A Hoboken tenant for over three decades is fighting back against his landlord, who is seeking a roughly $3,000 rental increase as part of a prolonged court battle.
“The ultimate issue in this case is whether the landlord on this property received a just and fair return in his investment because that is what he is untitled to under the constitution,” said Dana Wefer, counsel to Jeff Trupiano in the matter, said in a sit down interview last week.
“And that’s been this issue in this case from the beginning, but it’s gotten very confused and very chaotic because the landlord has assisted – that as part of this fair return – he’s entitled to his fair return at equity.”
She continued that the Hoboken rent control ordinance does not allow equity to be applied in this type of scenario.
Trupiano, who has lived at 703 Park Ave. since 1991 and earns less than $30,000 a year, has been stuck in litigation with his landlord since 2017.
According to court records, Amaconn Realty, Inc. purchased 703 Park Ave., the building where Trupiano lives, and spent about $1 million on renovations in 2001 – a figure that Trupiano disputes since his home has an exterior heater in the kitchen, no central air, and a broken smoke detector, among other issues.
He and Amaconn have traded wins through both the rent leveling board and the courts for years and the matter doesn’t appear to have an end in sight.
When asked about some social media comments, made in response to a story about a GoFundMe started for him, expressing that they feel it’s time for Trupiano to stand down and find a more affordable place to live, he said he has no plans to throw in the towel.
“I make what I make and it’s enough to … afford a place that I love, I got here first, I got her before they even know how to spell Hoboken, as far as the developers go,” Trupiano stated, also noting that his ex-landlord is now deceased.
” … Also, I moved here for a reason … there’s no desire for me to move even with the circumstances that seem to be that compelling. I just, I know I belong here, I know I fought the good fight, I know I stand on my rights.”
At the moment, Trupiano pays $783 in rent monthly, and according to Wefer, that would skyrocket to $3,800 if his landlord’s legal challenge is successful.
When asked where the case appears to be heading, Wefer said it was unclear at the moment, but said she wouldn’t be surprised if it was heard by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
“There’s a lot of case law existing in New Jersey on the subject of rent control because it always has this tension between private property rights and the right of community to protect itself,” she began.
“And it’s been a long time, it’s been since the 80’s since we’ve had a lot of litigation on this and this case is a logical continuation of what we’ve seen in the past. I think it’s a really important case and I’m glad that Mr. Trupiano is fighting.”
Wefer, who is handling the case pro bono, also pointed to the state’s Tenant Protection Act of 1992, which prevents tenants from being displaced when apartments are converted to condominiums.
“Hoboken is made up of the people who live here, it’s more than just a place to invest in real estate and make a profit. And Mr. Trupiano is part of the community, he’s been here for decades, and he’s entitled by law to stay here and he shouldn’t be bullied out,” she added.
Counsel for Amaccon did not return inquiries seeking comment.