Housing is a huge issue. Decisions that change laws that impact housing must be approached with caution and input from interested and/or knowledgeable residents who come to the discussion with a watchful eye. The administration neglected to do this, and the result is a proposal that is problematic in many ways.
The proposed ordinance is on the agenda for 1streading which means that, if it passes tomorrow, it does not become law. For this reason, it will probably pass tomorrow. (it shouldn’t, but it probably will.) There is a 2nd vote on the law 2 weeks after the 1stvote. If it passes on the 2nd vote (2nd reading,) it goes to the mayor for a signature and, if the mayor signs it, it goes into effect 20 days after the city council passes it.
The only exceptions are: 1) if the law is an emergency allowing the city council to vote that it is an emergency and then it goes into immediate effect (it would be a BIG mistake for anyone on the council to even think of doing this 2) if the mayor does not sign it, it does not go into effect 3) if the citizens submit enough signature within a designated period of time (referendum) to put the proposed law on the ballot to be voted on by the voters of Hoboken. (If this were to happen, it would be months before the law goes into effect (should the voters approve it) or, it will not and cannot become law for 3 years (should the voters disapprove it.)
I know that rent control laws can seem confusing, even daunting, particularly if you are not familiar with the nomenclature. Don’t let that stop you from speaking up and/or attending.
Put simply if you are a renter and if this proposal were to become law: Your rent will go up, your protections will go down & your existing rights will be negatively impacted.
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An ordinance introducing comprehensive changes to Hoboken’s rent protections is up for 1st reading on Wednesday’s city council agenda. The proposed legislation is intended to settle an interpretation disagreement between the rent leveling officer and head of housing, and the rent leveling and stabilization board. The mayor has, literally, shut down administration of our rent control laws and all rent board meetings (since October 2022) until passage of the amended law. All decisions or rulings on legal rents, capital improvement surcharges, hardship increases, requests for rent reductions or appeals to the rent board have ceased.
The proposed changes are fairly comprehensive and cannot be characterized as ‘fair to both tenants and landlords’ which is a frequent talking point that historically accompanies proposed changes to the ordinance regardless of whether it is a factually accurate statement.
Hoboken’s rent control laws are decidedly nuanced, and our local rent control history is rife with a tangled web of fires, displacements, referendums, court challenges, accusations, and contentious ballot questions. Over the 50 years that Hoboken has had rent control in place, it has gone from a centerpiece on the platform of aspiring local political candidates to a topic that candidates and elected officials do their best to avoid, ignore, and misconstrue.
In general, changes being proposed on Wednesday make the following amendments to the ordinance:
• Folds surcharges into the rent. Tax, sewer and water surcharges are now paid on top of, and in addition to the rent. Folding surcharges into the rent will raise the yearly increases, which are a percentage added to the existing rent. In the past, the increase was calculated as a percentage of the rent amount without surcharges. If the proposed changes go forward, the yearly percentage increase will be calculated using to the rent + any surcharges.
• Clarifies that new buildings with 4 or more units are exempt from the ordinance for 30 years only if they 1) file the required paperwork before the building receives a certificate of occupancy and 2) notify potential renters at the time they take occupancy that the property is not rent controlled.
• Hoboken’s subsidized buildings such as Marine View and Clock Towers currently have affordability controls from agreements that will soon expire. Our currents laws mandate a transition to rent control and the proposed law does not and would leave the tenants without rent control.
• Codifies (legalizes) all rent updates done by the rent leveling officer to date. including hundreds of calculations done in contradiction to the plain language of the existing Code and which denied all appellants (in these cases a renter) their right to challenge the rent calculation within 20-days of the decision.
• Continues to permit landlords to submit alternative proofs of rent increases and vacancy decontrols in perpetuity thereby incentivizing lack of compliance with the ordinance’s filing requirements.
• Reduces the cap on the maximum yearly increase from 7.5% to 5% or the consumer price index (CPI) whichever is the lesser number.
• Requires the rent leveling and stabilization board to get the permission of the administration in advance of promulgating any rules.
• Increases the annual filing and application fee for yearly registrations, capital improvements, legal rent calculations and appeals to the board.
• Removes the penalty for not filing a registration form and substitutes a requirement to pay a double registration fee, incentivizing landlord’s non-compliance to file
No outreach was done to Hoboken renters, rent control activists or the rent leveling board members in connection with crafting the proposal. Staff in the Housing Division did consult with investor/developer real estate lobbyist representatives and sources have stated that the administration, including the mayor and his chief of staff, met with and/or spoke with a representative from the Mile Square Taxpayers Association (MSTA), an organization that lobbies for the abolishment of rent control in Hoboken.
At a recent city council meeting, the administration proposed, and the city council approved, a contract to engage retired Judge Sarkisian to review Hoboken’s rent control laws. Despite members of the public requesting an answer to what the directive of the contract was, no answers were provided. However, based on these outcomes, it is clear that the contractor was directed to modify the ordinance in order to codify any and all administration, practices and processes that contradicted the existing language of the Code and to codify administration, practices and processes that ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the rent control files list legal rents so exorbitant that it would be impossible to secure tenants willing to pay those amounts thereby nullifying key consumer and community protections that ironically remain in the ordinance.
It has come to our attention that the mayor met with representatives of Marine View and assured them personally that the changes to the rent control ordinance will not harm them and are actually very good changes that help them.
We cannot stress enough to the residents of Marine View, Clock Towers, Church Towers, most of the Applied Buildings and other subsidized properties that this is NOT TRUE and please, for your own protection, do not believe what you were told.
The Current ordinance: Contains language specifically stating that buildings operated by government agencies that have affordable controls that preempt rent control transition to rent control once the agreement ends
The New ordinance: Removes the previous language that mandates that these buildings transition to rent control when the controls expire.
Why this is a problem: The elimination of the language that clearly states such properties transition to rent control removes that protection from the ordinance and allows for interpretation that the buildings do not transition to rent control and are thus unregulated. There is no good reason to remove the language that makes the intention that these properties transition to rent control clear. No good reason at all. To remove the language is to allow for a very different interpretation, which is that the buildings are completely unregulated once the affordable controls expire.
Been doing some research on AirBnB and short-term rentals (STR) & from the various studies I’ve read there are a few things that are pretty clear:
1) They contribute substantially to transforming residential areas into tacit tourist districts creating a more transient, consumption-oriented built environment
2) They create yet another form of local displacement: buy-to-let gentrification, displacing residents with tourists and creating greater housing insecurity
3) They contribute further to the financialization of housing in a way that is destructive to what we think of as the “community.” STRs can easily be used as a place to store surplus capital with total flexibility to sell at a moment’s notice ‘tenant free’ – the modern day version of ‘delivered vacant’
4) There is an exceedingly detrimental impact on the traditional private rental market that, among other things, promotes exclusionary displacement as new residents are unable to move in.
5) On a local level, the buy-to-let economy inevitably enhances warehousing as properties are purchased as buy-to-leave properties (waiting for tenants to leave and not re-letting them)
6) Tourist laden cities negatively impact property owners too via degradation of quality of life, increased crowding, loss of local shopping opportunities as stores cater to tourists rather than residents, etc.
Hoboken electeds made a false-hearted attempt at local AirBnB legislation in 2020 that had no enforcement mechanism, only addressed rent-protected properties and was proposed, not so coincidentally. shortly after several press stories broke about one council member renting out his condo on AirBnB suggesting that the legislation intent was created to target that councilperson and not created to address the interplay between the STR market and our local housing market.
To be true and well-intentioned, any airBnB, STR legislation passed in Hoboken needs to:
1) reverse tenancy insecurity created through the STR market
2) levies short-term occupation into a taxation framework that incentivizes long-term rentals
3) reforms any fiscal benefits provided to foreign investors and financial institutions to whatever extent possible
4) reconsiders the role of tourism as a sustainable form of economic growth in Hoboken
5) contributes to the promotion of housing as shelter and not as an investment vehicle
Other cities across the globe are taking on the complexities of addressing STRs. Here’s an example in Lisbon that Hoboken electeds might want to explore. What’s interesting about what is being done there is that they are also taking the opportunity to include green infrastructure, in this case, bike lanes, in the overall program.
I’m hopeful that our new housing division has lots of well-researched ideas on how we can proceed with effective and appropriate ideas for STR legislation in Hoboken.
With the dozen or so redevelopment agreements in the pipeline representing 100s upon 100s of new apartments, many of which will more than likely end up owned by private equity, it is incumbent on our elected representatives and, it is the mayor that negotiates these redevelopment agreements, to seek legal advice on how to build concrete protections for occupants of the exorbitant number of anticipated rental units forthcoming in these developments.
Increasing the number of designated affordable units, creating a CLT controlling some sizable percentage of units, implementing rent protections into the redevelopment agreement (the city is currently doing this for commercial rentals in the Neuman Leather project) or some other protection must be built into these redevelopment agreements and, any new redevelopments anticipated.)
Greystar, one of the private equity firms mentioned in the article already owns property in Hoboken. I haven’t checked any of the other private equity firms mentioned, but there is a good chance that, at least, some of them are here as well.
Any and all residents that are concerned about escalating transience would be acting in their own best interest to unilaterally oppose any redevelopment that includes residential development unless and until the administration tackles this issue. It’s time to invest our legal resources, time and energy in ways that enhance the ‘community feel’ that everyone points to in Hoboken.
There is a very important community meeting regarding proposed amendments to the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan. (NJ Transit.)
When: Tuesday, October 15, 7 PM Where: the Multi-Service Center, 124 Grand Street
The city council will be voting on this plan amendments in the near future. The amended plan increases the density of the ends of the existing plan fotos eroticas antiguas by 60% and leaves the middle milflivecamsforce.com to be discussed in the future.
The administration is pretending that the plan is getting smaller by not mentioning the future development.
Please attend and be LOUD. Let the city council members know that we do NOT want an increased NJ Transit Redevelopment – NOT NOW – NOT EVER.
How will you keep Hoboken’s rent protections in place with so many absentee property owners trying to weaken it?
Frank states that we should maintain the rent control laws. He focuses mostly on commercial properties and the vacant storefronts in town.
Jen’s immediate response was, ‘keep me as your council person’ (as a way to ensure we keep our rent protections.) She shares how she became familiar with the issue of displacement since she was first elected and shares 2 specific incidents where she intervened and was able to help ensure that the tenants in displacement situations were able to stay in their homes.
HFHA can verify that both of the situations to which Council President Giattino refers occurred and that both tenants, with her assistance, avoided displacement. One tenant was able to purchase her apartment (condo.) The other has, sadly, succumbed to the terminal illness he was dealing with at the time that the property owner attempted to increase his monthly rent via a hardship application by over 1K/mo. He was able to stay in his home until he passed away without a rent increase.
If you’re tired of dealing with real estate agents and their commission fees, https://www.buymyhouse7.com/wyoming/ can provide a simple and cost-effective solution.
Watch the entire taped debate HERE. (Note: some technical/audio tests at beginning, lol)
Renee and Annette shared some thoughts on how to get the pending legislation moving and Scott explained by pt-media.org what ranked choice voting is and the benefits of it:
1) Promotes Majority Support
2) Discourages Negative Campaigning!!!
3) Provides More Choice for Voters
Special applause to Annette who had the grace and presence to respond to the question that Scott posed to the attendees about our moolahoops experience in targetsignups the last (mayoral) election (plurality winner) for responding (paraphrase) ‘I don’t think we want to discuss the mayoral election.’
(bullet point #2 is of particular benefit to Hoboken considering the behavior we saw from one particular campaign in mayoral election.)