This action is before the court on a complaint in lieu of prerogative writs by reason of a decision of the Rent Control Board of the City of East Orange. The action is filed by plaintiff, Robert Goldberg t/a Real Estate Management Company (hereinafter Goldberg), against the East Orange Rent Control Board (board). Samuel Klein, the affected tenant, was permitted to cross-appeal the board's determination as an intervenor.
The facts are briefly as follows. Intervenor Klein, a tenant in an apartment house managed by plaintiff, entered into a lease which commenced on October 1, 1975 and ended November 30, 1978. The annual rent stated in the lease was $6,612 or $551 monthly. By separate document plaintiff permitted a one-month rental concession for each year of the lease term.
On or about October 25, 1978 Goldberg served Klein with a notice terminating his tenancy as of December 1, 1978 and advising him that Goldberg would be willing to enter into a new one-year lease at $617 a month. This amount represented a 12% or $66 increase based on the stated rent of $551. Klein advised Goldberg that he was willing to pay a 12% increase equal to $60 based on the alleged effective rent of $505 for a total rent of $565. Goldberg refused. Klein then filed a complaint with the board on March 17, 1978 to establish the correct base rent and allowable increase under the city's rent control ordinance.
The board determined the rental concession was a waiver of rent, and considered the concession as rent not received for purposes of computing the base rent. The base rent calculated by the board was $505. The board limited plaintiff to a $60 increase effective from December 1, 1978, establishing a new maximum rent of $565 a month.
Plaintiff argues that the rent control board does not have the authority to fix a base rent under the ordinance other than the
rent stated in the tenant's lease. Plaintiff alleges the ordinance is silent on the topic of rental concessions and fails to specifically define the term "rent."
The powers of the board under Ordinance 52 of 1975, amended June 15, 1978 and October 25, 1977, are as follows:
Section 1. 2:38-9 Establishment of Rents
Establishments of rents between a landlord and a tenant to whom this act is applicable shall hereafter be determined as follows:
a. For a periodic tenant (i.e., month to month, week to week) whose lease term is less than one year, said owner, agent or employee of same shall not demand, receive or accept any rental increase which is greater than six percent (6 percent) of the existing rent at the time the notice of increase is delivered to the tenant. . . .
b. For a year to year tenant, or for a tenant under a lease term in excess of one year, said landlord, owner or agent of same shall not seek or demand an increase in rental which exceeds six percent (6 percent) of the prior rent for each twelve (12) month period the existing lease has been in effect. (Example: A written lease runs for three (3) consecutive years at a fixed rent without increases. At the end of ...