On Nov. 6, the voters will be asked to vote on a very dangerous ballot question: Hoboken Public Question 2 (HPQ2). HPQ2 is dangerous for two reasons. First, if the voters approve amendments to Hoboken’s Rent Control (RC) Law by voting “Yes”, then RC will effectively end and many current tenants will be forced out of their homes. Second, Mile Square Taxpayer Association (MSTA), the developer/realtor organization that circulated the initiative petition to get the HPQ2 RC amendments on the ballot, have managed to get their wording of the public question on the ballot. In violation of NJ State Law, this MSTA HPQ2 wording is so misleading that it will trick many voters into voting against their intent.
Suppose a voter who wants Hoboken to continue RC protections reads the beginning of the MSTA ballot question: “Shall the City of Hoboken continue annual rental increase protections for current residents of rent controlled properties …” The voter will naturally assume that he must vote “yes.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The actual purpose of the HPQ2 initiative is to completely decontrol all rents upon vacancy.
Here’s what will happen if a majority of the voters approve the RC Amendments by voting “yes” on HPQ2: Once a current tenant vacates his/her unit either voluntarily or by court ordered eviction: (1.) Rents are decontrolled and can be increased to whatever the landlord wants to charge for every new tenant. (2.) All 1-4 unit buildings and condos are permanently exempted from Rent Control.
NJ State law makes it easy for a landlord to obtain court-ordered eviction of tenants from 1-3 unit rental buildings and condos at the end of their lease and from all rental buildings with condo conversion evictions. Thus, if HPQ2 is approved by the voters, landlords will have the means and incentive to evict current tenants or otherwise “convince” them to move “voluntarily” and then jack up the rent to whatever they want for new tenants. Many Hoboken renters will lose their homes.
And the deceptive wording of the ballot question will undermine the democratic electoral process: voters can be tricked into voting against their intent.
Unfortunately our only recourse at this point is to spread the truth about HPQ2: if the RC amendments are approved, then landlords will have a huge financial incentive to evict their current tenants so that the new tenants will pay much more rent! Thus, if you want to defend Hoboken renters, you must vote no on Hoboken Public Question 2 on Nov. 6.
For more information or to join in the effort to defend Hoboken renters, call (201) 589-1892 or go to http://hobokenfairhousing.com/.