Rent control changes go to City Council Vote

Public discussion will be Wednesday in Hoboken
Saturday, September 17, 2005
The Jersey Journal
HOBOKEN - Changes to the city rent control ordinance that would limit a tenant's ability to recoup possibly thousands of dollars in illegally overpaid rent go before the city council next week for a vote.

Currently, there exists no statute of limitations on a tenant's ability to recover illegally overpaid rent when the city finds a landlord guilty of overcharging.

For example, if a tenant paid $1,000 for 12 months, then at the tenant's request, the city finds that the legal rent should be $500, the landlord must pay the tenant $6,000 - the amount of the overcharge.

The longer the landlord overcharges, the higher the amount due to the tenant. That has allowed some tenants - who lived in the same apartment for years - to receive as much as $100,000 in rent rebates, according to interviews and city records.

The proposed amendment would require landlords to serve their tenants with a full disclosure statement, which explains the tenant's right to dispute the rent and the right to secure any overcharges.

The tenant would then have a two-year window, from the date they received the certified disclosure statement, to collect any money for previous violations of the city's ordinance, which could result in the loss of hundreds - possibly thousands - of dollars if a tenant exercised their rights beyond the deadline.

The tenant still retains the right to get the rent lowered, but the amendment places the time restriction on recouping the back rent.

The new proposal mandates that landlords advise tenants of their rights under rent control, which is missing from the current ordinance - an omission critics say has led to ignorance on the part of the tenants and abuse by the city's landlords.

This and other proposed changes represent yet another shift in power from the tenants to the landlords since the city's rent control ordinance was established in 1981. The most recent shift occurred when the city granted landlords the ability to increase rent by 25 percent - once every three years - when an apartment becomes vacant.

City Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr. introduced the amendment at last week's council meeting, and the public discussion and final vote is expected on Wednesday.

Comments (2)

Said this on 9-21-2005 At 04:48 pm
Im fortunate to be a condo owner in Hoboken but I know
of many friends over the year who have bene afraid of doing a rent leveling check.
For fear of landlord retaliation.
This new amendment beenfits the landlords.
Wrong action.
Said this on 2-27-2009 At 10:01 pm
I enjoyed your site.

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