Hoboken voters overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday to keep changes that were made to the city’s Rent Control Ordinance by the City Council earlier this year.
Hoboken’s Rent Control Ordinance, first enacted in 1973, limits the amount a landlord can raise the rent each year to a few percent (depending on economic indicators). There are exceptions built in for landlords who make improvements and for other matters. The law currently applies to most apartments built before 1987.
Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos received over 16,000 votes in his race.
A main change limits the amount of time for which a renter can be reimbursed if he or she discovers that the landlord has been charging an illegally jacked up rent. In the past, renters could win triple damages for having overpaid rent for many years. The changes limit the number of years for which they can collect to two. Landlords have said that the city did not keep accurate rent records, and that some landlords were penalized for what former owners of buildings had done.
Other changes included forcing landlords to give tenants a booklet about their rights, and changes to rules about documentation that landlords must provide.
The final voting totals were: No (to keep the changes), 3,349 votes, and Yes (to repeal), 1,563, according to the Hoboken city clerk’s office.
Dan Tumpson, a tenant advocate, said he believes many voters were confused by the question. Usually, a no vote repeals legislation in a referendum, Tumpson said.
Tenant advocates also complained that the landlords’ side had a well-funded campaign, including hiring staffers to hand out flyers on Election Day.
Tumpson was not sure whether the tenants would launch a legal appeal.
Ron Simoncini, a spokesperson for landlords in the city, said he believes the tenants ran a dishonest campaign by saying that evictions could happen due to the changes.
“There was not one eviction component of the amendments,” he said.
Ramos, Romano re-elected
Two Hoboken residents, Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano and Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos Jr. (D-Hoboken) were overwhelmingly re-elected to their positions on Tuesday.
Romano won against independent Kurt Gardiner, who runs a blog that frequently supports Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Zimmer herself did not make an endorsement in the race. But Gardiner received the backing of several of Zimmer’s prominent allies.
Gardiner, who pulled in more than a third of the votes despite little name recognition, said he plans to run for freeholder again in four years.
The latest tally, according to the county clerk’s office, showed Romano, the incumbent, receiving 4,019 votes, and Gardiner receiving 1,604.
Each state legislative district includes one state senator and two Assembly people. Hoboken is located in the 33rd District.
The state Senate seat was won by Mayor Brian Stack (D) with 18,244 votes, beating Beth Hamburger(R), 2,815 votes. The two General Assembly seats were won by Ramos (D, 16,143 votes) and Sean Connors (D, 15,827 votes) over Fernando Uribe (R, 2,951 votes) and Christopher Garcia (R, 3,038 votes).
Countywide, County Executive Thomas DeGise (D) beat Stephen M. DeLuca (R) by 81.79 percent with 39,500 votes.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com