TRENTON – Acting Governor Sheila Oliver today signed legislation authorizing the Department of Community Affairs to establish a tiered inspection schedule of multiple dwellings and provide greater flexibility in the enforcement of the "Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law.” Current law requires the Department of Community Affairs to inspect multiple dwellings at least once every five years.
“At the end of the day, these laws are about protecting tenants from sub-standard living conditions and the bill I’m signing today will provide DCA more flexibility in the inspection process to help keep people in safe and decent housing,” said Acting Governor Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “We want to make certain that we are staying on top of the landlords who aren’t fixing violations. Our new tiered inspection schedule will provide more frequent oversight of those who are not adhering to the law.”
Under this legislation, inspection schedules will be more frequent or less frequent depending on the history of violation abatement. The DCA would establish an inspection cycle as often as once every two years for multiple dwellings that fail to abate all housing violations by the third reinspection; less frequent inspections, once every seven years, for multiple dwellings in which all violations have been abated by the first reinspection; and the five-year inspection cycle would remain for the multiple dwellings that fall in between these categories.
Primary sponsors of the legislation include Senators M. Teresa Ruiz and Brian Stack, and Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson and Benjie Wimberly.
“Poorly maintained dwellings create unsafe living conditions for our tenant population and stifle our cities. It is important that we hold habitual offenders accountable,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz. “Modifying the inspection system to focus on landlords with a history of violations will direct the state’s resources where they are needed most. It will ensure issues get resolved in a timely manner and I am grateful Acting Governor Sheila Oliver saw the value in this legislation. I also look forward to seeing my other bills concerning tenant rights and community upkeep passed by the legislature and signed into law.”
“There are far too many apartment buildings in dismal shape, forcing tenants to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions,” said Senator Brian Stack. “We have housing standards in place for a reason and this will allow us to better enforce them, resulting in better conditions for everyone.”
“Requiring inspections of multiple dwellings at least once every five years, as under previous law, encouraged a lackadaisical view of property care from landlords for multiple dwelling units,” said Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson. “A lot can happen in 5 years or nothing at all can happen in 5 years in a home. Renters should not be left to live in homes that are in disrepair. Landlords must keep up and maintain a high-quality standard of living for their tenants. This new law will help them do exactly that.”
“Too many residents are currently residing in publicly subsidized rental housing units that fail to meet minimum standards of safety and sanitation,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “Landlords who receive taxpayer money by way of rental subsidies should be held accountable and be required to provide safe and sanitary housing accommodations. Increasing inspections and providing for regular inspections for these dwellings will improve the way our residents live.”