Jersey City Considering Stronger Rent Controls

Jersey City is considering strengthening its rent-control law. A 43-page draft ordinance released Jan. 24 by a special City Council committee would expand the city’s rent controls beyond buildings with five or more apartments built before 1987. The measure would extend regulation to rentals from any company that owns more than 50 units in the city. The Council said that was intended to prevent speculation in the market for smaller buildings.

The proposed legislation would also reduce increases for major capital improvements to 1.15 percent of their cost. The current law allows 1.35 percent MCI increases, and 1.55 percent if the owner spends more than $5,000.

It would also beef up tenant protections, requiring landlords to tell renters that their apartment is rent-controlled both in large type on their lease and in building common areas. It would extend the look-back period for rent overcharges from two years to six, and include a one-day minimum jail sentence for harassment.

Councilmember James Solomon, who represents the Downtown neighborhood by the waterfront and was one of the committee’s six members, told the Jersey Journal last fall that stronger rent laws were necessary because over 70 percent of Jersey City’s 265,000 residents are renters, and almost a quarter spend more than half their income on rent.