The Lakewood Township Committee tonight confirmed that they do not intend to reopen the Rent Control Board they abolished 8 years ago, despite the ongoing mess this abolishment has caused.

Prior to 8 years ago, the Township operated a Rent Control Board which was granted jurisdiction to accept complaints from tenants of illegal rental increases, investigate complaints, reduce rents based on landlord's breach of covenants in lease or implied covenants, such as habitability, as well as to accept applications from landlords who are seeking rental increase based on hardship, unusual expenses, tax surcharge or other circumstances, and to adjust rents based on landlord's subsequent change in position caused by law or economic conditions.

When the Board was established, the Township included in its founding ordinance that hardship applications will be automatically approved if the Board did not take action on the application within 60 days. This provision was not put into place to make way for landlords to get automatic applications for any rent increases they desired, but rather to put into place a fair timeline for the Board to hear all applications submitted.

8 years ago, this system collapsed when the Committee shut down the Board to help "one of the boyz."

However, the Board's ordinances - including the automatic approval for hardship applications - remain on the books.

As recently reported here on FAA News, Judge Valter Must dismissed a lawsuit filed by tenants of Prime Apartments which alleged unfair rent increases. Judge Must stated that his hands were simply tied because the landlord fairly complied with the Township's still-on-the-books ordinance, which granted him automatic approval of his hardship application once the Board failed to take action on the application after 60 days.

This litigation - and especially its outcome - highlights just how much havoc the Township Committee's abolishment of the Rent Control Board continues to cause.

During tonight's Township Committee public meeting, a resident asked about the Rent Control Board - highlighting the fact that the Prime Apartments lawsuit was dismissed, leaving the tenants with no recourse - and asked the Committee whether or not they intend to reinstate the Board.

Mayor Ray Coles confirmed that the Township intends to keep the status quo.

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