NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The city Rent Control Board approved the settlement of a class action lawsuit compensating residents of the Colony House apartments for rent overcharges and other rental property violations.

Residents of the 169-unit apartment building at 1050 George St. whose tenancy began after July 2002 may seek compensation of $7,500 each from an incentive award.

In addition, the court ruling requires the landlord to establish a $700,000 settlement fund to satisfy all claims.

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 “From here on out, if we’re going to calculate any allowable increases or vacancy decontrol or a complaint, we’ll go back to this because … that’s the court-approved (agreement),” said Rent Control Administrator Ingé Schwarz.

The lawsuit, filed on July 31, 2008, stemmed from a dispute over rental overcharges and violations of city rent control ordinances, said attorney Patrick Whalen, who represented the tenants.

 “It affected people who were tenants on or after July 2002,” he said. “Hundreds of tenants were affected by the ruling.”

The city Rent Control Board, comprised of five members including at least one tenant, one homeowner, and one landlord, meets every fourth Tuesday of the month, 7 p.m., in the city council chambers at City Hall.

“Rent control was adopted in New Brunswick in 1973,” according to the city website. “The purpose of the ordinance is to allow owners to receive a fair return on their investment and to protect tenants from steep annual rent increases. The process allows for mediation for rent disputes and for binding decisions regarding allowable rent increases,” it said.