MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Tenants Organization of Montclair has issued a statement concerning a last-ditch move to block the rent control ordinance developed over the past year.

Details are as follows:

The Tenants Organization of Montclair, a group of residents working in concert with clergy and their congregations, nonprofit groups, and supportive homeowners to achieve fair and just rent control, is responding to nonsense and puffery contained in a paid advertisement posted April 3 on Baristanet, and posted uncritically in several trade press notices online by the “Montclair Property Owners Association.”

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First, we want to point out that the Montclair Property Owners Association is a group that has only popped into local view in the past two weeks. It is not a functioning organization in the community. The group is being orchestrated by Ron Simoncini, a public relations representative for real estate companies, who acts as a hired gun for landlords whenever rent leveling efforts near success in New Jersey communities. Simoncini and his Property Owners Association of NJ were active most recently in attempting to quash Jersey City’s updating of its rent control ordinance. (More than 120 NJ towns have rent control in NJ. Simoncini is not a Montclair resident or property owner.)

The property owners’ group now inserting itself in Montclair announced this week that several landlords will “freeze” rents for 90 days if the Township Council agrees to upend its work of the past year and delay indefinitely its scheduled vote on Tuesday, April 7. The group complains it has been left out of the debate, and that the COVID-19 crisis is a bad time to approve new protections for tenants.
This is self-serving claptrap. Yes, you may quote us on that – any of us – the hundreds of Tenants Organization of Montclair members who have openly testified each month at Township Council meetings, our clergy, NAACP, senior, and home-owning supporters such as Joan Pransky, Ann Lippel and William Scott who have spoken out and worked with us along the way.

As for the landlord “freeze” on rent hikes during the COVID crisis. Really? Which feckless landlord would try to raise rents now even without the quid pro quo of rent control delay?

For decades, Montclair housing advocates have worked to counter the way rapid development and market forces continuously threaten our racially and economically diverse community. Now, this property-owner group attempts to claim high ground in “freezing” rent increases during a severe crisis? It is a shameless ploy, and we say, “Sorry, landlords, not on our watch!”

The ordinance that was studied, debated, negotiated, revised, and ultimately produced by the Township Council unanimously last month is fair to property owners. Their interests and welfare were taken into account, even though only a scarce few even acknowledged the public conversation going on over the past year. Only one, Mr. Simoncini, has spoken at a Town Council hearing, the last one, held after the ordinance was formally introduced.

For those who wish to educate themselves further on rent control in Montclair, we recommend viewing the Channel 34/YouTube videos of Township Council meetings.