SENATE, No. 3270

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 1, 2017

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  RONALD L. RICE

District 28 (Essex)

Senator  JENNIFER BECK

District 11 (Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes the “Safe Sanitary Subsidized Rental Housing Bill of Rights.”

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act establishing the “Safe Sanitary Subsidized Rental Housing Bill of Rights” and amending and supplementing various parts of the statutory law.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section) This act may be known and may be cited as the “Safe Sanitary Subsidized Rental Housing Bill of Rights.”

 

     2.    (New section) a. Too many residents of the State of New Jersey are currently residing in publicly subsidized, substandard rental housing, which fails to meet minimum standards of safety and sanitation;

     b.    Landlords who receive taxpayer money by way of rental subsidies should be held accountable and should be required to provide safe and sanitary housing accommodations;

     c.     Existing laws concerning registration of landlords who receive rental subsidies are too lax and allow absentee landlords to skirt responsibilities to their rental housing units and tenants, creating a dangerous environment for tenants, as well as the other members of the communities in which the rental housing units are located; and

     d.    In order to ensure that landlords who maintain deficient and dangerous rental housing do not benefit from taxpayer funds, it is appropriate for New Jersey to place additional requirements on landlords who receive rental subsidies to ensure compliance with State housing code regulations.

 

     3.    (New section)  a.  As used in this section:

     “Rental subsidy” means funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

     “Significant violation” means lack of heat, running water, or adequate sewage disposal facilities; infestation of rats, mice, roaches, termites, and other vermin; structural deficiency; and any other conditions that an inspector deems a threat to the health or safety of the tenants.

     b.    In any action before the court in which a residential tenant asserts a warranty of habitability violation by the landlord, the court shall determine whether the landlord receives a rental subsidy. If the landlord receives a rental subsidy, the court shall notify the Department of Community Affairs of the assertion within two business days.

     c.     Upon notice to the department pursuant to subsection b. of this section, the Bureau of Housing Inspection shall inspect the property within 10 days. A hearing to determine violation of the warranty of habitability shall not be set by the court prior to the completion of the inspection by the bureau. The fee for an inspection conducted pursuant to this section shall be established by the Commissioner of Community Affairs. If a significant violation of the State housing code, established by the commissioner under P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) is found, the landlord shall pay the fee. If a significant violation is not found, the tenant shall pay the fee.

     d.    If, based upon the results of the inspection conducted pursuant to subsection c. of this section, it is determined by the court that failure to pay rent was due to a violation of the warranty of habitability of the premises, the court shall direct the deposit of the tenant portion of the rental payments with a court-appointed administrator for use in remedying defective conditions, in accordance with the provisions of P.L.1971, c.221 (C.2A:42-85 et seq.). The State or housing authority, as the case may be, shall have discretion to withhold any portion of the rental subsidy until a reinspection by the bureau determines every significant violation has been remedied. The State or housing authority shall be authorized to use any withheld rental subsidy to remedy significant violations of the premises.

 

     4.    (New section)  No judgment of possession shall be entered for any premises covered by section 2 of P.L.1974, c.49, (C.2A:18-61.1), for which a landlord receives a rental subsidy, unless the landlord has been registered, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1974, c.50 (C.46:8-28), for at least 90 days.

     For the purposes of this section, “rental subsidy” means funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

 

     5.    Section 2 of P.L.1974, c.50 (C.46:8-28) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    Every landlord shall, within 30 days following the effective date of this act, or at the time of the creation of the first tenancy in any newly constructed or reconstructed building, file with the clerk of the municipality, or with such other municipal official as is designated by the clerk, in which the residential property is situated, in the case of a one-dwelling unit rental or a two-dwelling unit non-owner occupied premises, or with the Bureau of Housing Inspection in the Department of Community Affairs in the case  of a multiple dwelling as defined in section 3 of the  "Hotel and Multiple  Dwelling Law"  (C.55:13A-3), a certificate of registration on forms prescribed  by the Commissioner of Community Affairs, which shall contain the following  information:

      a.    The name and address of the record owner or owners of the premises and the record owner or owners of the rental business if not the same persons.  In the case of a partnership the names of all general partners shall be provided;

      b.   If the record owner is a corporation, the name and address of the registered agent and corporate officers of said corporation;

      c.    If the address of any record owner is not located in the county in which  the premises are located, the name and address of a person who resides in the  county in which the premises are located and is authorized to accept notices  from a tenant and to issue receipts therefor and to accept service of process  on behalf of the record owner;

      d.   The name and address of the managing agent of the premises, if any;

      e.    The name and address, including the dwelling unit, apartment or room number of the superintendent, janitor, custodian or other individual employed by the record owner or managing agent to provide regular maintenance service, if any;

      f.    The name, address and telephone number of an individual representative of the record owner or managing agent who may be reached or contacted at any time in the event of an emergency affecting the premises or any unit of dwelling space therein, including such emergencies as the failure of any essential service or system, and who has the authority to make emergency decisions concerning the building and any repair thereto or expenditure in connection therewith and shall, at all times, have access to a current list of building tenants that shall be made available to emergency personnel as required in the event of an emergency;

      g.   The name and address of every holder of a recorded mortgage on the premises;

      h.   If fuel oil is used to heat the building and the landlord furnishes the heat in the building, the name and address of the fuel oil dealer servicing the building and the grade of fuel oil used. 

      i.    In addition to the requirements set forth in subsections a. through h. of this section, if the landlord receives a rental subsidy, the registration also shall include:

     (1) in the case of a record owner that is a corporation, limited liability company, or other legal or commercial entity, the names and street addresses of residence of the members, directors, officers, and registered agents, as applicable; and

     (2)   for each person required to be named in the registration:

     (a)   two telephone numbers, including at least one cell phone number;

     (b)   a street address of residence; and

     (c)   an active email address;

     j.     A landlord who accepts rental subsidies may not be granted State funding, or a tax abatement or exemption, for rehabilitation of a premises unless the landlord has been registered pursuant to this section for at least 90 days;

     k.    For the purposes of this section, “rental subsidy” means funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

 (cf: P.L.2003, c.56, s.2)

 

     6.    Section 4 of P.L.1981, c.442 (C.46:8-28.2) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    Every landlord required to file a certificate of registration as described in section 2 of P.L.1974, c.50 (C.46:8-28) shall :

     a.     file an amended certificate of registration within 20 days after any change in the information required to be included thereon.  No fee shall be required for the filing of an amendment except where the ownership of the premises is changed.

     b.    in the case of a landlord who receives a rental subsidy,  annually certify, by November 1, that the certificate of registration is accurate and contains current information.  For the purposes of this subsection, “rental subsidy” means funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

(cf: PL.1981, c.442, s. 4.)

 

     7.    Section 9 of P.L.1974, c.50 (C.46:8-35) is amended to read as follows:

     9.    [Any] a. A landlord who [shall violate] violates any provision of this act shall be liable to a penalty of not more than [$500.00] $500 for each offense [, recoverable by a summary proceeding under "the penalty enforcement law" (N.J.S.2A:58-1 et seq.)] , except that a landlord who receives a rental subsidy shall be liable to a penalty of not less than $100 or more than $2,500, for a violation of section 4 of P.L.1981, c.442 (C.46:8-28.2).

     b.    The penalties set forth in subsection a. of this section shall be collected in a civil action by a summary proceeding under the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.). The Superior Court, Law Division, Special Civil Part in the county or the municipal court of the municipality in which the premises are located shall have jurisdiction to enforce [said] the penalty. 

     The Attorney General, the municipality in which the premises are located, or any other person may institute the proceeding; where the municipality or any other person other than the Attorney General institutes the proceeding, a recovered penalty should be remitted by the court to the municipality in which the premises subject to the proceeding are located. 

      c.    For the purposes of this section, “rental subsidy” means funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

(cf: P.L.1991, c.91, s.458)

 

      8.   (New section) The following information shall be posted in every common area of any multiple dwelling that contains units for which a landlord receives rental subsidies and shall be contained in a printed notice, conspicuously set forth in prominent boldface type, in every lease offered to a tenant in a multiple dwelling:

      a.    Instructions on how to file a tenant complaint with the Department of Community Affairs, Bureau of Housing Inspection; and

      b.   Instructions on how to access and use the 2-1-1 telephone system, which provides information and referrals to health, human, and social service organizations, including information concerning housing resources.   

 

      9.   (New section) a. If a landlord who receives a rental subsidy enters any information into a shared database concerning eviction proceedings brought against a residential tenant for non-payment of rent, the landlord shall include the following information, which shall be permanently attached to the tenant’s record in the database:

     (1)   whether a finding was made on the record, in accordance with the provisions of section 3 of P.L.   , c.   (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), that the non-payment of rent was due to a significant violation of the warranty of habitability of the premises; and

     (2)   the disposition of the proceedings.

      b.   A landlord or an owner of the shared database who violates the provisions of section a. of this section shall be liable to a penalty of $500 for each offense, which  shall be collected in a civil action by a summary proceeding under the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

      c.    For the purposes of this section, “rental subsidy” means funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

 

     10.  (New section) a. As used in this section:

     “Significant violation” means lack of heat, running water, or adequate sewage disposal facilities; infestation of rats, mice, roaches, termites, and other vermin; structural deficiency; and any other conditions that an inspector deems a threat to the health or safety of the tenant; and

     “Rental subsidy means funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

     b.    If it is determined that a significant violation of the State housing code is found during an inspection conducted by a municipality or by the Bureau of Housing Inspection, in accordance with subsection a. of section 14 of P.L.   , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), of a unit for which the landlord receives a rental subsidy, and the violation is not repaired within the timeframe specified by the municipal inspecting authority or pursuant to subsection c. of section 14 of P.L.   , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the State or the housing authority, as the case may be, shall have the discretion to withhold any portion of the rental subsidy until a reinspection conducted by the municipal inspecting authority or by the bureau determines every significant violation has been remedied. The State shall be authorized to use any withheld rental subsidy to remedy significant violations of the State housing code located on the premises.

 

     11.  Section 20 of P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-320) is amended to read as follows:

     20.  There is established in the Department of Community Affairs a separate trust fund, to be used for the exclusive purposes as provided in this section, and which shall be known as the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund."  The fund shall be a non-lapsing, revolving trust fund, and all monies deposited or received for purposes of the fund shall be accounted for separately, by source and amount, and remain in the fund until appropriated for such purposes.  The fund shall be the repository of all State funds appropriated for affordable housing purposes, including, but not limited to, the proceeds from the receipts of the additional fee collected pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection a. of section 3 of P.L.1968, c.49 (C.46:15-7), proceeds from available receipts of the Statewide non-residential development fees collected pursuant to section 35 of P.L.2008, c.46 (C.40:55D-8.4), monies lapsing or reverting from municipal development trust funds, or other monies as may be dedicated, earmarked, or appropriated by the Legislature for the purposes of the fund.  All references in any law, order, rule, regulation, contract, loan, document, or otherwise, to the "Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund" shall mean the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund."  The department shall be permitted to utilize annually up to 7.5 percent of the monies available in the fund for the payment of any necessary administrative costs related to the administration of the "Fair Housing Act," P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-301 et al.), or any costs related to administration of P.L.2008, c.46 (C.52:27D-329.1 et al.).

      a.    Except as permitted pursuant to subsection g. of this section, and by section 41 of P.L.2009, c.90 (C.52:27D-320.1), the commissioner shall award grants or loans from this fund for housing projects and programs in municipalities whose housing elements have received substantive certification from the council, in municipalities receiving State aid pursuant to P.L.1978, c.14 (C.52:27D-178 et seq.), in municipalities subject to a builder's remedy as defined in section 28 of P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-328) or in receiving municipalities in cases where the council has approved a regional contribution agreement and a project plan developed by the receiving municipality.

     Of those monies deposited into the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund" that are derived from municipal development fee trust funds, or from available collections of Statewide non-residential development fees, a priority for funding shall be established for projects in municipalities that have petitioned the council for substantive certification.

     Programs and projects in any municipality shall be funded only after receipt by the commissioner of a written statement in support of the program or project from the municipal governing body.

      b.   The commissioner shall establish rules and regulations governing the qualifications of applicants, the application procedures, and the criteria for awarding grants and loans and the standards for establishing the amount, terms and conditions of each grant or loan.

      c.    For any period which the council may approve, the commissioner may assist affordable housing programs which are not located in municipalities whose housing elements have been granted substantive certification or which are not in furtherance of a regional contribution agreement; provided that the affordable housing program will meet all or part of a municipal low and moderate income housing obligation.

      d.   Amounts deposited in the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund" shall be targeted to regions based on the region's percentage of the State's low and moderate income housing need as determined by the council.  Amounts in the fund shall be applied for the following purposes in designated neighborhoods:

     (1)   Rehabilitation of substandard housing units occupied or to be occupied by low and moderate income households;

     (2)   Creation of accessory apartments to be occupied by low and moderate income households;

     (3)   Conversion of non-residential space to residential purposes; provided a substantial percentage of the resulting housing units are to be occupied by low and moderate income households;

     (4)   Acquisition of real property, demolition and removal of buildings, or construction of new housing that will be occupied by low and moderate income households, or any combination thereof;

     (5)   Grants of assistance to eligible municipalities for costs of necessary studies, surveys, plans and permits; engineering, architectural and other technical services; costs of land acquisition and any buildings thereon; and costs of site preparation, demolition and infrastructure development for projects undertaken pursuant to an approved regional contribution agreement;

     (6)   Assistance to a local housing authority, nonprofit or limited dividend housing corporation or association or a qualified entity acting as a receiver under P.L.2003, c.295 (C.2A:42-114 et al.) for rehabilitation or restoration of housing units which it administers which: (a) are unusable or in a serious state of disrepair; (b) can be restored in an economically feasible and sound manner; and (c) can be retained in a safe, decent and sanitary manner, upon completion of rehabilitation or restoration; and

     (7)   Other housing programs for low and moderate income housing, including, without limitation,

     (a)   infrastructure projects directly facilitating the construction of low and moderate income housing not to exceed a reasonable percentage of the construction costs of the low and moderate income housing to be provided and

     (b)   alteration of dwelling units occupied or to be occupied by households of low or moderate income and the common areas of the premises in which they are located in order to make them accessible to handicapped persons.

      e.    Any grant or loan agreement entered into pursuant to this section shall incorporate contractual guarantees and procedures by which the division will ensure that any unit of housing provided for low and moderate income households shall continue to be occupied by low and moderate income households for at least 20 years following the award of the loan or grant, except that the division may approve a guarantee for a period of less than 20 years where necessary to ensure project feasibility.

      f.    Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, rule or regulation to the contrary, in making grants or loans under this section, the department shall not require that tenants be certified as low or moderate income or that contractual guarantees or deed restrictions be in place to ensure continued low and moderate income occupancy as a condition of providing housing assistance from any program administered by the department, when that assistance is provided for a project of moderate rehabilitation if the project (1) contains 30 or fewer rental units and (2) is located in a census tract in which the median household income is 60 percent or less of the median income for the housing region in which the census tract is located, as determined for a three person household by the council in accordance with the latest federal decennial census. A list of eligible census tracts shall be maintained by the department and shall be adjusted upon publication of median income figures by census tract after each federal decennial census.

     g.    In addition to other grants or loans awarded pursuant to this section, and without regard to any limitations on such grants or loans for any other purposes herein imposed, the commissioner shall annually allocate such amounts as may be necessary in the commissioner's discretion, and in accordance with section 3 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.3), to fund rental assistance grants under the program created pursuant to P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1 et al.).  Such rental assistance grants shall be deemed necessary and authorized pursuant to P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-301 et al.), in order to meet the housing needs of certain low income households who may not be eligible to occupy other housing produced pursuant to P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-301 et al.).

     h.    The department and the State Treasurer shall submit the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund" for an audit annually by the State Auditor or State Comptroller, at the discretion of the Treasurer.  In addition, the department shall prepare an annual report for each fiscal year, and submit it by November 30th of each year to the Governor and the Legislature, and the Joint Committee on Housing Affordability, or its successor, and post the information to its web site, of all activity of the fund, including details of the grants and loans by number of units, number and income ranges of recipients of grants or loans, location of the housing renovated or constructed using monies from the fund, the number of units upon which affordability controls were placed, and the length of those controls.  The report also shall include details pertaining to those monies allocated from the fund for use by the State rental assistance program pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.3) and subsection g. of this section.

     i.     The commissioner may award or grant the amount of any appropriation deposited in the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund" pursuant to section 41 of P.L.2009, c.90 (C.52:27D-320.1) to municipalities pursuant to the provisions of section 39 of P.L.2009, c.90 (C.40:55D-8.8).

     j.     Notwithstanding any provision of law or any other provision of this section to the contrary, the commissioner shall prioritize the award or grant of amounts available from the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund" to each municipality that has been granted substantive certification or the equivalent by a court of competent jurisdiction, and has included in the housing element of the municipality’s master plan a provision encouraging the rehabilitation of substandard dwelling units and the dedication of those dwelling units for rental as low income housing by deed restriction for a period of at least 20 years.  The commissioner shall award or grant amounts of up to $15,000 per unit for each unit so dedicated representing no more than ten percent of a municipality’s overall fair share obligation.  In the event applications in any year exceed the amount of funds allocated to and available for this purpose, the commissioner shall prioritize the award or grant funds as follows:

     (1)   target the award or grant of funds to housing regions based on the percentage of the State's low and moderate income housing need in each region; and

     (2)   target the award or grant of funds to property owners that have a demonstrated history of, or pledge to accept in the future, amounts paid under the federal Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program, amounts paid as rental assistance grants under section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1), or both.

(cf: P.L.2013, c.253, s.49)

 

     12.  (New section)  Notwithstanding any provision of law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, a municipality may satisfy up to ten percent of its obligation to provide a fair share of the region's present and prospective need for affordable housing by establishing a program encouraging the rehabilitation of substandard dwelling units and the dedication of rehabilitated units for rental as low income housing for periods of at least 20 years.  A municipality may accept funds from any source, including a municipal affordable housing trust fund, the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund," established pursuant to section 20 of P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-320), any other State entity, and the federal government, for the purpose of awarding or granting payments to property owners as incentives for the rehabilitation of substandard dwelling units and the dedication of those units for rental as low income housing for periods of up to 20 years.

 

     13.  Section 13 of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-13) is amended to read as follows:

     13.  (a) [Each] Except as provided in section 14 of P.L.   , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), multiple dwelling and each  hotel shall be inspected at least once in every five years for the purpose of determining the extent to which each hotel or multiple dwelling complies with the provisions of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) and regulations promulgated hereunder.

     (b)   Within 90 days of the most recent inspection, the owner of each hotel shall file with the commissioner, upon forms provided by the commissioner, an application for a certificate of inspection.  Said application shall include such information as the commissioner shall prescribe to enforce the provisions of this law.  Said application shall be accompanied by a fee as follows: $15 per unit of dwelling space for the first 20 units of dwelling space in any building or project, $12 per unit of dwelling space for the 21st through 100th unit in any building or project, $8 per unit of dwelling space for the 101st through 250th unit in any building or project, and $5 per unit of dwelling space for all units over 250 in any building or project, except that in the case of hotels open and operating less than six months in each year the fee shall be one-half that which would otherwise be required.  A certificate of inspection and the fees therefor shall not be required more often than once every five years.

     Additionally, there shall be reinspection fees for hotels in the amount of $10 for each dwelling unit reinspected.

     Within 90  days of the most recent inspection of any multiple dwelling occupied or intended to be occupied by three or more persons living independently of each other, the owner of each such multiple dwelling shall file with the commissioner, upon forms provided by the commissioner, an application for a certificate of inspection.  Said application shall include such information as the commissioner shall prescribe to enforce the provisions of this law.  Said application shall be accompanied by a fee of $33 per unit of dwelling space for the first 7 units in any building or project, $21 per unit of dwelling space for the 8th through the 24th unit in any building or project, $18 per unit for the 25th through the 48th unit in any building or project, and $12 per unit of dwelling space for all units of dwelling space over 48 in any building or project, provided that the maximum total fee for owner-occupied three-unit multiple dwellings shall be limited to $65 for owners having a household income that is less than 80 percent of the median income for households of similar size in the county in which the multiple dwelling is located, and the maximum total fee for owner-occupied four-unit multiple dwellings shall be limited to $80 for owners having a household income that is less than 80 percent of the median income for households of similar size in the county in which the multiple dwelling is located.  A certificate of inspection and the fees therefor shall not be required more often than once every five years

     Additionally, there shall be reinspection fees for multiple dwellings in the amount of $40 for each dwelling unit reinspected, but only after the first reinspection.

     The commissioner may waive the inspection fee for any unit upon a finding that the unit has been thoroughly inspected within the previous 12-month period under a municipal ordinance requiring inspection upon change of occupancy in accordance with the maintenance standards established by the commissioner under P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.), and has received a municipal certificate of occupancy as a result of that inspection.

     A multiple dwelling subject to the provisions of section 14 of P.L.   , c.    (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and which is located in a municipality that does not have a municipal ordinance requiring inspection upon change of occupancy shall be inspected by the Bureau of Housing Inspection upon change of occupancy. A landlord of a multiple dwelling subject to such inspection by the bureau shall provide the bureau with notice of the pending change of occupancy of a unit as soon as is practicable, so that the bureau may inspect the premises prior to a new tenant occupying the unit. The fee for an inspection upon change of occupancy shall be established by the commissioner.

     If the commissioner finds that (1) a building has been thoroughly inspected prior to resale since the most recent inspection in accordance with this section, (2) the inspection prior to resale was conducted by the municipality in accordance with the maintenance standards established by the commissioner under P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.), and (3) a municipal certificate of occupancy was issued as a result of that inspection, the commissioner may accept the inspection done prior to resale in lieu of a current inspection under this section.  If the commissioner accepts an inspection prior to resale in lieu of a current inspection, no fee shall be charged for any inspection done by the commissioner within five years after the date of the inspection so accepted.

     (c)   If the commissioner determines, as a result of the most recent inspection of any hotel or multiple dwelling as required by subsection (a) of this section, that any hotel or multiple dwelling complies with the provisions of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) and regulations promulgated hereunder, then the commissioner shall issue to the owner thereof, upon receipt of the application and fee as required by subsection (b) of this section, a certificate of inspection.  Any owner to whom a certificate of inspection is issued shall keep said certificate posted in a conspicuous location in the hotel or multiple dwelling to which the certificate applies.  The certificate of inspection shall be in such form as may be prescribed by the commissioner.

     The commissioner may, upon finding a consistent pattern of compliance with the maintenance standards established under P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) in at least 20 percent of the units in a building or project, issue a certificate of inspection for the building or project, in which case the inspection fee shall be charged on the basis of the number of units inspected.

     The commissioner may by rule establish standards for self-inspection by condominium associations exercising control over buildings of not more than three stories, constructed after 1976, and certified by the local enforcing agency having jurisdiction as being in compliance with the Uniform Fire Code promulgated pursuant to P.L.1983, c.383 (C.52:27D-192 et seq.), in which at least 80 percent of the dwelling units are occupied by the unit owners.  The commissioner shall issue a certificate of acceptance, which shall be in lieu of a certificate of inspection, upon acceptance of any such self-inspection and upon payment of a fee of $25.

     (d)   If the commissioner determines, as a result of the most recent inspection of any hotel or multiple dwelling as required by subsection (a) of this section, that any hotel or multiple dwelling does not comply with the provisions of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) and regulations promulgated thereunder, then the commissioner shall issue to the owner thereof a written notice stating the manner in which any such hotel or multiple dwelling does not comply with P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) or regulations promulgated thereunder.  Said notice shall fix such date, not less than 60 days nor more than 180 days, on or before which any such hotel or multiple dwelling must comply with the provisions of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) and regulations promulgated thereunder. If any such hotel or multiple dwelling is made to comply with the provisions of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) and regulations promulgated thereunder on or before the date fixed in said notice, then the commissioner shall issue to the owner thereof a certificate of inspection as described in subsection (c) of this section.  If any such hotel or multiple dwelling is not made to comply with the provisions of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) and regulations promulgated thereunder on or before the date fixed in said notice, then the commissioner shall not issue to the owner thereof a certificate of inspection as described in subsection (c) of this section, and shall enforce the provisions of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) against the owner thereof.

     (e)   The commissioner shall annually review the cost of implementing and enforcing P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.), including the cost to municipalities of carrying out inspections pursuant to section 21 of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-21), and shall establish by rule, not more frequently than once every three years, such fees as may be necessary to cover the costs of such implementation and enforcement; provided, however, that any increase or decrease shall be applied as a uniform percentage to each category of fee established herein, and provided, further, that the percentage amount of any increase shall not exceed the percentage increase in salaries paid to State employees since the then current fee schedule was established.  The commissioner shall provide by rule to owners the option of paying inspection fees in installments in the form of an annual fee.  The commissioner shall annually prepare and file with the presiding officers of the Senate and General Assembly and the legislative committees having jurisdiction in housing matters a report setting forth the amounts of fees and penalties received by the Bureau of Housing Inspection, the cost to the bureau of enforcing this act, and information concerning the productivity of the bureau.  Copies of the report shall also be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law for publication in the New Jersey Register.  If in any State fiscal year the fee revenue received by the bureau exceeds the cost of enforcement of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.), the excess revenue shall be distributed pro rata to persons who paid inspection fees during that fiscal year. Such distribution shall be made within three months after the end of the fiscal year.

     (f)   Except as otherwise provided in section 2 of P.L.1991, c.179 (C.55:13A-26.1), the fees established by or pursuant to the provisions of this section are dedicated to meeting the costs of implementing and enforcing P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.) and shall not be used for any other purpose.  All receipts in excess of $2,200,000 are hereby appropriated for the purposes of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.).

(cf: P.L.2013, c.253, s.56)

 

     14.  (New section)  a. As used in this act:

     “Rental subsidy” means funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

     “Significant violation” means lack of heat, running water, or adequate sewage disposal facilities; infestation of rats, mice, roaches, termites, and other vermin; structural deficiency; and any other conditions that an inspector deems a threat to the health or safety of the tenants.

      b.   Notwithstanding the provisions set forth in section 13 of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-13), the Commissioner of Community Affairs shall establish a rental inspection and reinspection program for multiple dwelling units for which a landlord receives a rental subsidy. Pursuant to this section, a multiple dwelling unit shall be inspected:

     (1) at least once every five years, except as set forth is subsection d. and g. of this section;

     (2) within 10 days of complaint filed by a tenant, alleging one or more significant violations upon the premises, unless the complaint alleges a violation that is life threatening to tenants, in which case the Bureau of Housing Inspection shall inspect within 24 hours of the complaint being filed; and

     (3) within 10 days of receipt of notice of a change of occupancy, pursuant to section 13 of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-13).

      c.    A multiple dwelling unit found to have any significant violations during an inspection conducted pursuant to subsection b. of this section shall be reinspected by the bureau in accordance with the following schedule, until every significant violation has been remedied:

     (1)   within 24 hours, if the significant violation is deemed to be life threatening to tenants;

     (2)   within 30 days, for a significant violation of the State housing code, established by the commissioner under P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-1 et seq.); and

     (3)   not less than 180 days or more than 365 days following the last reinspection conducted pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, during which no significant violations were found.

      d.   If a significant violation is found following an inspection conducted pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection b. of this section or following a reinspection conducted pursuant to subsection c. of this section, the commissioner shall:

     (1)   notify, if applicable, the public housing authority that operates the multiple dwelling within 48 hours of the inspection or reinspection;

     (2)   notify the mayor and the council of the municipality in which the multiple dwelling is located, which notification shall take the form of an electronic report that includes a summary of the significant violations found at each multiple dwelling, with detailed information available upon request. In the case of a significant violation determined to be life threatening to tenants, the mayor and council shall be notified within 48 hours. For all other significant violations, the notification shall take place within five business days; and

     (3)   in the case of a multiple dwelling that participates in federal section 8 housing, notify the Department of Housing and Urban Development New Jersey field officer of the complaint and violation. 

      e.    The commissioner shall urge the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide notification to the bureau of the results of any inspection conducted in accordance with federal regulations if significant violations were found.

     f.     The commissioner shall establish a scoring method to be conducted annually of multiple dwellings that have units inspected pursuant to subsection b. of this section, which shall include, but not be limited to the following criteria:

     (1)   the number of significant violations found during any inspection conducted by the bureau;

     (2)   the number of reinspections conducted pursuant subsection b. of this section;

     (3)   the number of administrative citations and special assessments issued by the municipality in which the multiple dwelling is located;

     (4)   the number of letters of intent to condemn a property for lack of maintenance;

     (5)   the results of any inspection conducted by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, if that information has been provided to the commissioner; and

     (6)   in the case of a multiple dwelling that has been scored in the lowest performing 20 percent of multiple dwellings Statewide, in accordance with subsection g. of this section, whether the multiple dwelling has passed the four most recent consecutive inspections conducted on the schedule set forth in paragraph (2) of subsection g. of this section.

      g.   Utilizing the scoring method developed pursuant to subsection f. of this section and any other criteria set forth in regulations promulgated by the commissioner, the commissioner shall annually determine the highest performing 20 percent and lowest performing 20 percent of multiple dwellings Statewide. There shall be a presumption that a multiple dwelling that has passed inspections, in the manner set forth in paragraph (6) of subsection f. of this section, shall not be scored by the commissioner in the lowest performing 20 percent.   

     (1)   A multiple dwelling scored in the highest performing 20 percent, and which has not received a significant violation in either of the prior two five-year inspection cycles, may be inspected once every eight years, and the inspection fee may be paid at that time. The bureau may conduct random spot checks, or inspections based upon tenant complaints in accordance with subsection b. of this section, at any time during the eight years between full inspections, and if any significant violations are found, or if any significant violations are found during an inspection conducted by a municipality, the multiple dwelling will lose its designation and will be subject to the inspection schedule set forth in subsection a. and the reinspection schedule set forth in subsection b. of this section; and     

     (2)   A multiple dwelling scored in the lowest performing 20 percent shall be inspected at least once every six months. If the multiple dwelling passes two consecutive biannual inspections without any significant violations found, the multiple dwelling shall be inspected once every two years. A multiple dwelling so designated shall remain on this inspection schedule until such time as the commissioner determines that the multiple dwelling is no longer in the lowest performing 20 percent. Following designation outside of the lowest performing 20 percent, a multiple dwelling shall be inspected in accordance with paragraph (1) of subsection b. of this section.

      h.   A landlord subject to paying a reinspection fee pursuant to subsection c. of this section shall undergo at least 10 hours of training in municipal code requirements, and any cost associated with this training shall be paid by the landlord.

 

     15.  (New section)  a. Notwithstanding any law or regulation to the contrary, if an applicant for an award, grant, or other disbursement of public funding opportunities related to development of real property or other economic development is a current or former owner of a multiple dwelling determined by the Commissioner of Community Affairs, pursuant to subsection g. of section 14 of P.L.   , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), to be in the lowest performing 20 percent of multiple dwellings Statewide, the applicant shall disclose this information to the awarding authority, and the awarding authority shall take such disclosure into consideration during the application process. 

     b.    If an awarding authority awards, grants, or otherwise disburses public funding opportunities to an applicant who makes a disclosure pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the awarding authority shall notify the commissioner.

     c.     The commissioner shall annually report to the Legislature, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), any notifications received pursuant to subsection b. of this section, and with recommendations concerning any changes to statutory law concerning restrictions or prohibitions on award of funds.

 

     16.  (New section)  a. The Commissioner of Community Affairs shall establish, in consultation with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, a program to assist municipalities in making inspection records of inspections conducted pursuant to section 14 of P.L.   , c.   (C.   ) (pending before the legislation as this bill) and landlord information records for any landlord who receives a rental subsidy available to the public on the Internet, funded by fees paid by landlords.

     b.    For the purposes of this section, “rental subsidy” means funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

 

     17.  This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month next following enactment, except that the Commissioner of Community Affairs may take any anticipatory action in advance as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.  

 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     Too many residents of the State of New Jersey are currently residing in publicly subsidized rental housing units that fail to meet minimum standards of safety and sanitation.  Landlords who receive taxpayer money by way of rental subsidies should be held accountable and should be required to provide safe and sanitary housing accommodations. 

     Accordingly, this bill implements various changes to State rental housing laws for landlords who receive rental housing subsidies, in the areas of landlord registration requirements, inspection of multiple dwellings, warranty of habitability, and distribution of certain information.

 

Rental Subsidy

     The bill defines a “rental subsidy” as funds paid to a landlord pursuant to federal project-based or tenant-based section 8 rental assistance or paid as a rental assistance grant pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).

 

Landlord Registration

     Current law requires landlords to register with the municipality in which the rental premises is located, or with the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), depending on circumstances. Under the bill, a landlord who receives rental subsidies is required to include the following additional information in a landlord registration:

     (1)   in the case of a record owner that is a corporation, limited liability company, or other legal or commercial entity, the names and street addresses of residence of the members, directors, officers, and registered agents, as applicable; and

     (2)   for each person required to be named in the registration –  two telephone numbers, including at least one cell phone number;  a street address of residence; and an active email address.

     The bill also specifies that in order to be granted a judgment of possession of a rental premises, or to receive any public funds for rehabilitation of a rental premises, a landlord is required to have been registered for at least 90 days.

     Landlords are currently required to file an amended registration within 20 days of any change of information included in the registration. Violation of this provision results in a civil penalty of up to $500. Under the bill, a landlord who receives a rental subsidy and who fails to comply with the amended registration requirements will be liable to a civil penalty of not less than $100 or more than $2,500. Additionally, the bill requires every landlord who receives a rental subsidy to certify annually by November 1 that the registration is accurate and contains current information. Failure to annually certify will also result in a civil penalty of $100 to $2,500.

    

Rehabilitation for affordable housing units

     The bill provides that a municipality may satisfy up to 10 percent of its obligation to provide a fair share of the region's present and prospective need for affordable housing by establishing a program encouraging the rehabilitation of substandard dwelling units and the dedication of rehabilitated units for rental as low income housing for periods of up to twenty years.

     Under the bill, the Commissioner of DCA will award or grant funds available from the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund” in amounts of up to $15,000 per unit for this purpose. The commissioner is required to: (1) target the award or grant of funds to housing regions based on the percentage of the State's low and moderate income housing need in each region; and (2) target the award or grant of funds to property owners that have a demonstrated history of, or pledge to accept in the future, rental subsidies.

Inspection and Scoring of Multiple Dwellings

     The bill requires the Commissioner of Community Affairs to establish a rental inspection and reinspection program for multiple dwellings that contain units for which a rental subsidy is received. Under the provisions of the bill, a multiple dwelling will be inspected:

     (1)   at least once every five years;

     (2)   within 10 days of receipt of notice of a change of occupancy for a multiple dwelling located in a municipality that does not provide for a change of occupancy inspection through ordinance.

     (3)   within 10 days of complaint filed by a tenant, alleging one or more significant violations upon the premises, unless the complaint alleges a violation that is life threatening to tenants, in which case the bureau is required to inspect within 24 hours of the complaint being filed.

     The bill further provides that a multiple dwelling found to have any significant violations will be reinspected according to the following schedule, until every significant violation has been remedied:

     (1)   within 24 hours, if the significant violation is deemed to be life threatening to tenants;

     (2)   within 30 days;

     (3)   for any other significant violation, within 60 days; and

     (4)   though a follow up inspection, six months to one year after the reinspection producing a satisfactory result.

     Pursuant to the bill, the commissioner will establish a scoring method to be conducted annually, which will include, but not be limited to the following criteria:

     (1)   the number of violations found during any inspection conducted by the Bureau of Housing Inspection (BHI);

     (2)   the number of significant violations;

     (3)   the number of administrative citations and special assessments issued by the municipality in which the multiple dwelling is located;

     (4)   the number of letters of intent to condemn a property for lack of maintenance;

     (5)   the results of any inspection conducted in the prior year by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, if that information has been provided to the commissioner; and

     (6)   whether the multiple dwelling has been scored in the lowest performing 20 percent in the past, and whether it has successfully passed four consecutive inspections since the designation.

     The fees associated with inspections and reinspections will be paid by the landlord according to a fee schedule established by the commissioner. Additionally, a landlord whose premises was found to have a significant violation will be required to attend 10 hours of training and will bear any expense incurred by the training.

     If a significant violation is found following an inspection, the commissioner is required to:

     (1)   notify, if applicable, the public housing authority that operates the multiple dwelling within 48 hours of the inspection or reinspection;

     (2)   notify the mayor and the council of the municipality in which the multiple dwelling is located, within 48 hours if a significant violation is life threatening, or within five business days for all other significant violations; and

     (3)   in the case of a multiple dwelling that participates in federal section 8 housing, notify the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) New Jersey field officer of the complaint and violation.  The bill also requires the commissioner to urge HUD to report inspection violations discovered pursuant to federal regulation to DCA.

     Utilizing the scoring method set forth in the bill, the commissioner is required to annually determine:

     (1)   the highest performing 20 percent of multiple dwellings Statewide. If a multiple dwelling achieves this designation, and has not received a significant violation in either of the prior two five-year inspection cycles, the multiple dwelling may be inspected once every eight years. BHI may conduct random spot checks or inspections based upon tenant complaints at any time during the eight years between full inspections. If any significant violations are found by BHI, or if any significant violations are found during an inspection conducted by a municipality, the multiple dwelling will lose its designation and will be subject to the inspection schedule set forth in this bill for significant violations; and

     (2)   the lowest performing 20 percent of multiple dwellings Statewide. If a multiple dwelling achieves this designation, it will be inspected at least once every six months. If the multiple dwelling passes two consecutive biannual inspections, it will be inspected once every two years. A multiple dwelling so designated shall remain on a biannual inspection schedule until such time as the commissioner determines that the multiple dwelling is no longer in the lowest performing 20 percent. The dwelling will also be subject to inspections in response to a tenant complaint and change of occupancy inspections.

     The bill provides that if a tenant of a multiple dwelling files a complaint with BHI, alleging one or more significant violations upon the premises, BHI is required to inspect the property within 10 days of the complaint being filed, unless the complaint alleges a violation life threatening to tenants, in which case BHI is required to inspect within 24 hours of the complaint being filed.

     The bill also provides that if a multiple dwelling is located in a municipality that does not require change of occupancy inspections by ordinance, BHI will conduct change of occupancy inspections.

     The bill defines a “significant violation” as a lack of heat, running water, or adequate sewage disposal facilities, infestation of rats, mice, roaches, termites, and other vermin, structural deficiency, and any other conditions that an inspector deems a threat to the health or safety of the tenants.

 

Warranty of Habitability

     The bill provides that any in action before the court in which a tenant asserts a warrant of habitability violation by a landlord who accepts a rental subsidy, the court is required to notify DCA within two business days. Upon notice to DCA, BHI is required to inspect the property within 10 days. A hearing to determine violation of the warranty of habitability may not be set by the court prior to the completion of the inspection by the bureau.

     If it is determined by the court that failure to pay rent was due to a significant violation of the warranty of habitability of the premises, the court will direct the deposit of the tenant portion of rental payments with a court-appointed administrator for use in remedying the defective condition. The State or public housing authority, as the case may be, will retain the discretion to withhold any portion of the rental subsidy until a reinspection by BHI determines every significant violation has been remedied.

 

Information made available to tenants

     The bill provides that every landlord is required to post in every common area of a tenant-occupied multiple dwelling and include in a printed notice in the lease:

     (1)   instructions on how to file a tenant complaint with BHI; and

     (2)   instructions on how to access and use the 2-1-1 telephone system, which provides information and referrals to health, human, and social service organizations, including information concerning housing resources.

 

Restrictions on State and local funding

     The bill further provides that prior to the award of public funding opportunities, including tax credit financing, related to development of real property or other economic development, the awarding authority is to consider whether the applicant is an owner of a multiple dwelling determined to be in the lowest performing 20 percent of multiple dwellings Statewide. If the public funding is awarded to such an owner, the awarding authority is required to notify DCA and the commissioner is required to submit an annual report to the Legislature of these awards and with recommendations about any suggested limitations or prohibitions related to public funding.