The Waterfront Project’s program pairs housing counselors with lawyers to improve housing conditions and to stop displacement of low- and moderate-income people. WFP staff attorneys provide civil legal services to tenants, focusing on landlord tenant, elder law, rent control defense work, and public benefits advocacy to prevent homelessness and preserve safe, stable housing for low & moderate income tenants. They also assist with community education and outreach.
In-Court Assistance: The legal services provided by WFP include defending evictions in Housing Court, security deposit litigation in Small Claims Court, fighting illegal rent increases and decreases in services before the Rent Control Board, and representing residents at Jersey City Housing Authority administrative hearings.
Debt Collection Services: An unintended consequence of New Jersey’s eviction protections is an increase in debt collection cases. These debt collection cases have a lasting negative impact on tenants’ credit reports (and therefore their ability to secure an apartment) and cost them expensive legal fees. Accordingly, WFP’s housing practice expanded to include debt collection defense.
Rent Control Defense Project: The most common violation WFP attorneys find is landlords charging a rent that is higher than legally permitted by the rent control ordinance. WFP attorneys file complaints before rent control boards, which are administrative bodies tasked with enforcing the rent control laws. If WFP prevails, the tenants receive a determination awarding them the money they overpaid to their landlord. The determinations also clarify the legal rent going forward. Our rent control work stops displacement of low-income people from their communities and ensures that housing remains affordable.