Is Rent Still Due May 1st? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Now that self-isolation + social distancing rules are clear in our area due to COVID-19, many of us are trying to create a new normal — working, managing a family, {maybe both}, and just trying to re-implement some normal day-to-day habits. The end of the month comes with hope for the future but also a lack of uncertainty for many residents as bills — especially rent — are due in just a few short days.

The financial state of the world and our country is constantly changing now more than ever, making it hard to know what current + future income will look like for many. While nothing lasts forever, {it’s true — we will be back to normal at some point, this is not permanent} residents across the country are getting a quick education on the new bills, orders, and laws that are being created to help us.

Updates as of May 11th, 2020 concerning rents in Jersey City

The Jersey City Council approved a rent increase freeze through August 1st, 2020.

This freeze impacts rent control buildings with five or more units built before 1987 and apartment buildings with 1-4 units where the owner does not live on-site and the building was built in 1990 or before, as well as condo units where the owner does not live on-site and the building was built in 1990 or earlier. If you’re not clear if your building is protected, call 201-547-5127.

Update as of April 25, 2020

NJ Governor Murphy has signed an executive order that allows renters to “direct their landlords to use their security deposits to pay their rents, whether that be to make up for a shortfall or to pay it in full.” Murphy added. “During this emergency, renters should have the ability to tap this deposit to help them secure their place in their home.”  The order is effective immediately and will remain in place for 60 days following the end of the public health emergency, according to the governor’s office. “We recognize the anxiety that so many feel about looming rent payments … especially with May 1st a week away,” Murphy said during his daily press briefing.

Emergency Bills to Help With Evictions

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The New Jersey State Legislature has started to advance several emergency bills to help the state cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, including one bill that placed a moratorium on evictions of homeowners amid foreclosure proceedings or evictions of rental tenants during + for up to two months after a widespread crisis.

The state Senate gave final legislative approval to this bill on Thursday, March 26th. Governor Phil Murphy signed it into law + signed an executive order to “immediately suspend” such actions.

The order will remain in effect for “no longer than two months following” the end of the state of emergency that Gov. Murphy has declared because of the outbreak.

“No one, and I repeat no one, in New Jersey should fear being kicked out of their home in an emergency,” the governor said during his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

Under the bill, banks and landlords in New Jersey could still pursue evictions + foreclosures during this time but would not be able to carry out an actual removal until the order is lifted. If you’re a Hoboken resident and a landlord is attempting to evict you or foreclose on your home, contact Caroline Caulfield from the Office of Constituent Services at ccaulfield@hobokennj.gov. And if you’re in need of rental assistance, the state of New Jersey has resources available at covid19.nj.gov — just type in “rental assistance” in the search bar to see if you are eligible.

It’s unclear whether state or federal officials will be taking any steps to help landlords who would lose revenue as a result of the governor’s order.

See More: How to Design a Cozy Home, According to a Local Interior Designer

“We simply cannot have families anxious over their health anxious about whether they’re going to lose a roof over their heads,” Gov. Murphy said. “This Order does not affect any schedule of rent that is due,” meaning that there is no official rent suspension in New Jersey. Gov. Murphy also urged New Jersey banks + lenders to “do what they can for their mortgage customers to make loan repayment much more flexible in coming weeks and months.” But, no law has been officially put in place to help New Jersey residents with mortgage relief.

Talk to Your Landlord

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Derek Reed, a representative of the state Property Owners Association, which represents thousands of New Jersey landlords, urged renters to try to pay their landlords, who he says are “one of the most crucial parts of the society by providing housing.”

“It’s critical now more than ever for landlords to get the rent,” he said. “These are really trying times but there’s more stress on these buildings.” He noted that renters should communicate any issues they foresee with their landlord, who should be reasonable during this crisis.

“It can’t just be that tenants stop paying rent. There are options landlords can work with residents on,” Reed said. “They have to look at this at a day by day basis and with this {federal stimulus} package, it’ll help folks with essential expenses and putting food on the table and other daily expenses, hopefully, that includes paying their rent.”

It’s not just residential rent that’s due soon, either. Many business owners — both small and large — are in a similar situation, with commercial rent coming up and little-to-no way of paying it as all non-essential businesses closed their doors almost two weeks ago.

The Cheesecake Factory, a highly popular restaurant chain says it will not be able to make rent payments for any of its storefronts on April 1st due to significant loss of income from the coronavirus crisis.

The company informed all of its landlords in a letter dated March 18th {below} that the extreme decline in restaurant traffic has decreased cash flow and “inflicted a tremendous financial blow” to business.

Company chairman + CEO David Overton wrote, “Due to these extraordinary events, I am asking for your patience, and frankly, your help.” He continued, “we appreciate our landlords’ understanding given the exigency of the current situation.” The letter says that the company hopes to resume paying rent as soon as possible.

Other large companies are trying to minimize the need for additional layoffs. Prudential, the Newark-based insurance company, said it will waive April rent for tenants in retail spaces around its office towers. NJ.com reported that the company is landlord to 21 storefronts, including coffee shops, dry cleaners, and retail shops in + around the Prudential buildings and about half the tenants are restaurants.

“It’s our hope that this rent relief allows you to continue paying your employees while your store is temporarily closed by municipal, state and/or federal order,” said Anthony Stivale, vice president for corporate real estate in a letter to tenants. The company said its decision to waive rent next month applies to both restaurants still allowed to provide takeout, and those stores mandated by the state to close entirely.

For NJ Homeowners

 new jersey home payments coronavirus

Gov. Murphy announced an agreement with several major banks that New Jersey property owners who are facing income loss or other crisis due to COVID-19 will be given a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments. The payments will not need to be paid back in a lump sum after 90 days, but instead will be added on to the end of mortgages. This will not impact credit rating or result in any additional late fees or added costs.

Make sure to reach out to your mortgage lender to find out how to apply for this 90-day grace period. You’ll likely need to give them a call or fill out a form on their site.

Local Support in Hoboken + Jersey City

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Locally, both Hoboken + Jersey City are tackling the upcoming rent issues head-on.

Jersey City residents are taking matters into their own hands and have started a petition to push for a freeze on rent. The petition states, “evictions and homelessness significantly worsen the threat posed by COVID-19. In order to halt widespread displacement from our homes and our jobs or businesses which would only worsen the current situation, we are calling on Governor Murphy and Mayor Fulop to immediately freeze rents, and institute a moratorium on all evictions and utility shut-offs in Jersey City.”

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla issued a press release on Saturday, March 28th, with additional updates for Hoboken residents, saying, “… we are placing on the City Council agenda an ordinance to help provide some relief. The ordinance proposes to eliminate rent increases for tenants in rent-controlled buildings in Hoboken through the State of Emergency, and in the two months after that. A few extra dollars in a tenant’s pocket during this crisis can make a meaningful difference, and I’m hopeful the City Council will support this measure.”

Mayor Bhalla also made a plea to landlords in his press release, stating, “If you’re a landlord of a tenant or small business in Hoboken, I’m making a direct ask to consider the difficult circumstances many have fallen on due to COVID-19. Please, work with your tenant to provide some relief so residents and businesses can have some peace of mind that they will continue to have a roof over their heads when this is all over.”

Update as of April 3rd:

On April 2nd, the City passed an ordinance preventing rent increases in rent-controlled buildings during the State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis. Tenants are still obliged to pay rent on a timely basis in accordance with their lease. However, landlords of rent-controlled apartments are not permitted to add a rent increase throughout the duration of the State of Emergency, and an additional two months after its completion.

Tenants or landlords with questions, including whether or not a specific apartment is rent-controlled, should call the Hoboken Rent Leveling and Stabilization Office at (201) 420-2396 ext. 2062 between the hours of 9:00Am-4:00PM, Monday through Friday, or email shetman@hobokennj.gov.

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Additional Resources

If you’re in need of additional benefits {rent-related and otherwise} here are some resources to take advantage of. If you have lost your job due to COVID-19 there are unemployment benefits available, and it’s advised to file as soon as possible.  Those who qualify for unemployment can also earn an extra $600 per week in addition to the state benefits through July 31st, 2020, due to the new stimulus package. For more information and to apply, click here.

The City of Hoboken is offering free legal services through tenant advocate Andrew Sobel, Esq. to assist Hoboken residents with issues related to their tenancies. To book an appointment with Mr. Sobel, please email hfranklin@sobelhan.com or call 201-590-2728.

So, back to the original question — do you have to pay rent? Right now, that seems to be the case. But it’s recommended to reach out to your landlord and discuss your specific situation so that you can find a scenario that works for all parties involved.

Have a rent tip you want to share? Let us know in the comments!

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Morgan is a career copywriter and copy editor with a background in small business marketing. Her professional work has been across many business verticals such as medical, web security, health + wellness, lifestyle, and consumer goods. She also had an original play produced at the Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken in June 2019. When not writing, she can be found in Sephora buying unnecessary amounts of makeup or teaching a yoga class at the Hudson Yoga Project. She works from her home office in Hoboken with her rescue dog Bowie.