Rent Control Debate Rages On

Hoboken Rent Control vote voided by NJ Judge

You almost knew this was going to happen. The confusing Hoboken rent control public question that was on the ballot of the general election back in November has to be voted on again, according to NJ Superior Court Judge Christine Farrington.

The Judge determined the voting results “void.” The petition to revise rent control laws in Hoboken more in favor of property owners had failed by just about 50 votes. But the Mile Square Taxpayers Association who filed suit claimed that many voters couldn’t cast their ballot because of issues arising from Hurricane Sandy.

A new special election will need to be held in 60 days, according to the ruling.

As the world turns here in Hoboken…

Hoboken Rent Control Election voided

Nora Jabobson Film Screenings for pro-Hoboken rent control

10/11/2012 Update:

Whether you’re in agreement with rent control in Hoboken or just on the fence – you will be interested in this film screening double header on Saturday, October 20th at 7pm.

The Hoboken Fair Housing Association is screening two Nora Jacobson films over at The Community Church at 6th & Garden Streets. The infamous Delivered Vacant (which I have on DVD somewhere in case someone wants to borrow it), and the premier of “Hoboken Waterfront Referendum” (which doesn’t necessarily have too much to do with rent control – but will probably be a doozy for any so-called “activist.”)

Cost is $10.

Hoboken Fair Housing meeting on 8/2/2012

7/30/2012 Update:

In case you’re following the whole rent control debate between the Mile Square Taxpayers Association (anti-rent control) and the Hoboken Fair Housing Association (Pro-rent control), you might be interested to know that the latter is holding an “emergency tenants meeting” on Thursday, August 2nd.

Takes place from 6:30pm to 9:30pm at the Community Church of Hoboken located at 6th & Garden. Read more from the HFHA below.

Emergency Tenants Meeting – Thursday August 2nd

“HFHA will be holding an Emergency Tenants Meeting (that will) define strategies for action to protect Rent Control in Hoboken in the face of the anti-Rent Control initiative recently submitted to the city by the landlord group Mile Square Taxpayers Association.

IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU ATTEND THIS MEETING.

If you think it’s too much of a hassle to attend a meeting, imagine the hassle when you get a notice saying your rent is going to double, because that’s what’s going to happen IF WE DON’T ACT.

It’s time to FIGHT BACK for our right to affordable housing.”

Landlord Fritz Haas on Hoboken Rent Control

11/2/2011 Update:

This clip was produced by the Mile Square Taxpayers Association:

Hoboken Rent Control Debate set for Friday 10/28/2011

10/27/2011 Update:

Interested in hearing both sides of the Hoboken Rent Control situation hash it out? Then skip Happy Hour tomorrow night and head over to Our Lady of Grace School Hall at 5th & Willow at 7:30pm.

“The two organizations will be represented respectively by Cheryl Fallick and Dan Tumpson for Hoboken Fair Housing and Ron Simoncini and Joe Murray for Mile Square Taxpayers Association.

Ms. Fallick and Mr. Tumpson are both long-time supporters of rent control laws, since 1981. Their organization is responsible for obtaining the signatures of 3,158 Hoboken voters on a petition requesting a public referendum on the recent changes to local rent-control ordinances passed this summer by city council. This petition ultimately led to the issue being placed on the November ballot. Mile Square Taxpayers, which advocated for rent control reform, will be represented by its Executive Director Ron Simoncini and Joe Murray, a resident of Hoboken since 1982 and an owner of rent-controlled property.”

Rent Control issue rages on; some say city hall “cozy with developers”

10/19/2011 Update:

Many of you have probably already seen the many signs around town encouraging residents to vote YES on Public Question #2 during the November 8, 2011 General Elections in New Jersey.

One sign read:

“Are you aware that you are probably protected by rent control? Do you know that the city council has given in to the demands of a small group of wealthy developers / landlords to remove those protections?”

Prospective condo owners seen tearing signs down

Hoboken411 reader Scott sent in these photos of a couple tearing down the signs, and said:

“These two people were witnessed ripping down fliers supporting hoboken rent control laws… They said it was “their right” to remove them because they were against it and their right since they were posted on a telephone pole which is public property. Took place last Saturday on the 1100 block of Hudson street, while they waited to go see a condo for sale at 1110 Hudson…”

Property Owners class action lawsuit against Hoboken

2/14/2011 Update:

Class action lawsuit filed against the city of Hoboken. See the document here.

How would you solve the rent control situation in Hoboken?

Hoboken Rent Control Subcommittee meeting at 6pm

1/24/2011 Update:

For those following the drama of the Hoboken Rent Control issues in town, would probably be interested in attending a meeting at city hall tonight at 6pm.

They’ve proposed a revised city rent control ordinance – with some changes, including a two year limitation for recovering back rent.

Rent Control debate continues in Hoboken

9/22/2010 Update:

Hoboken’s Rent Control control debate is being featured on My9 news.

Dawn Zimmer appointed Rent Control Board member/tenant advocate Cheryl Fallick faced off with the lawyer for the Mile Square Taxpayers Association, Ron Simoncini.

Anchor Harry Martin moderates the four minute segment. Both Ron and Cheryl appear far more subdued that they do at a typical City Council meeting, where both are frequent (and animated) speakers.

Some feel abolishing rent control only aids developers

8/12/2010 Update:

More on the Rent Control battle here in Hoboken from Attorney Cathy Cardillo:

“It is shocking just how far some developers in City of Hoboken will go to subvert the public good and the retention of rent controls, which provide some level of affordable housing, here – just for the sake of even more profit. There have been two mass mailings to homeowners with distortions and lies to scare them into believing that these controls, in existence since 1973, are suddenly “bad” – for them and the City.

Here are the “truths”:

  • There is no “rent control disaster” in Hoboken – this is a contrived invention of some developers. The “high litigation costs,” which the developers complain about, and which as residents, you help pay – come from the developers, themselves, with at least two lengthy and costly litigation efforts, that have as, yet, to give them any measure of success.
  • Critically, the only final ruling of any court on the Hoboken Rent Control Ordinance and its constitutional application – held it to be “clear and unambiguous,” and that the Hoboken Rent Leveling & Stabilization Board was “not arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable” in following it; and this is as recent as July 12, 2010.
  • Further, there is not a “volume” of lawsuits against landlords, nor are “unscrupulous attorneys” merely “exploiting technicalities” to leverage settlements. Where a few lawsuits exist – it is, generally, because the public record disclosed, that landlord’s deliberate avoidance of the Ordinance and the charging of illegal rents to some, but not all of his tenants. It is this avoidance which subjects these landlords to State statutory penalties, not the Ordinance or the acts of the Board. A landlord who properly abides by and follows the Ordinance will never have a problem.
  • The Ordinance is not “broken;” though some changes would clarify and simplify it. The developers, though, want to have all of their past illegal rents made legal – by starting all legal rent calculations from 2007. This is “unfair,” as their tenants have no idea that they have been gouged, because they believed in and trusted the knowing misrepresentations of the developers.

This is your City – stand up against the developers’ abuse of the Ordinance for their own personal gain, and for the retention of affordable housing in Hoboken!

Cathy C. Cardillo, Esq., Attorney for CRAHH

5/8/2010 Update:

It’s obvious the City of Hoboken isn’t moving quick on this Rent Control issue – because it’s a double-edged sword. For number of landlords you’d please, the number of voting bodies you’d anger is a much larger number. So now the city is skirting the issue, claiming various complexities, and other excuses. We’ll see more about what comes from this down the roard.

But Hoboken Lawyer Frank Marciano was quoted last month in the New Jersey Law Journal about this very issue.

What is really going on here? Insider deals to reverse the law? Or timely adjustment of an out-dated restriction?

Landlords attack lax rent-control law in Hoboken

Hoboken Rent Control Class Action Lawsuit“A Hudson County judge has granted class certification to landlords of 8,000 Hoboken apartments seeking a declaration that the city’s enforcement of rent control is unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Bernadette DeCastro made the ruling on March 31 and named Charles Gormally of Roseland’s Brach Eichler class counsel.

A lawyer for Hoboken says the city didn’t oppose certification and is planning rent-control reform that would obviate the need for the litigation, DeNardo v. City of Hoboken, Hud-L-690-10.

At issue is the “Alice in Hobokenland rent control situation,” as Frank Marciano, a lawyer outside the case, describes what is happening in a housing market dominated by renters who have turned the once-gritty dockside town into a trendy address for professionals who commute to Manhattan.

“It’s like going through the looking glass into a strange world,” he says.

Under the rent-leveling ordinance that affects apartment units on the market before the mid-1980s, landlords are required to file an annual registration statement that lists the amount of rent being charged. They also must file vacancy decontrol forms to obtain approval for rent increases to new tenants.

But the administration of the process has been hit or miss, with lax enforcement of the filing requirements.

An expert in one case suggested that in a decontrol review, the landlord and the city official would “do quick calculations, nothing formal, but would let you know that, yeah, these look like good rents or there’s a problem.”

The process was called into question when some tenants became assertive about their rights. At those tenants’ requests, the Rent Leveling Board began issuing calculations based on the letter of the filing requirements. Some landlords were ordered to pay back thousands of dollars they charged in unauthorized rent increases, sometimes going back two decades.

The process was called into question when some tenants became assertive about their rights. At those tenants’ requests, the Rent Leveling Board began issuing calculations based on the letter of the filing requirements. Some landlords were ordered to pay back thousands of dollars they charged in unauthorized rent increases, sometimes going back two decades.

Last year, the landlords fought back and won a key victory. In September, Judge Shirley Tolentino agreed with the owner of a 40-unit apartment building who argued that the rent-control ordinance was unconstitutional as applied because of the haphazard administration.

“The carrying out of the meaning of the ordinance was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable,” Tolentino ruled in granting temporary restraints pending trial of the matter, Bloomfield 206 Corporation v. City of Hoboken , Hud-L-3112-07.

Gormally, who represented the landlord in Bloomfield 206 , says the class action would extend the benefit of that ruling to all landlords affected by rent control.

The city’s lawyer, Michael Kates of Kates, Nussman Rapone Ellis & Farhi in Hackensack, says the city didn’t oppose class certification because committees of the municipal council are working on legislation that would make the class action moot.

Meanwhile, a leader among lawyers who represent tenants seeking rent rollbacks and retroactive payments is challenging Tolentino’s decision in the Bloomfield 206 case.

The lawyer, Hoboken solo Cathy Cardillo, says in an appeal that the landlords’ goal is to excuse bad-faith acts of apartment owners who “knowingly avoided the ordinance for their own benefit and to profit, at the expense of the innocent tenants, by keeping their ill-gotten gains.”

The landlords’ goal is to win the grandfathering of all illegal rents and full vacancy decontrol, she argues in a motion for leave to intervene on behalf of Citizens for the Retention of Affordable Housing in Hoboken.

She argues that Tolentino’s decision is at odds with previous appellate court rulings that upheld enforcement of the rent-leveling ordinance.

It took an ethics ruling by an appeals court to make Cardillo’s appearance as counsel for the citizens’ group possible. In a previous case she had represented individuals who later emerged as parties on the landlords’ side in Bloomfield 206 and she had agreed to a settlement that would have kept her from appealing.

But Cardillo decided to renounce the agreement and sued to make it happen. The appeals panel, in Cardillo v. Bloomfield 206 Corp., A-4020-08, ruled that she could renounce the settlement and come back into the case because the settlement violated an ethics rule that prohibits restrictions on clients’ right to counsel of their choice.

Marciano, the outside observer, whose clients include landlords and tenants, suggests there is unreasonableness on both sides of the city’s rent wars. By his reckoning, some tenants deserve relief because they have been paying illegally high rents for years. At the same time, he says, it’s not fair to require landlords to pay thousands of dollars in refunds and risk bankruptcy because the city failed to enforce the filing requirements.

“The best course in these cases is for the parties to reach a reasonable settlement,” he says.

Just or Unjust?

2/4/2010:

Hoboken Rent Control Class Action LawsuitThe Mile Square Taxpayers Association has filed a class-action lawsuit against the City of Hoboken, seeking millions of dollars of damages for “unjust losses” due to what they believe are as a result of poorly managed Rent Control procedure in Hoboken.

You can see the full release below, but questions that come to mind are:

  • The Hoboken Rent Control Ordinance has specific rules and regulations that the landlords must follow to stay within compliance. Many residents I’ve spoken with, discovered that their landlords were charging much more than the stated rent on file at city hall, which is an obvious violation of the ordinance. Do you think some landlords knew that they were in violation in order to seek higher monthly payments? If so, do they deserve the rollbacks, and back payments?
  • What about landlords that didn’t understand the law – should the phrase “ignorance is no excuse” apply to them?”
  • Is rent control still fair for the buildings that are covered? You should see some of the improperly maintained dumps out there.
  • Not sure how many rent-controlled buildings are out there, but what would happen if they all return to “market” rate? Do you think rental vacancies will skyrocket?
  • Is it possible the city could be on the hook for millions? Thus further crushing any hope for reduced taxes? Or is this just a “stunt” to force the council to take action?

Press Release:

Rent Control Ordinance subject to class action lawsuit

Action builds on judge’s finding of unconstitutionality in prior suit – Damages in hundreds of millions

“Representing the owners of as many as 8,000 rent controlled units in Hoboken, a class action has been filed on behalf of property owners victimized by what a judge in a previous case called the “arbitrary and subjective” application of the rent control ordinance by city officials.

The lawsuit seeks damages, injunctive and declaratory relief against the Defendants, including The City of Hoboken, Hoboken Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board (the “Board”), Suzanne Hetman, Mayor of the City of Hoboken and the City of Hoboken Municipal Council.

“Hoboken has completely neglected its duty to fairly and competently administer its rent control law,” says Charles Gormally, attorney for the class. “Rather than follow the Ordinance or appeal to the Council to properly amend it, the Rent Leveling Board and its Administrators have improvised well beyond their authority and any acceptable legal standard. The direct damages to property owners, which were realized in the form of inappropriate rent rollbacks, fines and settlements, are in the tens of millions. However, the implied damages are in the hundreds of millions in lost property value to the entire Class.

“The sad part of this is that the Council and the Administration have been aware of the unjustness of these problems for years, and they have had ample legislative and administrative remedies but declined to use them,” says Mr. Gormally.

“The most recent three Rent Leveling Officers have testified that their policies varied and acknowledge that the retrospective application of the law left owners unable to establish legal rents, availing them to unjust losses,” says Mr. Gormally. “Judge Tolentino found the law unconstitutional in a case where the facts are operatively identical to those of the Class. Still, the City did nothing to remedy the situation. It could have stayed future rulings pending a clarification of the law or it could have awaited the conclusion of litigation that would have clarified the law. The City has done nothing of the sort, in fact encouraging additional unjust suits by providing information about technical violations to attorneys who have brought additional suits.”

“The class action describes how the Class was deprived of its rights “by the Defendants’ systematic failure to uniformly and constitutionally administer and enforce the Rent Control Ordinance” in violation of the New Jersey and US Constitutions:

For more than twenty-five years, the defendants, through inefficiency, inaction, and the administration of unwritten policies and procedures, enforced the Rent Control Ordinance in a manner inconsistent with its express language. (For example, despite that the ordinance required registration and filing of certain forms, the office accepted other evidence of conforming leases, including cancelled checks.)

However, in 2006, the defendants, despite the full knowledge of its prior policies and procedures, retrospectively changed their policies and procedures. In so doing, the defendants now enforce the Rent Control Ordinance in a manner that the plaintiffs, and the Class, are unable to comply with….This egregious retrospective enforcement of the Rent Control Ordinance violates the basic principles of due process and has resulted in an intolerable burden on the Plaintiffs and those similarly situated.

The class action points to a lawsuit the Defendants lost in 2006, when a rent calculation performed by the Administrator and affirmed by the Board in which they applied their long standing unwritten policies and procedures was overturned. The Court found that those policies were inconsistent with the precise language of the Rent Control Ordinance, and thereafter, the Board and the Administrator began to retrospectively enforce the Rent Control Ordinance in an entirely different manner than they had for the previous 25 years without regard to their long standing practices upon which the class members relied.

Due to this arbitrary, capricious and manifestly unjust change in policies, the Plaintiffs and the Class, who have relied upon the Board’s longstanding prior policies, find themselves in the untenable position of complete uncertainty of the legal rents in their properties. This arbitrary and capricious economic regulation of Plaintiffs and the Class’s property has resulted in: complete doubt and insecurity regarding the legal rent for apartments subject to rent control; exposure to significant liability to current and former tenants based on their inability to comply with the current retrospective application of the Rent Control Ordinance; exposure to liability to tenants for periods of time when the Class did not even own the property; inability to convey title to their properties without the cloud of regulatory uncertainty regarding the legality of rents that have been charged for their apartments; and the likelihood that Plaintiffs and the Class can not obtain a fair and reasonable rate of return on their investment.”

67 Responses

  1. CastlePointWatcher says:

    I can tell you one thing about this that I know for certain. That form they make you fill out each year as a landlord and mail in the $25.00 check is 100% illegal and there is NO law that requires us to do it! Ex-Tax Collector Louis Picardo told me himself. (He told everyone when asked why he doesn’t fill it out for ANY of his properties!) The whole thing is a sham.

  2. HB_Newbie says:

    OK, reality check time. Voting NO on this ballot item will NOT abolish rent control. It will simply make right what the city messed up for so many years.

    the way the law stands, someone can come into town and buy an investment property, and start charging legal rent, which for argument’s sake is $1500. Great. 2 years into owning the property, the tenant from 1990-1995 can come to him 18 years later with an attorney and say “When I lived there, the legal rent was $700 and I was paying $1000. I want my $.” Now, in many cases, the former landlord filed all the right paperwork, but it was completely mis-handled, so while he THOUGHT the legal rent was $1000, someone F-ed it up and it was documented as $700. Even the tenant thought $1000/mo was fair and paid it for 5 years.

    So he sues the old landlord, right? Wrong. he sues the current landlord, who had NOTHING to do with it. so now the current owner has to pay the old tenant the overage of $300/mo for 5 years. That’s $14,400 in overages. But wait! there’s more! NJ is a treble damages state, so he actually has to pay $43,200.

    Now is that really fair in the eyes of ANYONE?? Would YOU buy an investment property with that potential liability out there?

    the council reworked the ordinance to put a statute of limitations on these types of crazy lawsuits. It makes sense, and protects small landlords and tenants alike. VOTE NO.

  3. LobstaGirl says:

    Vote YES & stop rewarding the landlords whom commit Fraud & are STEALING your money people! If you vote no you are only telling landlords it is OK to break the law – Wake up people! The small condo/landlords are the ones that follow the laws more often than not so take a look at whom is truly behind this attempt to change the law!

    • HB_Newbie says:

      Yes, the small condo landlords are the hardest hit by these lawsuits!!!!! VOTE NO[quote comment=”211610″]Vote YES & stop rewarding the landlords whom commit Fraud & are STEALING your money people! If you vote no you are only telling landlords it is OK to break the law – Wake up people! The small condo/landlords are the ones that follow the laws more often than not so take a look at whom is truly behind this attempt to change the law![/quote]

      • HobokenVoter says:

        If the “small condo landlords” bought a number of condos for investment and broke the law tough for them. (And multiple units go over 7 figures fast so they aren’t that “small” of an investor.) A condo owner who bought the unit for his/her own use is protected under rent control regulations in this city. They can rent their unit at market value if they haven’t done so with another unit. It’s a fair compromise that protects the rental units in this town from being turned into condos in order to charge market rents while allowing a condo owner to rent their unit if they need to do so. [quote comment=”211612″]Yes, the small condo landlords are the hardest hit by these lawsuits!!!!! VOTE NO[/quote]

      • xxrjxx says:

        That assumes the rule of law is clear; evenly enforced; not capricious, arbitrary, or applied in unpredictable ways. All elements of which are currently either in existence or are threatened to be brought into existence. As well, rent control serves to do nothing but limit the amount of housing brought into the market by keeping rents artificially low and preventing an adequate return to owners of the assets. This is basic supply and demand–you want the suppliers to give you housing at below market rates, which will prevent others from engaging the market. You are shooting yourself in the foot in the long run, but you refuse to acknowledge basic, verified, and verifiable economics. [quote comment=”211637″]If the “small condo landlords” bought a number of condos for investment and broke the law tough for them. (And multiple units go over 7 figures fast so they aren’t that “small” of an investor.) A condo owner who bought the unit for his/her own use is protected under rent control regulations in this city. They can rent their unit at market value if they haven’t done so with another unit. It’s a fair compromise that protects the rental units in this town from being turned into condos in order to charge market rents while allowing a condo owner to rent their unit if they need to do so.[/quote]

    • Ventura says:

      “stealing your money”???

      Did these landlords put a gun to their tenants head and take their money?

      I just moved here. I selected a place I can afford. I agreed to the rent. I haven’t a clue if said rent is “legal” and I don’t care. I agreed to pay it and he agreed to rent for the negotiated rate. That’s all that matters to me.

      If a year from now he wants to increase it 2-fold, I will pack my bags and move someplace else. Nothing personal…it’s just business. [quote comment=”211610″]Vote YES & stop rewarding the landlords whom commit Fraud & are STEALING your money people! If you vote no you are only telling landlords it is OK to break the law – Wake up people! The small condo/landlords are the ones that follow the laws more often than not so take a look at whom is truly behind this attempt to change the law![/quote]

      • LobstaGirl says:

        When someone is knowingly over charging you for rent, this is FRAUD. Your comment “this is just business & I haven’t a clue if said rent is “legal” and I don’t care.” is completely ridiculous, if this is how you conduct business, then you are foolish and fueling the corruption. If nobody ever stood up for their legal rights, the entire country would be corrupt so why have laws to begin with? Humor me, go have a rent calculation and if it isn’t correct, do nothing and let your landlord STEAL your money. Ignorant is no way to go through life.[quote comment=”211614″]“stealing your money”???Did these landlords put a gun to their tenants head and take their money?I just moved here. I selected a place I can afford. I agreed to the rent. I haven’t a clue if said rent is “legal” and I don’t care. I agreed to pay it and he agreed to rent for the negotiated rate. That’s all that matters to me.If a year from now he wants to increase it 2-fold, I will pack my bags and move someplace else. Nothing personal…it’s just business.[/quote]

      • MidnightRacer says:

        If the subjective term “overcharging” is corrupt, then every successful business in the world is corrupt. That very term, overcharge, is without objectivity. Any business, or investment property, which operates at a profit is also corrupt. Or do you intend the even more subjective usage “how much profit”. Every business or investment property exists to maximize their profits with due diligence to its market. Or do you prefer that they undercharge (yet another subjective term). How about if they operated as a Not-For-Profit (which really means they pay themselves any difference between cost and profit and call it such)? Maybe you will settle on them making just enough to pay costs, in service to you and your entitlement.

        Perhaps you would find it worthwhile to distinguish the difference between mathematical objectivity and legal fiction (ruling subjectivity as fact). Whereas mathematical objectivity calculates sustainability (business operates), or atrophy (business shuts down), legal fiction is the antagonist to sustainability’s and operates to its demise.

        They only way to argue that someone overcharges is to rule on legal fiction, not by any mathematically objective manner. If you try to argue that someone should risk their earnings at charge just enough to carry their costs while absorbing any abnormal losses, all in order to serve another person’s unearned wants, then you argue for socially engineered systemic risk.[quote comment=”211615″]When someone is knowingly over charging you for rent, this is FRAUD. Your comment “this is just business & I haven’t a clue if said rent is “legal” and I don’t care.” is completely ridiculous, if this is how you conduct business, then you are foolish and fueling the corruption. If nobody ever stood up for their legal rights, the entire country would be corrupt so why have laws to begin with? Humor me, go have a rent calculation and if it isn’t correct, do nothing and let your landlord STEAL your money. Ignorant is no way to go through life.[/quote]

      • FlamingoShane says:

        If diversity, as it is today, is to be maintained in Hoboken, there must be a fair and balance and well administered Rent Control regime in effect. If the current regulations need tuning up, let us do that, but we don not need to change the whole thing for new regulations that are skewed to the advantage of landlords/Developers.

        If developers and reality firms are asking the public to “Vote NO” on Public Question #2, I say beware John and Jane public, vote YES on the Question #2. When it comes to Rent Control, we renters do not share common interests with Developers/landlords, and Real Estate agencies.

        Vote YES on Public Question #2! [quote comment=”211616″]If the subjective term “overcharging” is corrupt, then every successful business in the world is corrupt. That very term, overcharge, is without objectivity. Any business, or investment property, which operates at a profit is also corrupt. Or do you intend the even more subjective usage “how much profit”. Every business or investment property exists to maximize their profits with due diligence to its market. Or do you prefer that they undercharge (yet another subjective term). How about if they operated as a Not-For-Profit (which really means they pay themselves any difference between cost and profit and call it such)? Maybe you will settle on them making just enough to pay costs, in service to you and your entitlement.Perhaps you would find it worthwhile to distinguish the difference between mathematical objectivity and legal fiction (ruling subjectivity as fact). Whereas mathematical objectivity calculates sustainability (business operates), or atrophy (business shuts down), legal fiction is the antagonist to sustainability’s and operates to its demise.They only way to argue that someone overcharges is to rule on legal fiction, not by any mathematically objective manner. If you try to argue that someone should risk their earnings at charge just enough to carry their costs while absorbing any abnormal losses, all in order to serve another person’s unearned wants, then you argue for socially engineered systemic risk.[/quote]

      • MidnightRacer says:

        Sure, let’s judge people by the color of their skin, social class, and set up this engineered society to discriminate against anyone else entering the village by segregating the entitled against the free person against free movement. Let’s pretend that people who risk their earnings by investing in private property have less government representation than those who expect things given to them for their tantrums. Yes, we should pretend that private property is not private at all, but instead expect free persons to buy property and pretend it’s public property so that the government can pretend that it’s public housing. While we’re at it, let’s pretend that government is not limited against usurpation and just assume an autocracy is the way to go.[quote comment=”211877″]If diversity, as it is today, is to be maintained in Hoboken, there must be a fair and balance and well administered Rent Control regime in effect. If the current regulations need tuning up, let us do that, but we don not need to change the whole thing for new regulations that are skewed to the advantage of landlords/Developers.If developers and reality firms are asking the public to “Vote NO” on Public Question #2, I say beware John and Jane public, vote YES on the Question #2. When it comes to Rent Control, we renters do not share common interests with Developers/landlords, and Real Estate agencies.Vote YES on Public Question #2![/quote]

      • xxrjxx says:

        I’m an owner, not a landlord. But the effort to overturn an improvement on the prior rent control law is a step back in making the law workable for both landlords and renters. Vote No on Question 2.[quote comment=”211877″]If diversity, as it is today, is to be maintained in Hoboken, there must be a fair and balance and well administered Rent Control regime in effect. If the current regulations need tuning up, let us do that, but we don not need to change the whole thing for new regulations that are skewed to the advantage of landlords/Developers.If developers and reality firms are asking the public to “Vote NO” on Public Question #2, I say beware John and Jane public, vote YES on the Question #2. When it comes to Rent Control, we renters do not share common interests with Developers/landlords, and Real Estate agencies.Vote YES on Public Question #2![/quote]

      • xxrjxx says:

        Absolute horse hockey. You have a choice if you don’t like paying the rent. Rent somewhere that you agree with the rent. When someone steals from you, you don’t have a choice. To equate that to this, where you have a choice where you can live, is nonsensical. Aggressively ignorant is also no way to go through life-calling this theft is to be such.[quote comment=”211615″]When someone is knowingly over charging you for rent, this is FRAUD. Your comment “this is just business & I haven’t a clue if said rent is “legal” and I don’t care.” is completely ridiculous, if this is how you conduct business, then you are foolish and fueling the corruption. If nobody ever stood up for their legal rights, the entire country would be corrupt so why have laws to begin with? Humor me, go have a rent calculation and if it isn’t correct, do nothing and let your landlord STEAL your money. Ignorant is no way to go through life.[/quote]

      • HobokenVoter says:

        The landlords have a choice as to buy income property in Hoboken or in another town that doesn’t mind becoming a bedroom community with transient residents. If they don’t want to buy property that is subject to rent control no one is making them. They have the right to demand that the seller produce a legal rent calculation showing the legal rents for the apartments in the building they are considering buying. If they don’t feel they will make enough they can look elsewhere. Hoboken has a vested interest in keeping our population stable and our town a real community. If developers and real estate investors don’t like that they can go elsewhere.[quote comment=”211626″]Absolute horse hockey. You have a choice if you don’t like paying the rent. Rent somewhere that you agree with the rent. When someone steals from you, you don’t have a choice. To equate that to this, where you have a choice where you can live, is nonsensical. Aggressively ignorant is also no way to go through life-calling this theft is to be such.[/quote]

      • LobstaGirl says:

        This is the problem with the public, they are soooo misinformed and the laws have ALWAYS been in place and there was never an issue with this till the greedy landlords got caught cheating and now they are trying to alter the laws in their favor so that their FRAUD will be covered up. If you were overcharged rent for 5 years, they now are trying to limit you to only 2 years compensation……So, it rewards landlords for breaking the law…..No if’s and’s or but’s this is WRONG….If you like having money stolen from you by thieves then vote no but I can’t see anyone whom likes being taken for $$$$.

        For example, if your boss was withholding money from your pay and you discovered it 5 years later, would you want all the money owed to you over the 5 years? I would think so & this is the same. There are laws in place for a reason & if you don’t like them or follow them, then you are should not be a landlord or be subject to the penalties. It’s pretty simple, break the law = Get Penalized.[quote comment=”211626″]Absolute horse hockey. You have a choice if you don’t like paying the rent. Rent somewhere that you agree with the rent. When someone steals from you, you don’t have a choice. To equate that to this, where you have a choice where you can live, is nonsensical. Aggressively ignorant is also no way to go through life-calling this theft is to be such.[/quote]

      • xxrjxx says:

        This is a specious argument. You equate being charged market rates with being “overcharged”. It isn’t. Beyond this, fundamentally you’re assuming the law isn’t arbitrary; capricious; clear in its application and enforcement, none of which applies within the town of Hoboken. As well, how is it fair to pay treble damages over an unlimited number of years? There’s something to be said for the personal responsibility of the tenant to verify (if you agree with the assumption of being ‘overcharged’) the prior rent. Limiting this to a two year time frame is more than adequate and is double the amount of time provided in the vast majority of other jurisdictions in NJ.

        With regards to your comment regarding ‘overcharging’ and the ALLEGED fraud that takes place. The market rate provides a return to the owner of the asset commensurate with the risk assumed (and sometimes not). If everyone charged market rates, then you have free market competition, which keeps the rates reasonable. Where reasonable rates are charged and returns are earned, builders build more inventory, which brings more inventory into the market–we’re talking fundamental economics here. Go back to a basic economics course–the laws of supply and demand are NOT negotiable-at the end of the day, the only thing that will happen is you will raise prices on properties throughout the city, limit the amount of new rental properties, and hurt the very people you are trying to help as landlords cut back on maintenance and only do the bare minimum.

        Do your research–you will find other cities without rent control laws have lower average rental prices. You are hurting the population as a whole to subsidize those who are in rent controlled properties, and worse yet, setting up a structure where ‘those in the know’ have power to control those assets. Inevitably, you are supporting an inherently corrupt approach. Just take a look at the waiting lists for some of the properties in Hoboken right now, and how some people are able to jump to the front of the waiting list depending on whose palm they grease or who they know. [quote comment=”211647″]This is the problem with the public, they are soooo misinformed and the laws have ALWAYS been in place and there was never an issue with this till the greedy landlords got caught cheating and now they are trying to alter the laws in their favor so that their FRAUD will be covered up. If you were overcharged rent for 5 years, they now are trying to limit you to only 2 years compensation……So, it rewards landlords for breaking the law…..No if’s and’s or but’s this is WRONG….If you like having money stolen from you by thieves then vote no but I can’t see anyone whom likes being taken for $$$$.For example, if your boss was withholding money from your pay and you discovered it 5 years later, would you want all the money owed to you over the 5 years? I would think so & this is the same. There are laws in place for a reason & if you don’t like them or follow them, then you are should not be a landlord or be subject to the penalties. It’s pretty simple, break the law = Get Penalized.[/quote]

      • Ventura says:

        “This is the problem with the public, they are soooo misinformed and the laws have ALWAYS been in place and there was never an issue with this till the greedy WOMEN got caught READING and now they are trying to alter the laws in their favor…”

        Imagine someone used that same sentence to describe the women’s movement?

        Not all laws are good laws Lobsta. Come up with a better argument than…”that’s the way we’ve always done it”.
        [quote comment=”211647″]This is the problem with the public, they are soooo misinformed and the laws have ALWAYS been in place and there was never an issue with this till the greedy landlords got caught cheating and now they are trying to alter the laws in their favor so that their FRAUD will be covered up. If you were overcharged rent for 5 years, they now are trying to limit you to only 2 years compensation……So, it rewards landlords for breaking the law…..No if’s and’s or but’s this is WRONG….If you like having money stolen from you by thieves then vote no but I can’t see anyone whom likes being taken for $$$$.For example, if your boss was withholding money from your pay and you discovered it 5 years later, would you want all the money owed to you over the 5 years? I would think so & this is the same. There are laws in place for a reason & if you don’t like them or follow them, then you are should not be a landlord or be subject to the penalties. It’s pretty simple, break the law = Get Penalized.[/quote]

      • LobstaGirl says:

        Law abiding large or small Landlords whom follow the Rent Control laws do not have problems with the current law, landlords whom commit Consumer Fraud knowingly are the ones whom have the issues and the most to lose. It’s pretty obvious if you read between the lines of all the BS being slung by some out there….I would be very nervous too based on the penalties for these laws being broken by some. Then again it is NJ, the birth place of corruption, so i guess it’s just a drop in the hat and business as usual.[quote comment=”212029″]“This is the problem with the public, they are soooo misinformed and the laws have ALWAYS been in place and there was never an issue with this till the greedy WOMEN got caught READING and now they are trying to alter the laws in their favor…”Imagine someone used that same sentence to describe the women’s movement?Not all laws are good laws Lobsta. Come up with a better argument than…”that’s the way we’ve always done it”.[/quote]

      • xxrjxx says:

        LobstaGirl, are you posting under multiple avatars, or are you one of those people who believe that saying something often enough makes it true? The initial post was devoid of connection to economic reality to begin with–reposting them isn’t going to make them true.[quote comment=”212029″]“This is the problem with the public, they are soooo misinformed and the laws have ALWAYS been in place and there was never an issue with this till the greedy WOMEN got caught READING and now they are trying to alter the laws in their favor…”Imagine someone used that same sentence to describe the women’s movement?Not all laws are good laws Lobsta. Come up with a better argument than…”that’s the way we’ve always done it”.[/quote]

      • LobstaGirl says:

        xxrjxx: Anger is a sign of Guilt then just followed up with the Truth. It’s OK, I understand your position.[quote comment=”212046″]LobstaGirl, are you posting under multiple avatars, or are you one of those people who believe that saying something often enough makes it true? The initial post was devoid of connection to economic reality to begin with–reposting them isn’t going to make them true.[/quote]

      • FlamingoShane says:

        If class racial and ethnic diversity, as it is today, is to be maintained in Hoboken, there must be a fair and balance and well administered Rent Control regime in effect. If the current regulations need tuning up, let us do that, but we don not need to change the whole thing for new regulations that are skewed to the advantage of landlords/Developers.

        If developers and reality firms are asking the public to “Vote NO” on Public Question #2, I say beware John and Jane public, vote YES on the Question #2. When it comes to Rent Control, we renters do not share common interests with Developers/landlords, and Real Estate agencies.

        Vote YES on Public Question #2! [quote comment=”211614″]“stealing your money”???Did these landlords put a gun to their tenants head and take their money?I just moved here. I selected a place I can afford. I agreed to the rent. I haven’t a clue if said rent is “legal” and I don’t care. I agreed to pay it and he agreed to rent for the negotiated rate. That’s all that matters to me.If a year from now he wants to increase it 2-fold, I will pack my bags and move someplace else. Nothing personal…it’s just business.[/quote]

  4. MidnightRacer says:

    Given the nature of a government which imposes political ideals onto private property ownership, I would oppose that an buy as many buildings as I could in Hoboken to leave them empty as a write off against other revenue from a successful business. If the law is written, as it is, which forces one private person to subsidize the livelihood of another as a condition of owning “investment” property, then it makes more sense to not rent it out at all. It’s as if government forces you to provide government housing, where it cannot. It seems that government views private property as a public resource, private risk of capital as social responsibility. So why not opt out of renting out your earnings and leave it empty. Otherwise, naive tool you are.

    “I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” – J. Galt (A.R.)

  5. MidnightRacer says:

    Let’s imagine I take out a 80% loan (20% down) on a third car and my debt payments are $500/month for 60 months with maintenance fees (service, oil, etc) of $50/month. Now, I already own two cars, one for me and one for a family member. The third I can either use once in a while, or rent out as a business. Not everyone owns a car, instead they have bicycles, but they want a car. As a political platform, politicians campaign on the promise of ensuring that everyone can have a car at little cost to them, and absolutely no cost to the tax payers, and perhaps even at a loss to the one taking on 100% of the risk.

    Well, how does that work?

    Government makes it so by forcing anyone who owns an extra car as an investment vehicle to rent it out to anyone who isn’t happy with their bicycle but cannot afford the car payments the business person has taken as debt. I mean, bicycle people are entitled to have a car like everyone else, right (or shall I say left)? Okay, so let’s make it so. And of course, if the person damages the car, the owner should pay for the repair costs as a loss. The possibility exists that the owner could end up losing more than if they had just left it on the driveway. Your only incentive to rent it out is to gain a profit (cue hatred). Of course, the government, via the entitled, shouts that bicycle owners deserve that car as much as you since a bicycle is more inconvenient to their unearned wants in life. So you must provide, not as a government department operating at a loss, but as a private person risking their earnings. Should you do business, the government believes it can do this to do. Idle on a driveway makes more sense.

    Simple metaphor used to illustrate the situation here. If it makes no sense to rent out the investment properties, then I’d imagine that Hoboken, New York City, and any other high demand town to see a substantial decrease in available apartments. If people all the sudden decided to withdraw from renting out their private property, what then would or could the government and entitled do to force their ideals against another’s merit?

  6. notnow says:

    Lets be honest here. The real fraud here are the the tenants that know they are being overcharged and prefer to keep paying as if it were their piggy bank. The dirty little secret here is that every dollar a tenant knowingly over pays, will be paid back at a 300% rate of return. You tell what mutual fund or 401K can match that…. This is the real fraud.

    Voting “NO” will end this dirty little loop hole. This ordinance basically states that if your landlord is overcharging you, than you have 24 months to step up to the plate. You are still eligible for your lottery windfall, but you have the next 24 months to file. Even NJ lottery tickets have a 12 month expiration…

    This ordinance does not change a thing about rent control otherwise. It just stops this insane endless liability, despite if you only own a building for one month. Grow up and stop crying. You know deep down inside that this loophole smells and is a fraud. By fighting, your making the reasonable people that appreciate rent control look bad.

    Rent control is not bad, fraudsters that manipulate it for their own private ill gotten gains are the problem.

    Keep it moving and vote “NO”.
    Lets get rid of these ambulance chasing attorneys that are the real beneficiaries here, and posting here.

    • HobokenVoter says:

      It’s not true at all the landlords caught overcharging their tenants have to pay triple damages. For that to happen they have to be taken to court and consumer fraud have to be proven. In the few cases where tenants did get triple damages they were dragged into court by landlords seeking to keep a good part of what they illegally collected and the tenants were able to show proof that the landlords knew the legal rent and took steps to keep the tenants from finding out. Most tenants only get what they overpaid – the landlords don’t even have to pay interest on the money they illegally overcharged. [quote comment=”211618″]Lets be honest here. The real fraud here are the the tenants that know they are being overcharged and prefer to keep paying as if it were their piggy bank. The dirty little secret here is that every dollar a tenant knowingly over pays, will be paid back at a 300% rate of return. You tell what mutual fund or 401K can match that…. This is the real fraud.Voting “NO” will end this dirty little loop hole. This ordinance basically states that if your landlord is overcharging you, than you have 24 months to step up to the plate. You are still eligible for your lottery windfall, but you have the next 24 months to file. Even NJ lottery tickets have a 12 month expiration…This ordinance does not change a thing about rent control otherwise. It just stops this insane endless liability, despite if you only own a building for one month. Grow up and stop crying. You know deep down inside that this loophole smells and is a fraud. By fighting, your making the reasonable people that appreciate rent control look bad. Rent control is not bad, fraudsters that manipulate it for their own private ill gotten gains are the problem.Keep it moving and vote “NO”. Lets get rid of these ambulance chasing attorneys that are the real beneficiaries here, and posting here.[/quote]

  7. mooshu says:

    Interesting… I’ve a friend who was overcharged (ridiculously overcharged) on his rent. Brought the case to a lawyer years ago, and fought it, and he hasn’t paid rent in a few years!

  8. mooshu says:

    Know what I wish we could fight back? I wish we could kick slumlords in the balls legally when it comes to their random tacking on of surcharges… just after you ask them to please fix something in the apartment.

    But since we can’t, I just wish for the slumlords to get an agressive case of Herpes followed by diarrhea.

  9. briank says:

    The majority of economists agree that rent contol lowers the quantity and quality of housing available (Source – American Economic Review May 1992). In fact, when people wonder why NYC housing rents are so expensive, you can stop at rent control. If you squeeze a balloon, the other side gets bigger. This is what happens in NYC, where the supply of housing is so low (vacancy rates usually around 1.5-2%) and extraordinarily high rents
    In the non-regulated part of the market due te shortage caused by rent controls. How does this affect Hoboken? Everything washes over the river to here because we are an extension of the NYC market.
    The idea behind the Mt Laurel supreme court decision was that everyone has a right to affordable housing wherever they want to live. I am a pretty darn liberal person but that is hogwash. If I want to live in Alpine, NJ or Greenwich, CT I have to be successful and can’t just complain that I have a right to live there. What’s the difference between that and saying I have a right to drive a BMW and society should make sure that I can get my BMW on a Toyota salary. Hogwash.

  10. LobstaGirl says:

    If landlords have followed the law in the past, what makes it so different now to change the law? Have some just been caught and have more to lose?…….It’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?

  11. whineanddineinhob says:

    I have heard this story about Scott Siegel over and over and glad it’s finally come to light here. How this creep can appear at every council meeting, especially concerning rent control is OUTRAGEOUS. Seems all his ass kissing paid off since he’s now been assigned as this crazed mayor’s personal financial adviser. What a joke and another insult to residents, some of whom have been cheated by this sleaze ball. Would be just grand if one of the people he ripped off came to the podium at a council meeting before the election, and stated their views on this arrogant prick for viewers.

  12. Frankie says:

    If Siegel sued his own mother, would Bhalla represent him?

  13. Ron Simoncini says:

    Mile Square Taxpayers Association
    Official Position on Ballot Question 2: VOTE NO

    Summary
    Hoboken’s rent leveling ordinance has been the subject of nearly 2 years of intense scrutiny and debate, leading to a 9-0 vote by the Council to adopt an amendment (Z-88) to correct administrative and legislative issues that led a judge to conclude the ordinance was “arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional” and that the rent leveling office’s records are unreliable.

    Rescinding the Council’s action would return Hoboken to a chaotic rent control environment in which property owners would be subject to liabilities despite that they were complying with the ordinance as it was administered at the time, leading to continued litigation and a frozen market for rent control properties in Hoboken.

    Background
    The Council researched the ordinance and held 9 hearings within an 18-month time period beginning in September of 2009. Z-88 is the result of that process, during which tenants’ and landlords’ arguments were considered and helped shape the amendments that were passed by the Council unanimously 9-0. Subsequently, the Council rejected a petitioner’s motion to rescind the amendment, leading to the question appearing on the ballot.

    Amendment (Z-88) Overview
    The amendment has five essential components:

    Requires Disclosure to Tenants
    Z-88 adds an important protection for tenants, for the first time requiring that they are notified of their right to request a legal rent calculation from the rent leveling board.

    Allows Alternative Evidence
    The central problem that caused the rent leveling ordinance to be deemed unconstitutional was the requirement of a vacancy decontrol form to be on file at the rent leveling office to qualify for increases in rent. This form was never produced by the rent leveling office – rent leveling board administrators testified in depositions for a Superior Court case that they had regularly instructed property owners to note decontrols on their registration statements. More recently, the rent leveling office changed this policy, producing a form and requiring it. The Court found that landlords could not be expected to file a form that was not accepted by the rent leveling office, and the Council subsequently adopted the Z-88 amendment to re-establish the constitutionality of the law. Elementally, allowing accused persons to provide evidence in their own defense is an inalienable right. In a circumstance where the rent leveling board’s records were deemed unreliable, accepting and assessing evidence provided by landlords, who are in possession of leases that demonstrate their compliance with rent increase standards, is the intent of this Z-88 component.

    Implements Time Limits
    Z-88 provides a tenant with a 2-year period of repose to request a legal rent calculation and provides for a 2-year maximum refund of overpaid rent, which would be tripled under the Consumer Protection Act and result in 6-years of refund of overpaid rent. Rents would still be rolled-back as far as 1985 if found to be over-charged. This is the most generous return-of-rent and repose period in Hudson County.

    Empowers Rent Leveling Board Rulings
    Currently, most violations of the rent leveling ordinance result in cases in Superior Court. The Z-88 amendments provide some powers to the rent leveling board to adjudicate matters – but those powers do not exclude any party from appealing to Superior Court. In instances where the rent leveling board makes a ruling that is abided by both parties, significant legal expenses are saved by the city, the landlord and the tenant. More than $500,000 in rent control related legal fees have been borne by Hoboken in the last year.

    Creates a base year of 1985
    This is the first year record keeping of rent registration was formalized and is the earliest, although still unreliable, opportunity to assess legal rents.

    Policy and Legal Implications
    Litigation motivation
    Tenant attorneys working on contingency fees in Hoboken exploit the administrative gaps in the law and rent leveling office to create “phantom violations” in which a property owner may be charging a legal rent but is still not in compliance with the technical language of the law. Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is impossible to overcome the flaws in the ordinance — in fact, the current owner of the property is liable to return rents they did not even collect. Settlements and awards have routinely been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, with lawyers soliciting entire buildings that are then driven into bankruptcy by the findings. And, once the rent is rolled back, the buildings are virtually valueless. This is not the intention of the rent control law, and more elementally, it is unethical to knowingly take property from one person and hand it to another with no legitimate exchange of value. The single impact from the Z-88 amendment is to prevent that abuse. Z-88 does not eliminate any tenant legitimate protection, it eliminates an attorney’s windfall.

    Condo conversion manifest
    Without Z-88, property owners are encouraged to convert rental properties to condominium to avoid liabilities. This is the most serious threat to maintaining affordable rental stock in Hoboken.

    Inequitable tax burden
    Poorly functioning rent control laws further burden single-family homeowners with higher taxes (because rent control restricts income to buildings, they pay less in tax than they otherwise might). By unnecessarily and unfairly rolling back rents, single-family homeowners must pick up the burden for town expenses. By incurring increased legal expenses, single-family homeowners must pick up the burden, because rent control properties only pay tax on an income basis and their taxes cannot be increased unless their revenues are increased. =

    Threats of judicial action
    Ultimately, if Council action does not cure the problems in the Hoboken rent leveling ordinance, judges will continue to do so, perhaps naming landlords the prevailing party in a pending class action against the city which has financial implications in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Implications of poorly administered law
    The biggest problem in Hoboken is that the rent leveling office is managed in arrears rather than affirmatively. If, at the point of registration, rents were assessed for compliance by the rent leveling office there would be no need for legal rent calculations. Poor procedures and poor record keeping have resulted in poor outcomes for tenants, landlords and the city. Without the administrative capacity to mange the city’s ordinance affirmatively – which is what almost all other municipalities do – the amendment is necessary in order to establish an authoritative and functional rent leveling office, which is clearly the intent of the Council and should be the goal of any successful municipality.

    Conclusion
    Maintaining Z-88 is essential for a normal functioning rent control environment in Hoboken, as it:
    – restores constitutionality to the rent leveling ordinance;
    – overcomes unreliable record keeping by providing ability to supply alternative evidence;
    – protects tenants by providing them notice of their rights;
    – eliminates “phantom violations” that place unfair liabilities on property owners;
    – removes the title clouds from buildings, thawing the real estate market;
    – motivates property owners to maintain rental property rather than convert to condominiums ensuring greater access to affordable rental stock in Hoboken;
    – supports the public discourse, Council research, and the democratic process that took place over 18 months that resulted in a unanimous 9-0 vote to implement the amendment.

  14. camel2 says:

    Now that another special election was ordered, why not have one for the empty council seat instead of fighting it out in court? I bet that won’t happen. Too logical.

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