Rent-increase complaints on rise, city councillor says

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July 28, 2012 – 4:16am BY MICHAEL LIGHTSTONE STAFF REPORTER

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John MacDonnell, the cabinet minister responsible for the Residential Tenancies Act, said in May that reviewing rent control was not on his list of priorities. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff / File)

Minister says issue not a priority.

Provincial cabinet minister John MacDonell has said his office hasn’t received many complaints about rent increases. But a Halifax councillor says she has.

“This is an issue that has been going on since January, which I brought to the attention of the (provincial) government awhile ago,” Dawn Sloane said Friday.

At first, she said she heard from one or two people.

“Then it became four or five, then six or seven, then 20. And it keeps accumulating, in the number of individuals who are looking at these rate hikes.”

The late John Savage’s former Liberal government dissolved rent control in Nova Scotia in 1993.

MacDonnell, the cabinet minister responsible for the Residential Tenancies Act, said in May that reviewing rent control was not on his list of priorities.

“If I was getting inundated with complaints, I might consider this as a much bigger issue,” he said in the spring. “In my department, we’ve only received two or three complaints in six months.”

A spokeswoman for Premier Darrell Dexter said this week the government has no plans to resurrect rent control.

“It is not something the province is considering,” Jennifer Stewart told The Chronicle Herald.

Sloane, who represents downtown Halifax on regional council and is running in the new Peninsula North district, said many seniors, people on fixed incomes and disabled tenants need help when faced with rent increases.

Coun. Sue Uteck (Northwest Arm-South End) has also urged the NDP government to take a look at the rent control issue.

Source: TheChronicleHerald.ca

Landlords must be aware of rent control regime

Royal Gazette Online

Neil Molyneux | Published Jul 23, 2012 at 8:00 am

The objectives of Bermuda’s rent control regime are to provide tenants with security of tenure so that a court order is required to evict a tenant and also to prevent landlords from arbitrarily and unfairly increasing a tenant’s rent payments. In this column, I will address the latter objective.

Currently, residential properties with an annual rental value (“ARV”) threshold of $27,000 or less fall under the rent control regime. Previous AVR thresholds have been set at $24,000 or less, $16,200 or less and $9,900 or less.

A property can easily fall into or out of rent control, either when the threshold itself is altered, or when the ARV of a property is altered. The best way to check if a property is or has ever been rent controlled, is to contact the Office of the Rent Commissioner.

A property rented for the first time (eg a newly-constructed unit), may be rented for any amount, even if the property falls under rent control. Subsequent rent increases, whether to the same or to a different tenant, are restricted. In those cases, rent should not be higher than the rent charged to the first tenant of a rent-controlled property (even if by a previous owner/landlord) unless:

- the landlord and tenant have agreed an increase, following which the landlord has lodged notice with the Rent Commissioner, and the landlord holds a copy of such notice, duly endorsed by the Rent Commissioner, and

- the landlord has received the Rent Commissioner’s approval for an increase.

If a landlord applies for an increase to a tenanted, rent-controlled property, the Rent Commissioner consults with the tenant. If there is no tenant, then the landlord simply makes application to the Rent Commissioner, who makes the determination.

If a landlord or a tenant is dissatisfied with the Rent Commissioner’s determination, either may lodge an application for review by the Rent Commissioner. In such a case, the Rent Commissioner shall consult the Rent Increases Advisory Panel and then make his final determination.

A prospective tenant cannot agree a rent increase to a rent-controlled property. In such a circumstance, a landlord should lodge an application for increase with the Rent Commissioner.

Often a landlord does not know of the last authorised rent because the landlord is a new owner, or has simply lost track (eg with the property falling into and out of rent control over time). In the former case, a new landlord must beware if a previous landlord unlawfully increased rent, the current landlord may be penalised, even where he had no knowledge of the unlawful increase.

Contravention of rent control can result in criminal prosecution, or in a tenant’s claim for up to two years’ rent paid in excess of the controlled rent. Continue reading

Bayonne rent control advocates try for third time to overturn city’s vacancy decontrol law

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Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 12:26 PM | By Rafal Rogoza / The Jersey Journal 

 

-Rafal Rogoza/The Jersey Journal Keep Bayonne Rent Control volunteers standing by the Avenue C ShopRite Wednesday afternoon collecting petition signatures.

BAYONNE — Bayonne rent control advocates are hoping third time’s a charm as they mount another effort to overturn a city ordinance that allows landlords to move some units out from under rent-control protections.

“We are currently circulating petitions asking registered voters in town to agree to allow all of the people of Bayonne to make the final decision on this matter,” Douglas Wasama, chairman of Keep Bayonne Rent Control, said in a press release. “That’s the democratic way.”

The dispute began in November 2011, when the city passed a vacancy decontrol ordinance that allows landlords to remove an apartment from rent control restrictions if the tenant willingly moves or is legally evicted. Prior to the change, the units would remain under rent-control guidelines forever.

The first petition to repeal the ordinance was submitted on Dec. 5 but was declared invalid by City Clerk Robert Sloan because the petitions did not have each name of the five-member committee listed on every page of the petition. Continue reading

Try, try again

Hudson Reporter

Activists want public vote on alternate rent control ordinance

by Al Sullivan, Reporter staff writer | Jul 18, 2012
HERE WE GO AGAIN – After trying to bring the rent control issue to the ballot twice earlier this year, advocates to preserve rent control have found a possible new route. Read more: Hudson Reporter – Try try again Activists want public vote on alternate rent control ordinance.

Taking a lesson from the children’s story about the little engine that could, rent control advocates who opposed to changes made by the City Council late last year are seeking to put the matter on the ballot in November.

The City Council passed an ordinance last November that would abolish rent control once current residents moved out of a currently rent controlled apartment. Opponents of the measure sought to put the matter on referendum several times earlier this year, but failed to meet the legal requirements for proper notice on petitions or to obtain the minimum requirement of signatures.

Saying that they have a new lease on life, the rent control advocates are taking a different approach and will seek to propose their own ordinance.

“This is similar to a referendum in that it would put this up to a public vote,” said Bayonne City Clerk Robert Sloan. “But in this case, they would have to draft their own ordinance.”

This ordinance would be presented to the City Council, and then if the group has enough valid signatures, it would go on the ballot in November. Continue reading

Montgomery County Executive Leggett proposes 11-point renters plan

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Short of rent control, proposal seeks more transparency

by Kate S. Alexander,  Staff Writer | Wednesday, July 18, 2012

As the Montgomery County Council discusses renter rights, County Executive Isiah Leggett has offered an 11-point plan to strengthen the county’s voluntary rental guidelines.

Leggett (D) opposes rent control because it could stifle economic development and limit affordable housing stock.

Still, he said he believes changes are necessary to better serve renters.

Leggett’s plan comes as the county’s Planning Housing and Economic Development committee continues discussions of rental issues, during which Councilman Marc B. Elrich floated the idea of rent stabilization.

“I feel it is not wise to pursue that effort,” Leggett said of rent stabilization, adding “but I do believe there are things we can do.”

Leggett’s proposal would not prevent large rent increases, but rather make increases more transparent. It would give tenants more warning, justification for increases and time to find alternative housing, he said.

Mandatory reporting of rent increases, unit by unit, would be required under Leggett’s plan, as would enforcement of existing fines of up to $1,000 for landlords who do not submit a required rental survey. Data collected by the survey would be published on the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) website. Continue reading

Santa Monica Council to Consider Rent Control Law Change

 

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By Lookout Staff

July 17, 2012 – As part of an unusually light agenda, the City Council on Tuesday will consider changing Santa Monica’s Rent Control law for only the third time in more than 30 years.

The proposed charter amendment would replace the General Adjustment (GA) formula the Rent Control Board uses to calculate how much landlords can raise rents on rent-controlled units annually.

The new formula would allow landlords to raise rents based on 75 percent of the regional Consumer Price Index (CPI), instead of basing it on a complex formula that can change from year to year depending on landlord expenses.

Landlords argue that 75 percent is not a fair return, but prefer the simpler formula.

If the council accepts the change recommended by the Rent Board, the charter amendment would be placed on the November ballot, making it the third such change since voters approved Rent Control in 1979.

West Hollywood, another major rent control area, also uses 75 percent of CPI for their GA, according to Rent Board officials.

Using the current formula, Santa Monica landlords were allowed to raise rents by 77 percent of CPI, an increase Rent Board officials said reflected the “improved cash-flow owners are experiencing as a result of vacancy decontrol.”

Last year, nine out of ten landlords had rented at least some of their formerly rent-controlled units at market rate, officials said.

Under the 1994 Costa-Hawkins Rental Act, which went into full effect in 1999, owners of rent-controlled units are allowed to raise the rent to market rate when a unit is voluntarily vacated or the tenant is evicted for non-payment of rent.

The general adjustment, however, caps the percentage a rent can be increased.

 

Source: The LookOut News

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Ask Your Government: Why doesn’t North Dakota institute some form of rent control?

“The short answer is that rent controls are illegal in North Dakota as per state law.”

By: Teri Finneman, INFORUM | Published July 14, 2012, 11:30 PM

 

Dear Teri,

I have heard that the city of New York, and I am assuming other areas as well, have pricing regulations on real estate property, such as rent or housing. Am I correct in this? If so, what is preventing some pricing controls from taking effect in the Oil Patch counties? Thank you. Sincerely,

Craig Kappel

Dickinson, N.D.

Thanks for writing! I could have asked a variety of people to respond to this. I settled on four state senators with an interest in this topic and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.

I’ll start with Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, and his response:

“The short answer is that rent controls are illegal in North Dakota as per state law.

“However, citizens asked me to sponsor legislation establishing rent controls similar to controls in place in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, these same citizens were reluctant to be public about their request, fearing retribution from their landlords and elected officials who saw rent controls as limiting immediate high profits available because of the oil boom.

“Simplistic statewide rent control in the form of a law that makes rent increase illegal does not make sense. But giving authority to cities to limit the amount of increase to the rate of inflation makes sense. It gives the control to local authorities with a practical economic parameter.

“The main point, though, is that energy development in North Dakota has an upside and downside. Where there is a downside, like escalating rents that put people into the street and price gouging, government needs to act.

“This includes developing more housing projects, placing expectations on the energy industry to share the wealth and giving cities the tools to manage housing policy for their citizens. Rent control can be one of those tools for some cities in crisis.” Continue reading

Some buildings may come off rent control

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Proposal will either go to City Council or voters

by Stephen LaMarca | Reporter Staff Writer | 07.15.12 – 12:05 am

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A property owners’ group has petitioned for a measure lifting rent control from certain Hoboken apartments, and the City Council must decide whether to hold a special meeting to schedule a public hearing on the proposal or let the voters cast their ballots on a referendum question this November.

City Clerk James Farina informed the council on Wednesday night that a petition circulated by the Mile Square Taxpayers Association (MSTA), a nonprofit alliance of property owners, has acquired enough signatures to force the council to take action on it.

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If approved, the proposed changes would remove certain rent control restrictions that have been a mainstay of Hoboken apartments since the early 1970s.

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“Obviously, nobody is playing fair.” – Ron Simoncini
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The amendment would remove rent control completely for new tenants moving into condos or buildings with four or fewer rental units. For all other buildings, the amendment would allow landlords to raise the rent by any amount when a current tenant moves out. However, the new rent would be subject to rent control laws after that. Currently, landlords can apply for a “vacancy decontrol” of 25 percent every three years or longer, when a tenant moves out.

The city’s longstanding Rent Control Ordinance, passed originally in 1973 and slightly amended several times since then, limits annual rent increases to a few percent a year, depending on federally decided cost of living increases. There are exceptions to allow landlords to make a profit if they upgrade the building, but any major changes to the law have been fought by tenant advocates in the last 40 years. Continue reading