Senator RICHARD J. CODEY
District 27 (Essex and Morris)
Prohibits charging prospective tenants of affordable units credit and criminal background check fees unless unit will be available within 30 days.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning credit checks for affordable rental housing applicants and supplementing chapter 8 of Title 46 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. A property owner offering for rent low income housing or moderate income housing, as defined by section 4 of P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-304), shall not charge an applicant any fee for a credit or criminal background unless the unit for which the applicant is seeking to rent is available within 30 days of the time the applicant is charged the fee. No fee for a credit or criminal background check in an amount greater than the invoice cost to the landlord shall be charged to an applicant. If an applicant is charged a fee for a credit or criminal background check and the unit is not available within 30 days, the property owner shall refund the amount previously collected no more than 10 days after a written or oral request for a refund is made by the applicant. If the property owner does not refund the amount charged in full within the time frame described in this section, a court shall award treble damages and reasonable attorney’s fees to the applicant.
If the property owner offers a low income housing or moderate income housing unit for rent to an applicant, and the applicant declines to rent the property, the applicant shall not be entitled to a refund or damages pursuant to this section.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill prohibits a landlord from charging credit check or criminal background check fees to applicants seeking to rent an affordable housing unit unless the unit is available within 30 days. If the unit does not become available 30 days after the fee is charged, the landlord has 10 days to refund the fee in full. If the landlord does not refund the fee in full within the 10-day period, a court would award the applicant treble damages plus reasonable attorney’s fees. If the property owner offers a low income housing or moderate income housing unit for rent to an applicant, and the applicant declines to rent the property, the applicant shall not be entitled to a refund.