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Rent control extended in Bayonne

As tenants with the protections move out, the units become decontrolled

Newer apartments built in Bayonne after 2011, like these pictured here, are not rent-controlled. Photo by Daniel Israel.

Bayonne has extended rent control of certain units for another year.

The City Council adopted an ordinance at its December meeting extending rent control from Jan. 1, 2023 to Dec. 31, 2023.

Rent control watered down by council in 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.

The protections for tenants were 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 on 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.

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 ordinance, then-City Attorney Charles D’Amico said apartments would lose their rent control status only once the current residents move out.

Recapping recent rent control history in Bayonne

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 adopted ordinance resulted in outcry by those residents, who had the changes under the ordinance put on hold 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.

Extending protections for tenants in the same units since pre-2011

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.

After the December meeting, City Council President Gary La Pelusa explained the gist of the ordinance. He confirmed rent control was being extended for those who already lived in rent-controlled units prior to the 2011 changes.

“It’s extending it,” La Pelusa told the Bayonne Community News of the 2022 ordinance. “We have rent control. They did decommission it several years ago, but it’s still intact. So the apartments that have rent control, it’s extended.”

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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