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General Assembly Advances Bills to Address Inspection Violations in Hotels and Multiple Dwelling Facilities

The legislation would ensure residents and guests are aware of hazardous conditions and would penalize landlords for habitability violations

(TRENTON) – The General Assembly today advanced two bills aimed at preventing future injury or building condemnations due to multiple inspection violations that could lead to potentially hazardous situations. Bill A-5755, sponsored by Assembly Democrats Linda Carter, Shavonda Sumter, and Benjie E. Wimberly requires the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to notify municipal elected officials, certain municipal employees, and tenants of the potentially hazardous inspection violations.

Assemblywoman Carter sponsored the legislation following the condemnation of a two multi-family apartment buildings in Plainfield that displaced dozens of residents and tenants this past summer. In August, the complex was condemned and given a 24-hour notice to vacate residents following the uncovering of 235 inspection violations after residents had made multiple calls to local elected officials about the hazardous code violations.

“When Plainfield faced the grave situation of finding housing for hundreds of displaced tenants multiple times, we knew this was a matter of public safety,” said Assemblywoman Carter (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “Proactive measures like those outlined in the legislation help us maintain safe living conditions throughout the state, preventing harm and ensuring the well-being of our communities.”

Assemblywoman Carter noted that the bills aim to curtail future similar incidents that leave a community scrambling to find shelter for tenants who are suddenly without housing.

““Tenants deserve transparency when it comes to potentially dangerous conditions in their residence,” said Assemblywoman Sumter, (D- Bergen, Passaic). “Timely notifications and occupancy restrictions are crucial in ensuring the safety of our residents. Health and safety should always be at the forefront of housing and is essential to the wellness of our citizens.”

Under the legislation, if violations are not addressed in a timely manner, the bill would require an owner or operator of the hotel or multiple dwelling to provide a hard copy of the notice to each existing resident or guest as well as submit a notice to the municipality in which they are located. In addition, they would have to post notice of the violation in a conspicuous location, such as the lobby.

The bill also bars the owner or operator of any hotel or multiple dwelling from entering a new lease for non-owner occupancy, or making available for a new lease while they are in the process of becoming compliant with the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law and resolving any potentially hazardous conditions.

“This legislation reinforces the principle that every individual has the right to reside or stay in spaces that meet the highest safety standards and that that safety is non-negotiable,” said Assemblyman Wimberly (Bergen, Passaic). “Notifying municipalities and residents about the potential hazards in their dwelling helps minimize risks for everyone.”

Bill A-5756, also sponsored by Assembly Democrats Carter, Sumter, and Wimberly would establish a habitability database for use by a Superior Court judge for landlord-tenant actions, outlining the violations and listing any prior notices or citations, the landlord has received. Additionally, the bill would establish penalties for landlords who fail to include in a lease that tenants are entitled to recover attorney’s fees or expenses to the same extent as the landlord under certain circumstances. Public housing tenants would also be eligible to bring actions forward for habitability defects.