Needless to mention, we are in a period of inflation, with daily experiences of higher prices and frequent coverage of it in the news. Inflation jumped 7.5% in January from a year earlier, the biggest increase in four decades.
Those who don’t own their homes have probably noticed a bigger increase in the rent they pay.
The median rent for one- and two-bedroom apartments in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States rose 19.3% from December 2020 to December 2021, according to a National Association of Realtors.
The US Department of Labor said rental costs rose 0.5% in just one month – from December to January – the highest rate of increase in 20 years.
Residents of a 55-and-older community in the upper township have asked for help from the local government in the form of a rent control order that would limit the increases they pay. The wonder is that many others have not asked the same of their cities.
Pine Hill Mobile Court has 118 residents, who live in what are known as mobile home park models – fabricated and brought to the site, where they are permanently mounted on foundations and utilities.
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Residents own their homes, but rent the land they are on from the community owner. In 2018, local owners sold it to Lakeshore Management, a Skokie, Illinois company that owns housing communities in nine states.
Francine Shimp, one of the residents asking the township committee to consider controlling rents, said the latest $45 increase brought her rent to $520 a month, not including utilities.
The national trend has been against rent control for some time. Only New Jersey and three other states – New York, Maryland and California – allow rent control. Thirty-five states have banned it.
New Jersey leaves the decision to the municipalities, and about 100 have done so.
However, several of these municipalities are phasing out their controls through a process called permanent vacancy control, which protects existing tenants but removes price limits when units are vacated. Among them are Hammonton and Cherry Hill.
The New Jersey Apartment Association of Rental Landlords, of course, is against rent control. A study he commissioned concluded that statewide property values would be $3.2 billion higher without rent controls, and that annual capital improvements to rentals are reduced by $18 million. of dollars and the maintenance of 23 million dollars.
Last year, an Asbury Park rent control proposal by an affordable housing coalition was defeated by voters 2 to 1. It would have capped rent increases at 4% or the rate of inflation, according to the lower.
Instead, the city council voted for rent control that allows for a maximum increase of 3.5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is greater. This protects landlords from inflation which actually lowers the rent they are allowed to charge.
The Upper Township Committee was sympathetic to the residents of Pine Hill Mobile Court. The township attorney told committee members that communities that enact rent control typically do so in response to an emergency. He suggested a study to test the rationale for rent control before enacting it, as court cases have concluded that landlords have a legal right to expect a reasonable return on rents.
Committee members wanted to ensure that such an order could only apply to year-round tenants and not interfere with seasonal rentals. They also asked if it could be limited to communities 55 and older, and were told it was possible if the information supported it.
The township committee sent the matter to the planning council for study and recommendation. Mayor Curtis Corson said it would cost money and “it’s going to take time.”
Great care will also be needed to weigh the possible effects on all township residents and businesses. Inflation is hurting a lot of people, and that’s just one factor in high rents. Before the committee decides to help some, they should consider whether it would be fair to others as well.