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HFHA Rent Control Tutorial

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HFHA Rent Control Tutorial

  1. 1. Presents: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS Everything You Wanted to Know about Rent Protections, but Didn’t Know Who to Ask
  2. 2. What is covered under Hoboken’s Rent Control Ordinance vs. State Law? RENT CONTROL  Yearly Increases  Legal Base Rent  Overcharges  Surcharges: Tax/Water/Capital Improvement  Vacancy Decontrol STATE LAW  Displacement  Condo conversion/protected tenant status  Lease disputes (outside of sections addressed in Hoboken’s rent control laws) 2
  3. 3. What properties are covered under Hoboken’s Rent Control laws?  Any residential property built before 1987 (including single-family houses and condos.)  Any residential property with less than 4 rental units regardless of when it was built.  Any pre-1987 condo dwelling.  Any post-1987 building that didn’t file a rent control exemption.* * There is some question as to whether buildings built as rental properties that didn’t file an exemption are covered) 3
  4. 4. What properties are not covered under Hoboken’s Rent Control laws?  Commercial/Retail establishments.  Post-1987 buildings with more than 3 units that filed an exemption.  Housing authorities, HUD developments.  Properties under a government sponsored affordable housing program.  Factory/Industrial properties (even if converted to rentals). 4
  5. 5. What protections do tenants have under Hoboken’s Rent Control laws? PAY ATTENTION THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT 5
  6. 6. Unless You Stand Up For Yourself You Have No Protections Hoboken Administers its Ordinance Reactively 6
  7. 7. But seriously…. 7
  8. 8. Q: What rights do you have if you stand up for yourself? A: To pay only the legally allowed rent  You have a right to be charged no more than the legal rent allowed on your apartment.  You have a right to get a legal rent calculation that determines what that is.  If you discover you have been overcharged, you have a right to have the rent lowered.  You have a right to a refund of up to 2 years over payments.*  You have the right to appeal a legal rent calculation and to defend a legal rent calculation if it is appealed by the landlord. *The maximum number of years for which you can receive a refund of overpayments is 2 years. If you received and signed a disclosure form (see sample) when you moved in, you can only file in the first 2 years that you live in the unit. If you did not receive a disclosure form you can file for the most recent 2 years you’ve lived in the apartment. If you vacate your apartment, you can file for a rent refund for two years up until two years after you have vacated the unit. 8
  9. 9. What is a legal rent calculation & how do you get one?  A legal rent calculation (LRC) is a determination made by the city’s rent leveling officer when a tenant files for the calculation.  When a landlord files for this determination it is called a legal rent update.  The cost to file: $20.  Any determination can be appealed to the rent leveling board by either party.  Note: Your landlord is always notified when you file an LRC. 9
  10. 10. Filing an OPRA It’s less complicated than you might think
  11. 11. Or, Google “Hoboken OPRA”11
  12. 12. Digital copies are free of charge! 12
  13. 13. 13
  14. 14. Then there’s that thing that sends shudders down a landlord’s spine… Treble Damages 14
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  16. 16. There are two types of surcharges What is a Surcharge?
  17. 17. Tax/Water Surcharge  What is a Tax/Water Surcharge?  The difference between the taxes in 1988 & today with a couple of exceptions: o 1) If you live in a condo conversion – it is the difference between the first tax year after the conversion & today. o 2) If the unit was given a hardship increase and taxes were included in the calculation – it is the difference between the year of the hardship increase and today. o 3) If your unit was subject to a 1-time full vacancy decontrol for an O/O condo – it is the difference between the year the vacancy decontrol was granted and today. 17
  18. 18. Things to know about the tax/water surcharge  It is good for 12 months and then must come off.  It can, however, be re-filed for each year.  It is not part of your base rent for the purposes of any yearly increase.  Your landlord must notify you of the surcharge.  Your landlord can file for a tax surcharge at any time; it doesn’t have to be at the time you take up residency or at the time you get your yearly increase.  It’s automatic if your landlord applies for it. 18
  19. 19. Capital Improvement Surcharge  What is a Capital Improvement Surcharge?  If your landlord makes a capital improvement to your apartment and/or the building, the landlord can file to recoup the cost from the tenants over time.  Capital Improvements are heard at the rent leveling board.  You must be notified that the landlord has filed and you should attend the hearing.  The amount of the surcharge and the length of time is determined by the rent leveling board. 19
  20. 20. Things to know about the capital improvement surcharge  It is not part of the base rent for the purposes of your yearly rent increases.  The maximum amount that it can be is 33.33% of your monthly rent.  The surcharge must come off after the term of the surcharge is completed. 20
  21. 21. Hardship increases are not surcharges What is a hardship increase?
  22. 22. Hardship Increase If your landlord is not getting a “reasonable return” on his/her investment s/he can apply for a permanent increase in the base rent on your unit. The hardship is determined by the amount of equity in the unit/building and the interest on the mortgage on the building/unit plus annual expenses minus the rent paid. If the rent does not cover the landlord’s expenses your rent will be increased by the amount that isn’t covered plus a reasonable return. 22
  23. 23. Things to know about a hardship increase  It is permanent and it is part of your base rent.  There is no limit on how much a hardship increase can be. Pretty Scary, Right? 23
  24. 24. What is The role of the Rent Board & who are the Rent Board Members? 24
  25. 25. Who to contact about what & why  A problem in your apartment or building relating to your safety: The Housing Inspector – 201.420.2041  A question about rent control: The Rent Leveling Officer (Suzanne Hetman) – 201.420.2062  Eviction/Displacement: An attorney (Hoboken Fair Housing Association members can get referrals)  For support/advice/non-legal advocacy: Hoboken Fair Housing Association: 201.589.1892 (free to members)  Hoboken also has a tenant attorney on contract for non-rent control related advise 25
  26. 26. Tips for renters – some odds & ends  If your lease has a clause that says you can be evicted if your unit is becoming a condo – cross it out – this provision is illegal for pre-conversion tenants.  Check to see if your lease says that the landlord can apply surcharges at any time.  If your building is selling & if there are 4 units or more and your landlord tells you that you have to leave, you don’t.  If your building sells and the new owner gives you a lease that says, “no pets” when you already have one – tell the owner that they don’t have a legal right to tell you to get rid of your pet.  If you get a notice that the there will be a hearing by the rent leveling board about anything relating to your unit….ATTEND. 26
  27. 27. Most Important Tip: Join & Support The Hoboken Fair Housing Association www.hobokenfairhousing.org hobokenfairhousing@gmail.com 201.589.1892 27

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