Montclair rent control talks poised to harm 2-family, 3-family homeowners (Letter to the editor)
With respect to the Montclair rent control ordinance held up in court, you reported in your article published at MontclairLocal.news on Feb. 10 that negotiations have been taking place between the Montclair Committee of Petitioners on Rent Control and the Tenants Organization of Montclair. (Editor's note: The article specifically reported the tenants group had walked away from negotiations, after it and the landlords group reached an impasse.)
Part of a compromise the parties had agreed to is that instead of rent control applying only to apartments with four or more units, two- and three-family units would be included. I am an owner of a three-family home and am not in support of rent control applying to my home. The main reason is that it will reduce the value of my property. I have spoken to my neighbors, also owners of two- and three-family homes, who also fiercely object to subjecting our properties to rent control.
But most egregious as this rent control proposal is to two- and three-family homeowners, is the fact that we are not represented in these negotiations. We have no idea what terms that may affect us are under discussion. On the contrary, our homes are being used as a bargaining chip by the negotiating parties to reach a compromise! It is outrageous that a potential settlement that affects a large proportion of Montclair homeowners may be reached without any input from that affected group. Two- and three-family homeowners will vehemently oppose such a settlement.
The tenants group also wants to require landlords to release private information on tenants as part of the landlords’ registration process with the town. It would be an invasion of the privacy of both two- and three-family property owners and our tenants to require that we publicize our income or rents. Two- and three-family homeowners will vehemently oppose such a registration requirement.
I don’t know what else is being considered as these parties negotiate a settlement, so I cannot comment. This lack of transparency is also outrageous. But I do know that certain Township Council members encourage adding two- and three-family homes under this ordinance, so we cannot count on them to watch out for our interests. This ordinance is an example of government overreach at its finest.
When I look at the two- and three-family homes in my neighborhood, many are not charging anywhere near market rate rents. We compromise on rents because we share a house with our tenants, who may help with small homeowner tasks and many times become our friends. Frequently, we rent to family members. We are able to live in pricey Montclair because we have a cushion of income that such rents provide to pay, for example, our huge property taxes. Our homes do not share the same profiles as apartment complexes owned by pension trusts or commercial real estate investors. We should not be subject to an invasive law that disrupts how we choose to manage our homes, pits small landlords against our tenants and devalues our investment.
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