As owners in New York City breathed a sigh of relief as Republicans gained clear control of the New York State Senate, owners in Bayonne, New Jersey celebrated a victory as well. Despite strong efforts by tenant advocates, the referendum to end vacancy decontrol in Bayonne failed once again in the November 4th elections. Approximately 58% voted in favor of maintaining vacancy decontrol and ended a two-year long battle by the Bayonne Tenant’s Organization.
Three years ago, Bayonne adopted vacancy decontrol and allowed property owners to apply to have units in their buildings removed from rent control if a tenant willingly moves or is evicted. Tenant advocates immediately petitioned against the law on the November 2012 ballot, but came up short. However, Bayonne will allow this petition to keep appearing on ballots every two years as long as 10 percent of the number of voters from the previous election sign the petition. Back in April, tenant advocates collected nearly 2,000 signatures that allowed the initiative to appear on this November’s ballot. Tenant advocates have already promised to keep the battle going and will seek to end vacancy decontrol in November 2016.
Unfortunately, owners throughout the country were not able to feel the same sense of relief as owners in New York City and Bayonne did. On Election Day in Santa Monica, California, residents voted in favor of Measure FS, which will give the local Rent Control Board the opportunity to discuss and possibly raise the Santa Monica Rent Control registration fee to $288 per unit per year from $174.96. Property owners will now be responsible of paying half of the fee with their tenants. Prior to the vote, the law allowed the Board to authorize owners to pass through 89 percent of the registration fee to their tenants.