildings aren't included.

Hoboken's existing rent control ordinance has other provisions besides limiting rent increases each year. The ordinance also entitles landlords to a 25 percent decontrol every three or more years when a tenant voluntarily vacates. Landlords can also pass along water, sewer, and tax increases, and they can apply to the city for a "hardship increase" if they are not getting enough of a return on their investment.

The story on the potential change in November was covered this past weekend in the Hoboken Reporter, and was starting to generate some heated comments this weekend here.

Want to know more? Read past stories in the Reporter by following the links below.

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