New law would ensure residents and guests are aware of hazardous conditions and would penalize landlords for habitability violations
(TRENTON) — Governor Murphy on Tuesday signed legislation 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, Benjie E. Wimberly and Annette Quijano, requires the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to notify municipal elected officials, certain municipal employees, and tenants of 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 this new law help us maintain safe living conditions throughout the state, preventing harm and ensuring the well-being of our communities.”
Now that the bill has been signed into law, Assemblywoman Carter hopes the action will 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.”
If violations are not addressed in a timely manner, the law 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 (D-Bergen, Passaic). “Notifying municipalities and residents about the potential hazards in their dwelling helps minimize risks for everyone.”
“Tenants should live in a safe environment, and this new law will help ensure that they are protected from risks,” said Assemblywoman Quijano (D-Union). “Building owners will need to inform their tenants of any violations, and address them quickly. This will keep our communities safer.”