Pro-referendum advocates make their case

From the desk of pro-referendum advocates:

On November 8th
Vote YES to Reject Ordinance
Z-88 and Defend Tenants’ Rights!
of Hoboken:
November 8, 2011 General Election ballot contains PUBLIC QUESTION #2: “Shall the Ordinance Z-88, adopted by the City
Council of the City of Hoboken, which amends certain provisions of Chapter 155
of the City Code, entitled “Rent Control” be
should vote YES to reject Z-88 for
two reasons:  first, it is unfair and harmful
to tenants, and second, to force the Mayor and Council to consider the rights
and concerns of all affected citizens when they create or amend laws,
not merely those with the most money.
Ordinance Z-88 harms tenants in many ways:
Z-88 changes the base year (from which legal
rents are calculated) from 1973 to 1985, so all illegal rents charged during
those years are legalized.
Z-88’s “period of repose” provision prevents a
tenant from recovering more than 2 years of illegal rent overpayment.  This cheats the tenant and rewards the
landlord who charged an illegal rent.  It also penalizes landlords that did follow the law
Z-88’s “statute of limitations” provision
prevents a tenant from recovering ANY illegal rent overpayment if the tenant
does not request a legal rent calculation within 2 years of receiving a
“disclosure statement” which “discloses” that there is a Rent Control (RC) law
and that “a copy of the Landlord’s Registration
Statement will be on file with the Rent Regulation Office and available to a
tenant upon request”, misleadingly suggesting that the registered rent
is legal when it may not be and eliminating any motivation for the tenant to
request a legal rent calculation.  There is also no penalty if a landlord does
not provide the disclosure statement; 
its purpose is only to begin the 2 year statute of limitation period.
Z-88 permits a landlord to submit “alternative
proofs” to justify past rent increases to substitute for missing registration
and vacancy decontrol forms which existing RC requires for rent increases.  Unfortunately, these “alternative proofs”
need not be valid evidence at all:  a certification from the landlord could
suffice.  Z-88 would thus permit an
unscrupulous landlord to insert one or more illegal vacancy decontrol forms and illegal registration statements based only on his
certification and no other evidence.  The ordinance does not require any other
proof.  Prior tenants who might refute such certifications may have
left Hoboken and/or be unaware that the RC hearing is even happening.  This would not only legalize a present
illegal rent, they would also allow the present legal rent to be jacked up far
beyond what the current tenant is paying, encouraging the landlord to evict
that tenant so the next tenant will pay the much higher rent.
Z-88 gives the Rent Control Board the “equitable
authority” to depart from the RC law when they think it is “fair” to do so,
completely undermining the law if the majority of the RC Board does not
ideologically consider RC to be “fair”.
·      Finally, Z-88 specifies that more
changes to the law will follow, making it more difficult for affected citizens
to protest with a referendum petition as they lose their rights one step at a
These Z-88
RC changes reward landlords who violated the law and encourage them to evict
tenants who pay legal rents.
All nine
of the councilpersons who voted to pass Z-88 indicated on the record that they
had problems with it, but they voted for it anyway, forcing concerned citizens
to collect 3,158 referendum signatures and go to court to get the issue on the
ballot for the voters of Hoboken to decide.
If you
or any of your friends and neighbors are tenants that will lose RC protections
and possibly their homes, you have the opportunity to take part in a democratic
process and do something about it:  Vote
YES to reject Z-88 to defend tenants’ rights and to force the Mayor and Council
to properly represent you!   Let your
voice be heard:  democracy and justice
can prevail over money!  Vote YES to
reject Z-88!

Update: If you missed it, scroll down the page to read the position of the Mile Square Taxpayers Association.

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