Exempt two-, three-family homes from Montclair rent control (Letter to the editor)
I am working with a group of two- and three-family property investors who oppose adoption of the new rent control ordinance. The original 2020 ordinance exempted two- and three-family homes from rent control. We just received the revised 2022 ordinance last week. The revised ordinance now applies rent control to two- and three-family homes, unless they are owner-occupied.
Here is why we object to the new law:
- The Montclair Township Council ceded negotiation of this ordinance to two special interest groups — the Tenants Organization of Montclair and the Montclair Property Owners Association. Small property owners were not involved in these negotiations and were taken by surprise when we learned the ordinance, as proposed, applies to our properties. This law is sweeping and long-lasting. To exclude small property owners in crafting its terms is egregious and prejudicial to hundreds of property owners in Montclair.
- The new law is predicated on the issues noted in the opening section called “findings” which basically says in Section B that rents are going up, causing people to move. However, the township does not collect rental data from two- and three-family property owners to support this statement. Therefore, the township cannot have tracked this information over the years to back up the assertion that there has been substantial rent increases by two- and three-family property owners. This statement is wildly speculative and unsupported by empirical evidence. The township also does not have records on why tenants move. Tenants move for a variety of reasons, not always financial. Therefore, stating that increases in rent by two- and three-family property owners is causing tenants to move is totally unsupported by any factual data. We are interested in good government. Laws need to be promulgated based on research and facts not wild speculation or anecdotal information.
- Every neighboring town has a rent control ordinance, except Glen Ridge. However, with one exception, Cedar Grove, the proposed Montclair law is out of step with our neighbors. Here is how rent control works in each of these towns with respect to two- and three-family properties:
- Belleville and West Orange — Rent control does not apply to any 2 and 3 family property. Rent control does not apply to owner-occupied four-family properties.
- Bloomfield — Rent control does not apply to any properties with five or fewer units.
- Cedar Grove — Rent control does not apply to any two-family property, if it is owner-occupied.
- Clifton — Rent control does not apply to any property with six or fewer units.
- Little Falls and Verona — Rent control does not apply to any two- and three-family property.
I understand that small property owners would support the new ordinance if its terms were amended to exempt any two- and three-family property, and to exempt owner-occupied four-family properties. This is a very moderate compromise that we hope the council will consider.
Please contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions on my research or wish to participate with other small property owners in opposing this ordinance.
Editor's note: This letter has been revised at the writer's request to correctly state Cedar Grove's rent control does not apply to two-family properties. An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated it did not apply to three-family properties as well.
Montclair Local’s Opinion section is an open forum for civil discussion in which we invite readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair, or previously published letters. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent the views of Montclair Local.
Letters to the editor: To submit a letter to the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail “Letters to the Editor,” PO Box 752, Montclair, NJ, 07042 (email is preferred). Submissions must include the name, address and phone number of the writer for verification. Only the writer’s name and town of residence will be published. Montclair Local does not publish anonymous opinion pieces.
Letters must be no more than 500 words in length, and must be received by the Sunday prior to publication to be eligible for use in any Thursday print issue. Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for grammar and style. While our goal is to publish most letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to decline publication of a letter for any reason, including but not limited to concerns about unproven or defamatory statements, inappropriate language, topic matter far afield of the particular interests of Montclair residents, or available space.
Town Square: Montclair Local also accepts longer-form opinion essays from residents aiming to generate discussion on topics specific to the community, under our “Town Square” banner. “Town Square” essays should be no more than 750 words in length, and topics should be submitted to email@example.com at least seven days prior to publication.