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Attorney’s Fees Awarded in New Jersey Rent Control Political Dispute

“The city of Hoboken must pay attorney’s fees to a pro-rent control group that fought for a referendum to overturn a city ordinance that weakened the rights of tenants in rent controlled apartments.” The New Jersey Supreme Court decided in favor of awarding about $70,000 to the lawyer’s representing the Hoboken Fair Housing Association. The Court stated the reasoning for awarding attorney’s fees was under an interpretation of the Civil Rights Act. The Court believed that the “civil rights of the voters in Hoboken were violated.”

The decision was made following the denial of the Hoboken Fair Housing Associations petition to have a referendum placed on the ballot to appeal a city Ordinance which would place a “statute of limitation of two years on the rights of the tenants in rent controlled apartments to recoup rent overages.” The Hoboken Fair Housing Association was given the incorrect number of signatures necessary to get a referendum placed on the ballot by the Hoboken City Clerk, and consequentially the referendum petition was denied. The Hoboken Fair Housing Association submitted additional signatures once the Association was made aware of the correct number of signatures necessary. However, the referendum petition was again rejected because “it was not filed in a timely manner.”

The Hoboken city’s attorney was disappointed in the decision made by the court and stated that the “expansive interpretation of the Civil rights Act, is fundamentally at odds with the way cities are run and how cities make their decisions.”

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