Ordinance allows removal of rent control for new leases in Little Ferry

 

LITTLE FERRY – The Little Ferry Mayor and Council have amended Chapter 15 of the Code of the Borough, which will allow the removal of rent control for new apartment leases in the borough.

At the April 9 meeting, the council voted to pass this ordinance which allows apartment owners to charge the appropriate amount that the market dictates for their apartments. This is covered under section 9 in the Code of the Borough of Little Ferry, which was added by the mayor and council.

Mayor Mauro Raguseo cited the borough experiencing a 1.75 percent decrease in its valuation from 2012 to 2013, which is approximately $20 million as a reason for the new ordinance.

“Having a moderate rent control policy, which the proposed ordinance is, brings forth the opportunity for the apartment owners within the borough to realize more value for their investment. Higher valued property in Little Ferry is good for the community as a whole,” said Raguseo.

The ordinance will not affect any current tenants in apartments, only those who move into a previously vacated unit. According to section 15-2.2, “any rental increase at a time other than at the expiration of a lease or termination of a periodic lease shall be void.”

Those who already live in apartments in the borough can continue to renew their leases without being subject to a rent increase. Tenants with leases of less than one year and those who rent on a month-to-month basis will also not be affected and cannot be subject to eviction “in order to create a market-rate unit,” as described in the ordinance.

“The ordinance protects all current tenants while allowing the property owner to secure future earnings on their investment,” said Raguseo. “An apartment will only be free of rent control when the current tenant vacates the apartment. Current tenants need not worry about having their rent increased to market rate. The council made sure the ordinance is clear and that current tenants are protected.”

Raguseo also stated that the appeals process has not changed and that resident can still file an appeal with the Rent Leveling Board if a landlord does try to raise their rent illegally.

The ordinance also requires the property owner to notify the Rent Leveling Board when a unit becomes a market rate unit, as well as a report due by Jan. 31 on the number of units in each building that are subject to rent control and as well as the number of apartments that are market rate.

 

Source: North Jersey.com

University of Regina economist says rent control policies bad idea

 

By Terrence McEachern, Leader-Post

REGINA — A Regina economist is cautioning that recent calls for rent control legislation is not the best way to deal with the availability of affordable rental units.

“The short answer — not really,” said Jason Childs, an associate professor of economics at the University of Regina. He explained rent control legislation can be divided into two types — those that set a cap on rent and those that control rent increases gradually.

Jason Childs, associate professor of economics at the University of Regina, argues rent control policies could have negative impacts on the people they are designed to help. Instead, he says social housing and subsidies to low-income renters should be considered. Photograph by: Don Healy , Regina Leader-Post

Regardless of the type, Childs argues rent control legislation doesn’t help the people it is supposed to help. He said in places with rent controls, there is a tendency for tenants to hold onto low-rental units even if their economic situation improves. Childs cites actress Faye Dunaway as an example of someone who lived in a rent-controlled apartment in New York City for several years before finally vacating.

“If you’re already in an apartment, you’re golden. If you’re trying to find one, you’re out of luck,” he said. “The distribution of the effects of this policy is really, strongly negative for younger folks and new arrivals. So, we’re going to be protecting established residents at (their) expense.”

Childs also argues rent control legislation would negatively affect the quantity of rental units. Developers would be faced with a disincentive through the introduction of uncertainty in terms of demand and the ability to make a profit in the rental market.

This is combined with a quality problem with rent-controlled units.

“Basically, if you control the rate at which I can increase the rent … (and) if I’m not making money at this, I’m going to let maintenance slide,” he explained.

The issue of rent control arose earlier this week when a group of tenants living at 2221 Robinson St. spoke out about approaching monthly rent increases as high as 77 per cent on Sept. 1. Many have said they would rather move than pay the monthly rent increases — in some cases — from $675 to $1,195 for a two-bedroom apartment.

On Tuesday, the matter reached the floor of the Saskatchewan legislature during question period when NDP MLA David Forbes argued for rent control legislation in light of the Robinson Street situation.

However, Childs argues more social housing and subsidies to low-income renters are better ways to approach the issue.

In terms of the Robinson Street rent hikes, Childs admits 77 per cent is a huge monthly rent increase and that he has sympathy for the tenants, but also questions the fairness of tenants receiving a reduced rent when young people and new arrivals to the city are paying market value.

“This is less than a zero-sum policy,” he said. “Society as a whole loses.”
Source: Leader Post

Challenge to Hoboken Rent Control Initiative Gets Court Date

 

By Daniel Reyes/The Jersey Journal

Arguments by a group of property owners to overturn the Election Day vote that rejected their rent-control ballot initiative will be heard in Superior Court in Hudson County.

The initiative, which was voted down, 8,248-to-8,196, in November, would have exempted buildings with four or fewer units, as well as all condo units, from rent control guidelines. The group of 15 property owners, represented by attorneys Charles Gormally and Sean Smith of Brach Eichler, filed a challenge to the Nov. 6 election result in early December. The court will hear their challenge on Jan. 22.

Arguments by a group of property owners to overturn the Election Day vote that rejected their rent-control ballot initiative will be heard in Superior Court in Hudson County.

Cheryl Fallic, a spokeswoman for the rent control advocacy group Hoboken Fair Housing Association, appeared at a hearing Friday with two motions aimed at quashing the property owners’ request to allow votes that weren’t counted in the election. Both motions were denied.

The votes which Gormally and Smith claim were wrongfully rejected include 92 absentee ballots that would be more than enough to change the outcome of the ballot initiative, which was decided by 52 votes.

“I can’t believe they denied (the two motions),” said Fallic after the hearing.

Fallic described the plaintiff’s case as “flimsy” adding that while she and her supporters were still digesting the news, an appeal of Friday’s ruling wasn’t out of the question.

Gormally understood Fallic’s concern, but felt that due to situations surrounding the election, specifically Superstorm Sandy, taking another look at votes that weren’t counted is “common sense.”

Gormally pointed out that a group of ballots postmarked before Election Day weren’t counted, even though the deadline to vote had been extended to Nov. 9 due to the storm.

He also cited hundreds of people who did not receive absentee ballots until Nov. 9 due to the storm.

“The confusion surrounding the whole process merits consideration,” said Gormally.

 

Source: NJ.com

A Landlord’s Uphill Fight to Ease Rent Regulations: The “Madison Group”

By Craig Mordoh, Esq.

On July 11, 2012, representatives from various residential rental property owner groups from across the nation met at the distinguished Cato Institute to begin the process of formulating a strategy to place a constitutional challenge to rent control land – rent stabilization laws before the United States Supreme Court.

This effort is the brainchild of James Harmon, a former prosecuting attorney who gained some recent notoriety in the landlord community by mounting a one-man challenge to the New York Rent Stabilization Law that almost made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

After an unsuccessful two-year battle to evict a tenant, who could well afford to live anywhere, Jim decided to challenge the constitutionality of the rent law itself. Making a sympathetic plaintiff, Jim received much favorable press coverage and the assistance of many prominent amici curiae; however, after a number of good signs that the Supreme Court might decide to hear his case, the court ultimately chose not to.

Beaten, but not defeated, Jim decided to try and find a way to challenge not just the New York Law, but rent control laws everywhere.  Currently rent control in some form exists in relatively few places, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington D.C. and California. Many other states have laws or court’s rulings prohibiting rent control. In one famous instance, the voters of the State of Massachusetts voted to eliminate rent control throughout the state. Amazingly, the elimination of rent control in that state created no upheaval in the tenant community and improved the housing stock in those cities that now had a newly-created free market.

The first step in Jim’s plan was to find the commonalities in each of the laws. For instance, not every law has a state-wide enabling legislation, but every law limits the right to evict tenants.

Other potential areas of inquiry include:

What does a new-construction exemption say about the need for rent control and its effect on the housing market?

Does the emergency situation which formed the rationale for every rent control law still exist after all these years?

If yes, does it still create a lawful basis for rent control and what does its existence say about the efficiency of rent control?

Must an owner have the right to   recapture their property?

Once the commonalities are identified, chose the one susceptible to the strongest legal challenge and the file that single-issue Federal lawsuit in each of the rent control localities. This would result in rent control challenge in five different federal circuits. It is anticipated that the appellate level would require a review by the Supreme Court.

I attended this meeting on behalf of the California Apartment Law Information Foundation as well as the Apartment Associations of Greater Los Angeles. In addition, there were representatives of the National Apartment Association, the Institute for Justice, New York University School of Law and representatives from local owner’s groups from all of the affected jurisdictions.

The attendees were dunned the “Madison Group” in honor of James Madison, our fourth President, who stated “commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive, and impolitic.” This may be the most concise, yet accurate, description of rent control ever.

Following the meeting, the enthusiasm of the participants was high and a follow-up national teleconference was scheduled for September. CALIF and AAGLA will continue to participate in this effort and provide periodic reports to this magazine.

Mordoh is Senior Attorney of the California Apartment Law Information Foundation (CALIF). Since its inception, CALIF has pursued its dual goals of providing an informational base for landlords and tenants on the workings of landlord-tenant law in California and challenging state and local municipalities when they take actions that infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed property and civil rights of California residents. CALIF is qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions under IRC Section 501(c)(3).

 

Source:  Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles

It’s Not Over Till It’s Over: Rent Control Supporters Vow to Continue the Fight

 

by Al Sullivan

Although voters rejected an effort to maintain rent control by 121 votes, supporters of rent control said they are reviewing their options and will seek to put the question back on the ballot if legal options do not prevail.

With nearly all of the votes counted from Nov. 6, the effort to retain rent control was narrowly defeated with 51 percent to 49 percent of the vote.

County elections officials certified the vote on Nov. 17, and this allows the city to gradually phase out rent control in Bayonne.

The council approved changes to rent control in November 2011 that would allow landlords to opt out of rent control once current tenants move out.

Rent control supporters tried twice earlier this year to have the matter put up as a referendum, and then when those attempts failed, they used another approached the imitative which successfully allowed the matter to be put on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Ed Gilligan, spokesperson for the Bayonne Tenants’ Association, said he was disappointed by the result, but that the group has not given up.

“We’re reviewing our legal options,” he said. “If we have to, we will go out and get more signatures and put it on the ballot again. In Hoboken, they did it twice. The first time they were swamped, but they got organized and won. We weren’t organized and we only got 49 percent of the vote.”

__________
“I think maintaining rent control is where the sympathies of Bayonne people lie.” – Ed Gilligan
_________
Course of action

The Bayonne Tenants’ Association was seeking to preserve rent control in the city after the council voted to do away with it in November 2011, as part of an effort to spur redevelopment in the city.

“I think we were fair in what we did,” said Councilman Ray Greaves. “I didn’t like the first ordinance that we saw [in July 2011], which didn’t protect the people living there. But the changes we voted for do, I think are fair to both landlords and tenants and will help landlords reinvest in their properties, knowing that they will get a fair return on their property.”

The vote results from Nov. 6, which were delayed because of Hurricane Sandy, lets the city council changes remain. These would allow properties to drop rent control once the residents living in them currently leave.

“I don’t think this lost because of the hurricane,” Gilligan said. “Outside groups and the city spent a lot of money to defeat our ordinance that would have kept the old rent control in place. We spent very little and we still got 49 percent of the vote. I think maintaining rent control is where the sympathies of Bayonne people lie. They do not sympathize with out-of-town political operatives who came in here to get rid of it.”

Unlike traditional referendums which would have not allowed the Bayonne Tenants’ Organization to seek another election on the measure for three years, the method they used has no limitation.

“We can put it back on the ballot as soon as we get enough signatures again,” he said.

Gillian said he and his group will likely start a public education campaign ahead of the next round in this battle to preserve rent control.

“I think the next time we can win this,” he said.

Source: Hudson Reporter

India Considers Easing of Rent Control Laws

Modifying rent control act would ease housing shortage

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS India Private Limited – Sat 22 Sep, 2012

 

New Delhi (IANS)- To help bridge the housing shortage of over 18 million units, the government is planning to modify the rent control law to encourage owners to rent out their homes.

Stating this at a press conference to release a panel report on urban housing shortage, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Selja said she has “discussed with state governments the need for a relook at the archaic rent control act”. This would help bring about 11 million houses lying vacant into use for occupation. “Mutual contract should be effective in settling the rent,” the minister said.

Another proposal is to include the builder lobby in constructing houses for the poor sections, which would help bridge the housing shortage for the economically weaker sections – at over 10 million, and the lower income group – at over seven million.

“Housing should be made part of the infrastructure sector or declared an industry,” Selja said, adding that it should be made lucrative for the construction lobby to build houses for the weaker sections.

Another proposal is that houses that are over 80 years old – 2.2 million – should be shifted to new units.

Another proposal is to address congestion – of a married couple having perforce to share a room with another adult due to shortage of space. The 15 million households facing congestion would be enabled to “create extra space or build extra rooms through support from public agencies”.

 

Source: Indo Asian News Service

 

 

College Park suspends rent control law

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New task force will spend year looking for ways to resolve rental housing issues

by Holly Nunn, Staff Writer | Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The College Park City Council voted Tuesday to stop enforcement of the city’s controversial rent control law for one year while the city works with landlords to resolve challenges in the rental housing market.

The council passed an ordinance to extend the law for one year, but then passed a resolution to suspend enforcement of the law until September 2013.

“This gives us one year to explore different ways to get at the same issues the rent stabilization ordinance was meant to address,” said Councilman Patrick Wojahn (Dist. 1), who introduced the resolution to suspend enforcement of the law.

Some of the issues to be addressed, Wojahn said, include stabilizing the rate of owner-occupied homes in the city, public safety issues and code enforcement. The city has contended that renter-occupied homes lead to more code violations than owner-occupied homes.

While the ordinance — which caps rents for single-family homes and duplexes, but not for apartments or fraternity and sorority houses — was passed in 2005, it was not enforced until 2010, when it was upheld in court after a challenge from property owners. Continue reading

Voters Could Change Rent Control Law

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Santa Monica Rent Control Board asks City Council for a charter amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot that would simplify formula used to calculate yearly rent increases.

By Jenna Chandler | June 29, 2012

Santa Monica voters could be asked to simplify the method used to calculate yearly increases to rent paid by tenants of rent-controlled units in the city.http://blog.rsanyc.net/property-rights/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/santamonica1.jpg

In a 4-0 vote Thursday night, the Rent Control Board recommended to the City Council that it place a charter amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Each year the board approves rent increases designed to cover the costs a landlord pays to maintain their properties, such as property taxes, utilities and business license fees.

If ultimately approved by voters, the formula used to determine how much rent should increase would be equal to 75 percent of the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index, the federal government’s tool for measuring inflation rates.

“Going to a 75 percent of CPI is somewhat tried and true, it’s really just following the lead of several of our sister cities,” said Rent Control Board member William Winslow.

For the past 30 years, the board has calculated the increases using a formula that involves surveying landlords to find out how much and in what areas their expenses have increases and weighting those components based on local median rents.

“Santa Monica is the only city with rent control in the state using this methodology for determining what the general adjustment should be,” Winslow said. Continue reading