Bayonne City Council proposes ordinance to continue rent control

Tenants of rent-controlled units prior to 2011 would continue to have their protections

Bayonne is continuing rent control of certain units for another year.

At its November meeting, the City Council introduced an ordinance that would do that by amending and supplementing the general ordinances of the city of Bayonne, Chapter 16, entitled Rent Control. The ordinance would extend rent control from Jan. 1, 2023 to Dec. 31, 2023.

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The protections for tenants was first enacted via an ordinance in Bayonne in 1972. In 2011, the City Council adopted another ordinance continuing the protections for tenants legally occupying rent-controlled apartments at the time, but no longer extending those protections to new tenants or new units. It had been contemplating the move throughout the year.

In July 2011, the council introduced an ordinance that would eliminate rent control on an apartment in which landlords made certain improvements. However, the council ultimately withdrew it, then replaced it with one that eliminated rent control on an apartment if the current tenant moves out, which was adopted in November 2011.

Rent control limits increases to the cost of living increase each year, usually a few percent, and imposes other rules on rents and rent hikes in the city. The city is required to renew its existing rent control ordinance yearly, or else it will expire.

In 2011, City Council members at the time said that the change was needed in order to encourage landlords to upgrade an aging and deteriorating stock of apartments. Under the new ordinance, said then-City Attorney Charles D’Amico, apartments would lose their rent control status only once the current residents move out.

Residents of rent controlled apartments came out in protest against the ordinance. But City Council members at the time said the ordinance was a good compromise, stating that this was allowing landlords to get out from under the burdens imposed by rent control, yet protecting residents who still live there.

However, the ordinance adopted that November resulted in outcry by residents, who had the changes under the ordinance put on hold by December and a measure to completely reinstate rent control successfully put on the 2012 ballot for the November election after gathering enough signatures.

Despite their efforts, that ballot referendum ultimately failed by a margin of 57 to 43 percent. Regardless, supporters of rent control, particularly the Bayonne Tenants’ Association, vowed to continue the fight.

In 2014, the supporters of rent control again sought to bring back full protections for tenants. The issue was successfully added to the ballot that November, but again failed to pass by roughly the same margin of 57 to 43.

While opponents to the 2011 changes to rent control were still adamantly against them, since then, it does not appear that there has been much movement on that front. City officials confirmed that there were no changes in the 2022 ordinance from recent years past.

The ordinance will be up for a public hearing and vote at the next City Council meeting on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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