A developer/real estate group, MSTA, recently circulated an initiative petition that they call the “Hoboken Housing Improvement Initiative” which includes proposed amendments to Rent Control (RC) which will likely be on the November ballot. If these RC amendments pass, it will mark the beginning of the end of RC protections in Hoboken, putting many renters at immediate risk of losing their homes. If you, or any of your friends and family, are renters, understand that these RC changes, if passed, will force renters out of Hoboken.
Petitioners may suggest that existing tenants will be protected if their initiative passes. This is false.
The initiative states that “Upon the voluntary, uncoerced vacation or court ordered eviction” of any tenant protected by the existing RC ordinance, his/her unit will either be permanently exempted from RC (if the unit is in a building with 4 or fewer units) or, for all other units, be subject to a complete vacancy decontrol (i.e. an unlimited rental increase.)
Here is what the petitioners will not tell you:
NJ State law gives landlords who own/occupy 1-3 unit buildings the right to obtain a “court ordered eviction” at the end of the current lease with nothing more than a 60-day eviction notice. Landlords that don’t live in the building can state they want to occupy a unit and evict with the same 60-day notice. When tenants are evicted from these 1-3 unit buildings, under Hoboken’s RC laws, the landlord is barred from increasing the rent for the subsequent tenant; NJ State law does not restrict the landlord from charging more. While our current protections are in place, there is no monetary incentive to evict. Should the petition pass…there will be.
Landlords of 1-3 unit buildings with existing tenants that pay high rents might also be motivated to evict in order to be free of any responsibility to follow the RC protection laws as once the existing tenant is evicted, the units become unregulated. For larger properties, the court ordered eviction comes in the form of a condo conversion. In a mere three years, when the existing tenant is forced to leave, the converted property also becomes completely unregulated.
State laws won’t protect tenants if Hoboken’s rent control laws are gutted. The state law only addresses evictions and rent increases deemed unconscionable without defining what that is. Tenants facing outlandish increases will need to go to court where, in order for a judge to declare any increase unconscionable, s/he would need to consider both the amount of the increase and how the total rent compares with rents in the surrounding area.
If this initiative passes, our community will be powerless to undo its damage for three years. But, it will take much less time for many residents to be displaced. To protect our community, our friends, family and neighbors, we must all go to the polls on Election Day and vote against the MSTA initiative and we must spread the word to all of our friends and neighbors so that everyone knows what is at stake!