The battle over restrictions on short-term rentals continues in Hoboken. Councilperson-at-Large Emily Jabbour is co-sponsoring an amendment to City Code Chapter 155 that would prohibit short-term rentals in rent-controlled properties.
“There are a number of ways that local legislation hasn’t kept up with what’s happening in the world, especially with the increasing popularity of Airbnb and other apartment sharing applications. This topic has been on my mind since Jersey City passed legislation in 2019 to address the proliferation of Airbnb units there,” Jabbour said in a statement.
A short-term rental is defined as a unit for occupancy by someone who isn’t the unit’s owner/permanent resident for a period of less than 28 consecutive days. Two common platforms used for this type of rental are Airbnb and VRBO. The existing rent control legislation limits its application to some properties. The proposed amendment states that: “Any dwelling unit otherwise subject to the provisions of this chapter shall be prohibited from utilizing said property for short-term Rentals. Any rental of a dwelling unit subject to this Chapter for a period that is longer than twenty-eight consecutive days shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter. Penalties for violations of this Section shall be $500 for first offense, $1,250.00 for second offense, and $2,000 for every offense thereafter. Each day that a unit is rented in violation of this chapter shall be considered a separate offense.” The city will direct the proceeds of all fines to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Jabbour added, “Most recently, it was brought to light in Hoboken when it was reported that Councilperson DeFusco had rented his apartment 23 times using Air BnB, taking advantage of this very loophole for rent-controlled apartments and highlighting the need for reform on this important issue.”
It was noted that DeFusco’s Airbnb profile shows that residents of multiple states had stayed at his Hoboken apartment since August 2020, which was still during COVID-19 travel restrictions.
In April, DeFusco told TapInto that the short-term rentals lasted only “a few days in duration” and that he followed all guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jabbour added, “This Council regularly talks about the need to increase affordable housing. I believe we should also be examining the ways that we can protect the affordable housing stock we already have. This is a prospective change that gives all residents the opportunity to know better and do better to protect the city’s affordable housing inventory. It is never too late to step up and do more to find ways to preserve the affordable housing stock that already exists, in addition to finding ways to expand those options. Both should be true.”
The city council members are divided over the proposal that would bar the owners of rent-controlled apartments from using them for short-term rentals like Airbnb, with Jabbour, Cohen, and Doyle on the side of moving forward with the ordinance and closing the loophole.
On the opposing side of the proposal are Council President Ramos, Vice President Giattino, and Fisher.
“I’ve been a vocal advocate for affordable housing my entire career and it’s personally offensive that my colleagues are spending time on a political attack while people are struggling,” Ramos said in a statement.
“I am in no way against thoughtful legislation that creates oversight on short-term rentals, similarly to what Jersey City has enacted, but that’s not what we’re being asked to vote on here,” DeFusco said.
Mayor Bhalla is supportive of any legislation that protects and preserves Hoboken’s affordable housing inventory, including the recent proposal introduced by Councilmembers Jabbour and Doyle according to spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri.
The council will consider the ordinance on a first reading Wednesday evening on June 16th.