A town-wide issue has been brewing for some time now in Lakewood, and that is the issue of rent increases.
Dozens of Lakewood residents tell TLS they are facing massive rent increases, particularly in the past few months.
In some cases, renters received notices their rents were increasing by over 30%.
Rent increases isn’t just a Lakewood issue. Nationwide, rents have been up the last few months – particularly since the recent interest rate hike, which was intended to cool off the red-hot housing market. Locally, brokers week after week have been advertising ‘price reduction’ stickers on homes in Lakewood, Jackson and Toms River, which just several months ago were the subject of bidding wars.
In many cases, home-buyers entered into contract when interest rates were low, but were forced to cancel their contracts after realizing mortgage payments became unmanageable – despite the rental income which covered a chunk of the costs.
So as the real estate market cools, the demand for rentals has skyrocketed – but some are taking advantage of the massive demand, and are upping rents beyond the standards. By registering with the Rentola service, you can easily analyze the real estate market, as well as choose the best options for yourself at an affordable price.
Legally, managers say, rent here can only be increased 5% annually, and 6.5% annually if the landlord is paying for the heating.
However, some landlords are apparently unaware, and are just picking rent increase numbers out of their hats. In addition, at lease one lease agreement we received, shows a landlord upping the tenant’s requirement to pay for damages by approximately 300%.
In West Gate for example, some existing tenants are being hit wit 10% increases, while new tenants are paying much higher.
One Lakewood couple, an existing tenant, tells TLS they received a notice of an over 30% increase, but they took it to Beis Din.
“These prices are ridiculous,” said the father of one renter who is footing the bill for this children. “When I moved to Lakewood about 20 years ago, the same apartment which was going then under $700 is now close to $2,000.” He added, he’s currently talking to his children about the possibility of moving to a new neighborhood in New Jersey.
“Though I’m not one of those landlords who doubled the rent, supply and and demand together with inflation is definitely a factor renters need to take into account,” said a landlord we spoke to. “They can’t expect us to absorb it all.”
Another renter we spoke to says he’s currently being squeezed for a whopping 33% increase.
“I honesty don’t know what the Cheshbon is,” he told TLS. “Renters will just not be able to afford these prices, they will default and they will be forced to leave.” I don’t get their long-term plan.”
But as housing demand cools and rent demand is up, “it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” a Lakewood real estate manager warned.
lets skip the hock and get practical. What can be done about this? My son is engaged and apartments are hard to come by, and those that are not grabbed up before they hit the market are a fortune! Any sage advice?
Simple. Don’t pay it. Move out of Lakewood. Out of town Kollel or something of this nature.
True high rents may be everywhere but it may be worth looking around to see what other communities have to offer.
Another idea is move in with parents/in-laws. Sounds crazy but for a year or two you can save money for a home of your own. I did have a friend that did exactly this for a few years. B”H it worked out and they live in a nice home now.
Maybe a place like Manchester NJ where people are moving too have a cheaper rent. Going to the outskirts of “town” is another idea.
I want to share with the tzibbur the frightening words of the Chasam Sofer in Droshos. One period, due to the war environment in the vicinity of Pressburg there was a shortage of housing. Those that had extra room began to charge huge amounts of rent by taking advantage of the situation. The Chasam Sofer gave a derashah that if a Yid takes advantage of the shortage & charges more than what’s fair, Ain Lo Chelek Bo’olom Habah! He considered it the most despicable behavior a Yid can act towards his brother. I’m not qualified to equate today’s shortage to what happened then, but we need to understand the concept of tzoras Rabbim. Were’ supposed to be empathetic to the tzorah of Am Yisroel & just because I was blessed with a rental doesn’t license me to overcharge do to a shortage. Those that aren’t mishtatef in the Tzorah of the tzibbur, Chazal say they won’t participate in the yeshuah either. Before a landlord decides to raise his rent he should speak to a Rov about what is a fair raise in today’s climate. I’m writing this as a landlord in Lakewood.
5% increase rule applies only for multi unit buildings or for non owner occupied properties
Rivky B.,are you sure? See the township rent control page.
Reguardless of township rules, Minhag Hair is to increase by no more than 5% according to the Choshen Mishpat Dayan I spoke with. I was told to tell my landlord that it is incorrect what he is doing & if the landlord wants we can go discuss it in Bais Din.
Obviously, you are only complaining because the minhag hair changed to 25-30% if it were minhag hair to do 5% – only a few people would have this problem…
The mere fact that this article printed proves that the minhag changed 🙂
Rivky B., Not so simple. There is a department in the Lakewood township called STEPS that is dedicated to assists tenants being threatened by huge rent increases. This establishment can provide you with a lawyer at no cost to you, to help you fight off any ‘hardships’. According to halacha you should go to Bais Din first, however, if the landlord threatens legal action there are lots of options. Steps can be reached at 732-415-8638. They can provide a copy of rent control as well.
Steps ain’t helping nobody
If someone buys a home now at inflated rates I can understand inflated rental prices to cover mortgage. But if someone’s house was bought long ago and their mortgage is the same I don’t quite understand the inflated rental rates. General economic infection isn’t much of an excuse. Your rental isn’t supposed to cover your whole life expenses…
This argument doesn’t stand. If I’m a landlord & I paid off my mortgage Do I need to give a rent cut to my tenant? It’s none of the tenants business how much the landlord pays.
However, Halacha agrees with you that existing tenants cannot be raised by more than 5% a year. Regardless of Landlords bills.
New tenants can be charged whatever the landlord desires & if tenant accepts the deal then he is willfully entering agreement.
You need to take into consideration that any sort of repairs or wear and tear replacement after a Tennant leaves will cost two to three times more then it used to cost….. Get informed i learnt the hard way.wages are up material is waaay up…. the ten to twenty percent raise will not help you much……
Of course there is inflation for the landlord and higher taxes.
But as a small landlord in Lakewood I raised the rent just to cover my cost. I didn’t work with a 5 percent, I just looked at what my inflation rate was and passed it a long.
It’s ridiculous to take advantage in these hard times.
I’m sorry your expenses are up.
Halacha does not allow raising rent greater than 5% a year.
You can raise slowly & in a few years rent will reflect market value.
I agree with you that “It’s ridiculous to take advantage in these hard times”
This applies to tenants as well.
Thank you @TLS for being the voice of Lakewood.
Yes NJ State law is for multi families, howevwr Lakewood township has their own ordinance.
Amen!!! Thank you @TLS!! Bringing Awareness!!
Goosaged Asinine Goose, Your argument doesn’t really stand. Let’s say the landlord paid off their mortgage completely, Does the landlord need to cut the rental charge?
It’s none on the tenants business how much the landlords mortgage is. Fact is, Regardless of mortgage cost, If you have a new tenant you can charge whatever rent you want & if the tenant decides to move in, it’s a willful decision of their part.
However, if there is an existing tenant, it’s a sin to raise the rent by more than 5% a year because inflation is hurting you. Halacha says 5%. Period.
Yochy, I’m sorry that expenses went up, & if you want you can raise the tenant’s rent by 5% annually until the tenant’s rent reflects current market value.
Yochy, like you stated, “It’s ridiculous to take advantage in these hard times” That goes for tenants trying to get by as well.
It’s a bit more complicated than set forth here if you look on the township’s website the raise can be accumulative if you didn’t raise the max percent over the last 4 years you can add it all together and raise it at one time. There are other provisions for hardship which many can qualify for etc
Halacha Supersedes township ordinance.
Where does “halacha say 5%”?
Bunch of baloney
A halacha you don’t know isn’t baloney. Halacha Says You must follow the ‘Minhag Hair’. Talk to a Choshen Mishpat Dayan Who can explain this to you.
It’s not the minhag. And even if it was, that was before inflation was 10+ and now the minhag is 25% plus.
We are living in unprecedented times
A once in a while cost for a landlord to fix something should not constitute a 30% rent increase regardless of mortgage status. This same thing happened in Sanhedria in Yerushalaim many years ago and local rabbanim put their foot down and said anyone who charges X amount per sq ft cannot daven in their shuls. It worked for a while.
Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. And if there is a question if you should then you probably should not. It’s called basic bein Adam lchaveiro.
I don’t rent but I did at one point in my life and I remember the struggle starting out my life and having to deal with greedy landlords.
If you are a landlord and reading this, please put yourself in the tenants shoes for a minute.
The fact is that a 2008 all the tenants went over to that landlords and told them I will be moving out if you do not lower your rent and guess what? nobody cared or made articles to stick up for landlord losing money! and not being able to cover the mortgage!! don’t be two-faced.
I confirmed this with (honest people) that did this in 2008 and now are upset that the rent is going up and you know what? they agreed with me… so stop complaining and go get a job……
People who rip people off (specially young learning couples) have no bracha in their money and I honestly feel bad for them cause that’s not what’s going to put more cash in their wallets.
can someone please link me to where it says this law? I AM A LANDLORD AND WOUKD LIKE MY RAISE TO BE COMPLIANT WITH THE LAW.
I always get a warm and cozy feeling when I see Yidden taking advantage of other Yidden – not. Not very hard to feel the pain of כביכול and understand why משיח has still not arrived. Even if you CAN raise rents to crazy amounts, where is your heart for crying out loud?
To the father who paid 20 years ago $700, and is complaining that is $2000 today.
Funny joke a house in lakewood 20 years ago was a quarter the price or less, and so was a bag of potato chips
What happened to the Rent Control Board? Is it really true that the township committee abolished it?
As crazy as it sounds the answer is that they did in fact quietly do away with the board, because they claimed that they were unable to find members willing to join. But, as everybody knows, they never even advertised that they were looking.
The real story was that a certain influential landlord was doing shtick with his tenants and charging them more was allowed. So, when the tenant complained to the Board about it, it was arranged to shut them down before they were able to take any action and fix the landlord’s wrongdoings.
And here we are today with nobody to turn to for help. Thanks Mr. committeeman.
Anyone coming with me to E Y let’s make kollelim out of town.
Good luck. Rent there is even crazier and there’s way fewer laws protecting you as a tenant. You also pay property tax in rentals for the most part.
Get Trump back in office.
All these comments miss the point HUGLY (or however Trump spells it).
Rents are supposed to be reflective of the cost of the house. If a house costs a million dollars (spoiler alert: many are much more) and with interest rates what they currently are, a mortgage, tax and insurance can easily cost close to $7,000 monthly JUST TO COVER COSTS WITHOUT REPAIRS.
So remind me again. How much does your landlord charge you? $2,200 and he want to go up to $3k?
How many thousands of dollars does he need to lose a month for you to live in his house?
Do a bit of homework and see that the rents in Lakewood are far from normal.
So rent isn’t supposed to cover someone’s entire cost of living. It’s supposed to ease it. At the end of the day the owner of the house keeps his house while the renter only loses money. What is going to happen is people will start developing extremely affordable small housing units for newly married couples and people with basements will have an entire basement to store whatever they want in it.
It’s predatory behavior to take advantage of young families just trying to get by. Let them save money for a house when they are older too.
The day will come when people are going to have a hard time renting out their basement and they’ll complain that tenants are too picky. Stop while your ahead.
True. For a new tenant. Not an existing tenant.
What about Toms River or Howell houses where there is no tenant?
Be happy you have a basement income & for an existing tenant respectfully raise the rent slowly until you reach your desired amount.
The article clearly mentions West Gate as an example. Everyone I know who lives there got a minimum 9% – 10% rent increase. Yes, the new move-ins are being charged even more.
If the law (Halacha or D’Malchusa) is not more than 5%, how are they charging 10% + ?
Why aren’t there lawsuits?
Why are there no signs / petitions to management that they are going against the law?
Am I missing something here, or are people just being sheep and accepting the increase because they don’t know better ?
I would love to hear the real story here.
People are being sheep. Unfortunately people don’t think they can stand up for themselves. Thank you @TLS for bringing awareness.
There is a lawsuit happening particularly for Westgate, call STEPS to find put more, looks like someone posted the number above.
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My tuition was just raised between 20% (girls elementary) -40% (girls high school). Is there a minhag about that? This is the “new normal” during high inflation. The old rules (minhag) should not apply.
Real estate is a profitable business. Landlords can charge market rent, regardless of whether their expenses increased or not. That being said, obviously increases on existing tenants need to made in accordance with halacha and the law. As an aside, rent in lakewood has been much lower than surrounding areas in NJ for a very long time and is only catching up.
For anyone interested, SouthBend, Indiana has homes 1500-2000 Sq ft plus back and front yard for between 100-200K. There are homes for sale within a few minute walk of the Yeshiva and shul.
Hi, I’m just curious.
If my lease expires and I want to resign to stay on as a tenant, is that considered that I am a New tenant?
I only had a one year lease but I’m resigning.
Or, am I called a new tenant?
“Real Estate Market Shows Signs of Cooling…Residents facing massive rent increases.”
This is not ‘cool’ at all, and it’s certainly not the kind of cooling I was hoping for. I’d prefer that the weather show signs of cooling, so we wouldn’t face massive increases in our electricity bills. THAT, would be ‘cool’!
There’s a lot of economic illiteracy and uneducated legal opinion on display here.
The United States is based on a market economy (although the liberals are working every day to destroy it). Market economies are based on freedom of contract: ie: the ability and the right of every individual to conduct commerce freely, which includes the right to accept or reject transactions solely based on their own free will.
In the case of rentals, Landlords and Tenants are no different: Landlords can propose rents and Tenants can accept or reject them. It has nothing to do with what is fair, or justified by expenses incurred or any other metric. The desires and decisions of Landlords and Tenants are usually driven by market factors: Landlords will charge whatever amount of rent the market dictates. The “market” is set by supply and demand and whatever the whole market of tenants are willing and able to pay.
There is clearly more demand than supply, which drives prices up. Costs of ownership have also risen dramatically putting pressure on Landlords to seek more income.
Ultimately, market pressures have a way of finding an equilibrium: in this case, rising interest costs is slowing the real estate economy as loans become harder to obtain or afford. This is usually followed by rents leveling off or even declining.
Is this a complete explanation? Of course not. But it simply illustrates the basic concept that people act in their own self-interest which doesn’t mean they are greedy or cheap or heartless.
A footnote: the claim that there is 5% “halachic” rule is not reliable. One anonymous person saying it on this thread doesn’t make it so. I know Bais Dins will take a lot of factors into consideration but I doubt there is a “one size fits all” rent control rule in effect in Lakewood.
Your comment smacks of illiteracy and lack of education about the rental market systems in most parts of the nation. How are you so unaware that most jurisdictions established rent control regulations, which have been held up by the courts repeatedly.
This market, like many others, is regulated – and for good reason.
Lakewood, as well, has a longstanding Rent Control Ordinance which is the law of the land in our town. You can either accept it or live in denial. But before you speak, get yourself educated.
Boy, did you step in it. Where do you get your data for the claim that “most jurisdictions” have rent control regulations? I’d like to know because you are only 100% wrong.
Rent control is a singularly bad idea economically. While delivering temporary relief for some, in the long run, it drives landlords out of the market and suppresses new rental property construction. Therefore, people who need to rent find less and less of it available.
I am very familiar with the Lakewood Rent Control Ordinance and, as others have already noted 1. It applies to a very small percentage of units (multifamily, eg.) and 2. There is no enforcement venue since the Rent Control Board went out of business some years ago.
Before you blast someone else for ignorance, check your facts and/or look in the mirror first.
True for new tenants. Not existing tenants.
We could use an article complaining about the raises in tuition that are out of control…
I’m all for the teachers to be paid better but you can’t just raise tuition so fast. My school raised it by $2,000 which is around 70-75%.
You may complain all you want – its a free country after all (not actual advice)
In this case there is a law on the books as well a halacha that needs to abided by.
if you were paying 2800, it is way lower than we pay lekathila. None i know pays that. depends how many children you have, but still this rate is very low. ask other parents what their tuition is vs income.
There is a “halacha” that you can’t raise by more than 5%? You got to be kidding. It is a local Lakewood Bais Din “minhag Lakewood”.
Azoiy firt men zich du in shtot – type of “halacha”.
A landlord is entitled to make money off of his investment. He has to cover increases in taxes, insurance, repairs, electricity, water, etc and is still entitled to make a profit.
He doesn’t have to be a “chazir” – but that is not a “halacha” – it’s menshlechkeit.
If I have a silver store and the value of my stock doubled, do I have to sell it at the old price? Obviously not. No difference.
We are all suffering due to inflation.
Blame Biden and the Democrats, and make sure to throw the bums out in November
Sounds like the 40 million kollel check raise is just ending up in the pockets of Lakewood landlords and developers. What a shame no askan steps up and develops something within 1 hours driving distance to save yungerleit 15k a year
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