As Hoboken grapples with cost-of-living issues, a debate about both rent-controlled apartments and increases for tenants could end with a voter referendum later this year.
It’s no secret that Hoboken’s rents have escalated significantly in post-COVID times, as multiple studies have found the city to have some of the highest monthly rents in the nation. Tenants at several complexes have banded together to voice concerns about massive increases included in their lease renewals, which has sparked action from local officials.
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla tweeted just about a month ago that “rent increases in certain buildings of up to 30% are completely unreasonable and unconscionable.” He then sent letters to The Bozzuto Group, Avalon Bay, and Lincoln Properties calling on them “to show some compassion and decency, and work with existing tenants on appropriate rates.”
Hoboken’s City Council followed that by unanimously passing a resolution during their April 19 meeting in support of Hoboken tenants in the properties managed by the tree companies. The resolution “calls on Lincoln Property Co., Inc., AvalonBay, Inc. and the Bozzuto Realty Group to refrain from violating New Jersey law by issuing unconscionable rent increases to their tenants.”
It’s unclear how much impact the advocacy has made, but another battle over rent-controlled units has broken out. Per TapInto, Hoboken City’s Council passed reforms to Hoboken’s rent control legislation late last month that were quickly vetoed by the Mayor over his belief they are “flawed.”
Bhalla wrote in a veto statement that the City Council’s changes “will have the effect of gradually eliminating rent control in Hoboken within the next 10 years, or sooner.” He claimed that the new rules will allow landlords and property owners to bank rent increases in rent-controlled units on a current tenant but then “legally levy a large, banked increase on the next tenant.”
The veto drew the ire of the Mile Square Taxpayers Association, who have announced intentions to start a petition seeking a vacancy decontrol referendum. Per the Hudson Reporter, a 2013 voter referendum that was looking to take apartment buildings with four or fewer units off rent control failed by just 122 votes.
The battles in Hoboken are unfolding at a time when the North Jersey rental market is the toughest in the country, with the region sporting an occupancy rate of nearly 97% and an average of 12 people competing for an apartment at the beginning of the year.