Hoboken City Council Postpones Rent Control Vote

Hoboken council delays vote on changes to rent control

Friday, September 23, 2005
The Jersey Journal

HOBOKEN - The City Council postponed a vote on several changes to the city's rent control ordinance Wednesday, citing a need to review the proposal's impact and language.

But that didn't stop a number of residents from voicing their opposition, which caused some heated debates - to the point that the police were nearly involved - and the meeting stretched to three hours.

The most controversial proposed amendment would exclude the city's 564 two-family, owner-occupied homes.

Critics cite state legislation that allows landlords in two-family, owner-occupied buildings to evict a tenant without cause at the end of their lease as a reason to oppose the change. Without the protection of the rent control ordinance, critics say, landlords could evict current tenants in order to replace them with new tenants willing to pay higher rents.

"I am just afraid of what will happen to these people, and there are more than 500 of them, the people you're supposed to represent," said Cathy Cardillo, a longtime tenant advocate and Hoboken attorney.

Councilman-at-large Ruben Ramos Jr., the key supporter of the amendment, said that he wants to mirror state legislation that treats two-family, owner-occupied homes differently.

The other, less controversial amendment creates a two-year statute of limitations on a tenant's ability to recoup money from a landlord who, under the rent control ordinance, is found to be overcharging.

Councilman-at-large Peter Cammarano, the key supporter of this revision, said "there are currently two instances where there is no statute of limitations in Hoboken: murder and rent rebates.

The amendment also would require landlords to serve their tenants with a full statement explaining their rights.

Those in attendance were less critical of this proposal, but they did urge the City Council to better define disclosure.

Opponents saw the amendments as another assault in the continuing weakening of the city's rent control policy in favor of big-money developers.

"The city keeps nibbling away at rent control," said Dan Tumpson, a tenant in Hoboken for at least two decades. "And now you're going to sell us out to your wealthy patrons."

Ines Garcia-Keim, a member of the city's Rent Leveling Board, said the City Council had not sought the board's advice before considering the two amendments.

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