Residents win rent control battle; landlords face steeper hurdle to raise rents

Share on

The City Council approved a rent control ballot initiative by a group of housing advocates. The initiative would have

NEWARK -- Landlords looking to raise rents on rent-controlled buildings will have to meet a higher threshold to do so under new measures passed by the city this week.  

The City Council approved a resident-sponsored initiative to tighten rent control laws, last week. The measure requires a landlord spend 12 months worth of rent to rehabilitate a vacant apartment in order to raise rent by up to 10 percent. 

"From the perspective of ensuring that we maintain housing affordability from every level, from low-income through moderate-income, the rent control ordinance is another extremely important piece of the puzzle to do that," said Richard Cammarieri, a housing advocate who works at New Community Corporation.

Homes for All Newark, a coalition of housing advocates and renters, collected enough signatures to submit a ballot initiative to the city last month requesting these changes. If the council failed to approve the measure, it'd be up to the voters to decide. 

The rent control measure essentially reverses changes South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James proposed early this year. In March, the council agreed to lower the amount a landlord must spent in rehabilitation costs to raise rents: Eight months worth of a unit's rent would allow a landlord to raise rent by 20 percent. The new legislation caps increases at 10 percent. 

"This is what the residents wanted, this is what they petitioned, they got the signatures for," James, who voted in favor of the measure even though he didn't think it would be good for the city, said. 

"I think it will cause a lack of redevelopment," he said. "It will inhibit significant improvement." 

Cammarieri said rent control changes were one part of making sure the city remained affordable amid new waves of development. The city is also pushing an inclusionary zoning ordinance requiring new developments to set aside low- and moderate-income units. 

"I was surprised they approved it so quickly," Cammarieri said. "They did the right thing."

Karen Yi may be reached at kyi@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook. 

Share on
Article Residents win rent control battle; landlords face steeper hurdle to raise rents compiled by Original article here