Rent Control Legislation Could Help NJ’s 300,000 Poorest Renters Afford Homes

Stronger Eviction Prevention Legislation Could Prevent Homelessness

An October 8, 2019 CT Post article, “California governor signs law capping rent increases” reports on the recent signing of a bill that will in California cap rent increases at 5% each year plus inflation.

The bill goes a step further than capping rents and prevents landlords from evicting tenants without a “just cause.”

Without a “just cause” landlords cannot evict households without a valid reason and only with the intent of increasing the rent for a new renter household. California’s new law restricts landlords to only being able to increase rent by up to 5% per year, plus inflation, until January 1, 2030. California joins Oregon as the second state in the nation to institute rent control statewide.

What effect might rent control legislation have on efforts to prevent and end homelessness in New Jersey? NJCounts 2019 asked households experiencing homelessness on the night of January 22, 2019 to share the primary factor that contributed to or caused their homelessness and 796 households (11.8% of the total number of households counted) gave eviction or risk of eviction as the cause of their homelessness. Legislation that restricts how and when landlords can evict tenants, especially low-income tenants, could prevent homelessness in the Garden State.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports in its Out of Reach report that New Jersey has 1,147,038 renters which represent 36% of the state’s population.

This rate of self-reported eviction through those surveyed through NJCounts 2019 coupled with the findings of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s The Gap report point to the need to address the affordable housing crisis in the Garden State.

According to The Gap, there are 298,204 extremely low income renters in New Jersey. There are only 33 affordable and available rental homes per 100 extremely low income renter households in the state. Rent control laws could control the cost of rent for low income renter sin New Jersey and perhaps expand the suplly of affordable and available rental homes.

And the percentage of extremely low income renter households with severe cost burden is 72%.