Frequently asked questions about the Rent Leveling Board in Asbury Park
What is the charter and function of the rent leveling board?
The Rent Leveling board, as passed by the city, is to apply the rent control ordinance in accordance with the ordinance. As written in the Asbury Park Rent Control Ordinance (Ordinance 2021-5) – the board is under the “supervision of the Department of Finance or other Department as designated by the City Manager of the City.”
At a fundamental level, the rent board is in place to hear tenant/landlord rent disputes. If a complaint by a tenant is filed, both the tenant/landlord must appear before the board to make their respective cases. The board will then decide if the complaint is justified and then rule accordingly.
If a landlord decides to appeal the decision, it is their lawful right to do so. But according to New Jersey State law, the appeal then goes to the NJ Superior Court. Legal representation is needed.
In addition to these roles of the Rent Board, it also assists in supplying rent control information to tenants and landlord compliance with the Rent Ordinance. The Rent Board also handles violations in accordance with the Rent Control Ordinance.
The rent leveling ordinance can be found here:
Rent Leveling Board Meetings:
All Rent Leveling Board meetings are public and held in the City’s Municipal Chambers unless otherwise noted. They are required by law to meet every 60 days.
All are encouraged to attend. At every meeting the general public has the opportunity to make statements. Time is limited to 3 minutes, so if a resident of Asbury Park is to attend and speak in the public comment section, please make your comments direct, to the point, and respectful.
The Relationship between the Rent Leveling Board and the City Council. Does the Rent Leveling Board conform to the Ordinance as written?
The rent leveling board was appointed by the City Council.
In theory, the leveling board must follow the Ordinance as written and passed by the council. They do not have the legal ability to amend the Ordinance, only the council can amend the Ordinance. If the council amends the ordinance – then the leveling board must comply and follow the new statues.
What provisions are in the Rent Control Ordinance that allow for changes to the law or additional administrative authorities for the Rent Leveling Board?
Only the City Council (or the voters through petition/referendum) can change the Ordinance. Any changes must be voted on by the City Council or Registered Voters of Asbury Park through Petition/Referendum. The Rent Leveling Board cannot adjust or amend the language of the Ordinance without approval in any way shape or form.
Does the Rent Leveling Board have its own Attorney that is paid by the City of Asbury Park?
Yes. Astonishingly, before the Rent Leveling Board met for the first time, the City Council, Administration, and its two staff employees hired Neil D. Marotta. Mr. Marotta has a long track record of representing Rent Leveling Boards in the State of New Jersey. This hiring was done without approval or vote of the Rent Leveling Board.
Should there be cause for concern?
Under direction the Administration, and Rent Leveling Board staff members, they decided to send all landlords in Asbury paperwork about rent registrations and financial disclosures which constitute a breach of privacy.
However – this is not explicitly mentioned in the Ordinance. Essentially, without consent of the Rent Leveling Board, they went ahead and required this information from property owners. Failure to comply would incur a fine. Again, the request of this information from property owners is not explicitly mentioned in the City’s Rent Control Ordinance and can be interpreted as overreach by the Rent Leveling Board Staff Members and its lawyer.
It is contradictory to the ordinance. The Asbury Property Owners Coalition continues to fight against this overreach of administrative power.
What is the function of the board’s attorney and is his role permitted as part of the voted Ordinance?
There is no mention of the Rent Leveling Board requiring an attorney in the Ordinance as written and passed. The City Council, perhaps because the hiring of an attorney could aid the transition to a Rent Control system, hired Mr. Marotta. Again, the Administration did this before the rent leveling board had even met for the first time.
Neil D. Marotta is also the Rent Leveling Board attorney for Union City, NJ. Union City is an incredibly hostile environment for property owners, and we are very familiar with Mr. Marotta’s “tactics” regarding rent disputes. We have challenged him in the past and won, and we plan on doing the same in Asbury Park – even if that means taking him to court.
Who are the board members, their names, addresses, contact info?
The members of the rent board are not listed on the town’s website. However, the leveling board’s staff is. They consist of a rent regulation officer and a director of community development:
What criteria was used to appoint each board member and who made the appointments?
Members of the Rent Leveling Board were approved by the City Council after prospective Board. Each board member individually/independently applied for the position. The Ordinance says it must have seven members, with at least 2 tenants and at least 2 landlords. They must either be residents of Asbury and/or an owners of property in Asbury.
Are any board members also renters in town?
Yes. Derek Minno Bloom, an active tenant advocate, currently serves on the board.
Are any board members also owners/ landlords in town?
Can I find the Rent Leveling Board’s Contact Information?
The Board Members Contact information is not currently posted on the City’s website.
Where are the meeting minutes posted for the public to review?
The meetings are public, and in theory, the minutes will eventually be posted to the website at the below link (the meeting agendas are also available here):
For example: The City Council posts their meeting minutes on the City Website, and they are attentive about making the information public.
Many towns in NJ fail to do this at all – at least on a consistent basis. But – in what can be assumed as processing/administrative delays, the minutes often aren’t posted until weeks after the official meeting
The Asbury Park Property Owners Coalition will continue to push for the Rent Leveling Board meeting minutes, and agendas, to be posted in a timely fashion in accordance to City procedure.
Why does the public have only three minutes to speak before the Rent Leveling Board, especially since it is a brand-new Department of the City?
It is understandable being frustrated having only 3 minutes to speak on a very complex and important issue that involves all Asbury Park residents.
The “three-minute rule” is a standard for public comment periods during municipal meetings. While frustrating, it is understandable, because there are some individuals who tend to take advantage of unlimited time, which would mean valuable voices/points of view of other concerned citizens would not be heard. In addition, if unlimited time were allotted, the meetings would last into the late of night.
Does the Rent Leveling Board Meeting use microphones to make sure everyone in attendance is able to hear, especially for the hearing impaired?
In the pervious Rent Leveling Board Meetings, there were no microphones or speakers present. We urge you to write or call the City Council or City to request these simple additions to make the meetings more accessible to everyone.
How do we articulate to the Rent Leveling Board, and more importantly the City Council, that Rent Control can have a negative impact on the city’s housing stock?
The Asbury Park Property Owners Coalition made this point several times in public debate, before the City Council, and in Asbury’s many newspapers during the discussion of implementing Rent Control in Asbury Park. The council is aware of these points, as are the tenant advocates in Asbury.
Among many discussion points, note that when rent controls are implemented, not only does the tax burden shift, but it also decreases rental stock because landlords are motivated to sell/convert to condos. So rent control as a means to obtain affordable housing is not entirely accurate.
To achieve true affordable housing, new construction must be added and dedicated to means-tested individuals to ensure equitable housing needs for all.
Please explore the below links for a more in-depth discussion on the implications of rent control: