Hoboken moves forward with rent control protections, Jersey City may do the same

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Following Union City’s lead, Hoboken passed the first reading of an ordinance Wednesday night halting rent hikes in the city’s rent-controlled buildings and the Jersey City Council may soon vote on a similar measure.

Photo via hudsonchamber.org.

By Corey McDonald/Hudson County View

The local legislation in Hoboken, passed during a virtual city council meeting held last night, institutes a temporary moratorium to prevent any increases in rent for tenants covered under the Hoboken’s rent control ordinance – retroactive to April 1st.

The legislation also halts additional charges for parking, pets, the use of furniture, security deposits and damage and cleaning deposits.

The moratorium will remain in effect throughout the city’s state of emergency declaration, and shall continue for two months following the end of the emergency declaration.

“Residents in rent-controlled apartments, many of whom are struggling financially due to COVID-19, now have the peace of mind that their rent will not be increased for the near future,” Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said.

“Hoboken is here to help tenants during these difficult times, and I thank Councilman Russo and Councilwoman Jabbour for co-sponsoring this important legislation.”

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.

Additionally, Hoboken’s Tenant Advocate, Andrew Sobel, will be taking phone appointments to offer free legal advice for Hoboken tenants related to their tenancy.

Union City last week introduced a full-fledged rent hike moratorium, retroactive to March 1st, during the city’s state of emergency. The legislation would also expire within two months after the public heath crisis is under control.

“Residents are facing enough hardships with this virus,” state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack said at the time. “We do not need to add insult to injury by increasing their rent and creating more of a hardship for them to overcome.”

And Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Steven Fulop, via Facebook live, said that the city may “have something on the city council agenda for next Wednesday that will freeze rent increases and make sure that there could be no late charges”

“We can’t waive rents, which is what some people have been asking – I don’t think that’s within our purview to do,” he said. “But we are going to put some protections around that.”

Jersey City Council President Joyce Watterman said those discussions are currently underway, but “it’s not completed as of yet.”

“There are so many people now who are laid off … we’re just trying to make it livable right now for everyone involved and we’re trying to do the best that we can under the circumstances,” she said.

Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ordered a halt on evictions of homeowners amid foreclosure proceedings or evictions of rental tenants during the widespread coronavirus outbreak – with a provision to uphold the measure for up to two months afterwards.

The moves come as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended daily lives for people throughout the country, and through the world.

The virus has ground the economy to a halt. Unemployment claims soared to 6.6 million last week, more than double the previous week.

As of this report, 25,590 people in New Jersey have tested positive for the coronavirus, while 537 residents have died.

In Hudson County, there have been 2,270  confirmed cases and 44 deaths reported, the New Jersey Department of Health announced about an hour ago.

“It’s a trying time for the whole country really, so we’re trying to look into how we can best serve our residents,” Watterman said. “We’re looking at every avenue possible.”

 

Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_