Tenants File $400M Federal Lawsuit Against Corporate Landlord In Hudson County

JERSEY CITY, NJ — A group of tenants in Jersey City who’ve been fighting to get their rents lowered for two years has filed a $400 million class action lawsuit against their corporate landlord in U.S. District Court.

The tenants of Portside Towers East and West, who believe their buildings should be subject to Jersey City’s rent control laws, have been fighting to lower rents they say have risen as much as 25 percent or more.

They filed the suit against Equity Residential on Tuesday, July 2, according to the court documents (see the lawsuit below).

Interested in local real estate?Subscribe to Patch's new newsletter to be the first to know about open houses, new listings and more.

The city of Jersey City issued a ruling in 2022 saying that Portside West is subject to local rent control, and in 2023 decided that Portside East was subject to rent control too. But tenants say they are still being issued steep increases.

Equity has already filed a lawsuit against Jersey City in federal court in November over its enforcement 0f rent control. READ MORE: 3 Corporate Landlords Sue Hoboken And Jersey City Over Rent Control Rulings

Interested in local real estate?Subscribe to Patch's new newsletter to be the first to know about open houses, new listings and more.

The matter is part of a larger issue currently occurring in both Hoboken and Jersey City in which landlords, buoyed by a hot real estate market, are raising rents 15 percent or more. The rents in both cities have become among the highest in the nation.

However, the state of New Jersey has a law applying to all rentals in the state saying that rent increases cannot be “unreasonable or unconscionable.” The law leaves the amount vague, forcing tenants and landlords to wind up in court if they want a ruling.

Many older buildings in Jersey City and Hoboken are also subject to the towns’ individual rent control laws, which are stricter than state law. Newer buildings may be exempt if they can prove that they applied for a state exemption from before they were built, and as long asf they notified tenants of the exemption in the initial lease. Recently, some corporate landlords who bought buildings in Hudson County have had trouble proving they’ve satisfied the conditions for the exemptions.

Michele Hirsch, the president of the Portside Towers West Tenant Association in Jersey City, said Tuesday, “This class action lawsuit is our chance to finally hold our landlord accountable. By coming together in this class action, we’re sending a clear message that tenants’ rights cannot be ignored.”

Kevin Weller, president of the Portside East Tenants Association, said that his rent was $4,534 two years ago, and he just got a notice that it will be raised to $7,011 per month.

He said Tuesday, “Equity continued to increase rents, stating they didn’t agree with the binding [Jersey City] board determination to which there is no stay in any court. We invite other tenants facing similar situations to reach out to us at RentControlJC@gmail.com. Together, we can fight for our rights and ensure that rent control laws are enforced.”

Under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, tenants who were paying rents higher than what’s allowed can try to win triple damages in court. Weller noted that this was among the considerations in determining the damages amount.

Patch has written dozens of recent articles on the recent rent controversies in Hoboken and Jersey City. Read more:

Get more local news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for free Patch newsletters and alerts.

Click Here:

Leave a Reply