Real estate, especially the cost of rent, is always a hot topic in Hoboken. Recently, rent has been in the headlines for a variety of reasons – rent increases, rent control, new legislation to name a few. With everything going on, the team here at The Hoboken Girl wanted to provide the most recent updates on policy changes as well as resources for renters here in the Mile Square. Read on for more information about rent control legislation updates in Hoboken.
A February 2023 change to Hoboken’s rent laws drew attention for two reasons. First, two groups who were common opponents were united in their opposition: the Mile Square Taxpayers Association and the Hoboken Fair Housing Group. Second, what was most controversial was not the proposal to lower the maximum allowable rate of rent increase, but the ‘vacancy decontrol’ provision.
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This is a circumstance when a tenant of three years or more vacates the rent-controlled apartment, the landlord gets a one-time chance to bring the rent up to market value, capped at a 25% increase. At the time, a proposal was made to change the provision from a one-time increase capped at 25%, limited to the expiration of a tenancy of three years or more to a one-time increase of 10%, limited to tenancies of five or more years.
Another layer that makes this aspect tricky is exactly how the rent would be calculated on a unit that had essentially fallen out of cycle with the market. This is where terms like ‘base rent’ and ‘legal rent’ come in to play. After a 5-4 vote, the Council voted to have the rent be calculated based on the last rent paid, rather than the October 1, 1985 rent as stated in the statute.
Councilmember Phil Cohen said that the vacancy decontrol issue was subject to a lot of hostile feedback. “The final resolution was to lower the maximum allowable rate of rent increase, but to leave the vacancy decontrol provision alone,” he said. “Even though there had be discussions about lowering the maximum allowable rate of increase from 7.5% to 4%, or the CPI, whichever is lower, the end result was a 5% limit, or the CPI, whichever is lower.” [Editor’s note: the CPI is the Consumer Price Index which changes from year to year, but is typically between 4-8%}
The Hoboken Girl has reached out to both the Mile Square Taxpayers Association and the Hoboken Fair Housing Group and will update this piece if we get a response.
Bhalla Speaks Out
In a press release on April 11th, Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla called out the Bozzuto Group, a commercial real estate group that owns several multi-family properties in Hoboken, for its ‘unconscionable’ rent hikes. Some Bozzuto buildings in Hoboken include the Artisan, Park + Garden, and the Bexley, and residents reported rent increases of up to 30 percent.
“While market conditions have impacted both landlords and renters in various ways, the city is committed to creating and maintaining affordable housing through our local ordinances, to help prevent displacement whenever possible,” said Mayor Bhalla. “While I appreciate that a number of landlords are working cooperatively with tenants to help achieve this goal, rent increases in certain buildings of up to 30 percent are completely unreasonable and unconscionable, and only serve to price residents out of their apartments and residences. I’m directly asking the Bozzuto Group, as well as any and all landlords considering massive rental hikes, to show some compassion and decency and work with existing tenants on rates that are reasonable and appropriate.”
Rent Control Resources
Social media platforms and group chats all over Hoboken have been lit up with hard conversations and shocking revelations about landlords increasing rents. Here at HG we’ve gotten letters to the editor, DMs, emails and more asking what readers can do about these difficult rent situations. The underlying dilemma is the same: I love Hoboken and want to stay here, but I can’t afford to if this rent situation doesn’t change.
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In July 2022, a group of residents at The Rivington worked together to push back on rent increases. According to Patch, the building was subject to rent control, despite issuing rent increases of 20 to 30%. Residents worked with the Hoboken Rent Leveling Office to confirm the rent control provisions that they were entitled to.
Hoboken Tenant Advocate: The City of Hoboken offers free legal advice for tenants through the law firm of Sobel & Han. Attorney Andrew Sobel is Hoboken’s Tenant Advocate. Tenants should prepare a brief summary of the issue and contact Sonia Claudino at 201-590-2728 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment with Mr. Sobel.
Rent Leveling and Stabilization Office: This office is where nearly every relevant piece of information regarding residential properties in Hoboken is kept. The team that staffs this office can help residents find historical information about the building, registration information for the unit or the landlord, and a variety of other information.
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