As we write this letter, tenant advocates and some landlords are meeting to negotiate a new rent control ordinance. If an agreement is reached and approved by the Town Council, Montclair can avoid running a special election on rent control. While we wait for the results of these discussions, we want to explain why Montclair needs rent control.
Forty-two percent of Montclair’s households are renters. They need more protection than they currently have. Landlords in town masquerading as homeowners are trying to convince us these protections aren’t necessary. This is not true. One reason our town needs rent control is the percentage of rent burdened tenants increased by 35% between 2000 to 2018. Rent burden is defined by a household spending more than 1/3 of their income on rent.
Rent control works in Caldwell, Verona, West Orange and Morristown. It can work in Montclair too.
According to Montclair’s master plan, one of our town’s unique strengths is its diversity, both economic and social, and there is a danger of losing that diversity due to rising housing costs. Sadly, this is already happening. The percentage of Black residents in Montclair decreased by 26% between 2000 to 2019. At the same time, upper income households increased by 29%.
Landlords are pushing the false argument that rent control means Montclair’s taxes will go up. Towns that have rent control all have lower property taxes than Montclair. Property tax increases have happened in the past, without rent control, and they will likely continue, unrelated to rent control.
There are many reasons New Jersey has high taxes. Rent control is not one of them.
Homeowners don’t need to be threatened by rent control. If we are asked to vote, make sure to support rent control.
Members of the Homeowners Committee of the Tenants Organization of Montclair