SENATE BILL NO. 2422
To the Senate:
I am returning this legislation without my approval because, in an effort to encourage landlords to monitor and control the occupants of rental premises, it threatens to punish landlords for the potentially unforeseeable and isolated conduct of their tenants. Accordingly, pursuant to Article V, Section I, Paragraph 14 of the New Jersey Constitution, I am returning Senate Bill No. 2422 with my recommendations for reconsideration.
Current law authorizes a municipality to force a landlord to post a bond against the future conduct of his or her tenants, in the event that the residents of a rental premises have been convicted of disorderly conduct two or more times in a twelve-month period. This legislation would lower that threshold to a single criminal conviction for any offense. Additionally, this bill requires that any previous complaints against renters must also be considered in determining whether to impose a bond requirement.
While I do not object to expanding this law’s threshold to include any criminal conviction, I am concerned with the portion of this legislation that lowers the threshold to a single incidence. The current law’s requirement of two or more convictions ensures that it only applies to renters and rental premises that create habitual problems in the community. However, I do believe that the requirement for multiple convictions to occur within a twelve-month period is too high of a standard, in that it may allow for certain premises that do create habitual issues to fail to trigger this law. As such, I am returning this legislation with a recommendation that it will apply to any premises where there are two or more convictions for disorderly conduct or any other criminal offense, within a twenty-four month period. Additionally, I am returning this bill with the recommendation that it be amended so that the hearing officer may, but is not required to, consider past complaints against the residents of rental premises, when determining whether to impose a bond requirement.
Accordingly, I herewith return Senate Bill No. 2422 and recommend that it be amended as follows:
Page 2, Section 2, Lines 16-17: Delete “If a municipality receives a complaint of” and insert “If in any twenty-four-month period a specified number, which shall not be less than two, of complaints, on separate occasions, of”
Page 3, Section 2, Lines 3-4: Delete “shall consider relevant prior complaints presented by the municipality” and insert “may consider, to the extent deemed relevant by the hearing officer, prior complaints”
/s/ Chris Christie
/s/ Kevin M. O’Dowd
Deputy Chief Counsel to the Governor