Council postpones rent control 'fix'

Council postpones rent control 'fix'
Thursday, November 10, 2005

JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

HOBOKEN - The city agreed last Tuesday to postpone imposing a controversial rent control amendment for up to 90 days - and the City Council may be mulling over some changes to the ordinance to avoid a court battle.

Last month, the City Council overwhelmingly approved an amendment to create a two-year statute of limitations for new tenants to collect any illegal rent paid, while limiting all current tenants to two years' worth of rent paid above the legal amount.

The amendment also requires landlords to serve new and current tenants with disclosure statements that lay out the tenant's rights.

The amendment was set to go into effect this month, but a legal challenge made last Tuesday by tenant advocate and Hoboken attorney Cathy Cardillo prompted the city to delay the effective date.

It appears that both parties will seek a resolution of the issue before Cardillo's challenge is heard in court Jan. 13.

Mayor David Roberts said he believes the City Council will look at ways to "tweak" the amendment that will garner more public support, while keeping it out of court.

"If the amendment needs to be altered to avoid going to court, but the integrity of the changes are maintained, then it should be done, and I think this council will do it," Roberts said.

At last Tuesday's court appearance to schedule a hearing for Cardillo's challenge, Judge Maurice Gallipoli said he was inclined to allow the city to make its own decisions regarding the ordinance.

"It's not rocket science. This is solvable, if we just use some common sense," Gallipoli said. "All you have to do is let people know their rights and then give everyone enough time to make a claim, then we can avoid all of this."

That prompted the attorney representing the city to reply, "I understand. That is what we are going to try to do."

Cardillo said she supports some form of statute of limitations, but not a limit on how much tenants can collect. She said she'd like to see the ordinance revised so current tenants are given two years to collect all rent paid above the legal amount, as opposed to just two years' worth.

"If current tenants are advised of their rights, and they don't dispute the rent for two years, then they lose their ability to recoup all their rent. If the City Council and I can come to a fair conclusion, then I will step away," she said.

 


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