Wisniewski, DeAngelo, Coughlin & Benson Bill to Ease Home Improvement Costs for Seniors Advances in Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen John S. Wisniewski, Wayne P. DeAngelo, Craig J. Coughlin and Daniel R. Benson sponsored to allow New Jersey towns to exempt senior homeowners from municipal building permit fees was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-1681) would authorize municipalities to enact ordinances that would allow an individual age 65 or over to apply for a waiver from payment of a construction permit surcharge fee or other such fees associated with the construction or alteration of his or her primary home.
“As senior citizens age, it becomes increasingly important to their sense of community and overall wellness that they can stay in their homes,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “This legislation will help municipalities make sure their residents can take the steps necessary to comfortably and safely remain in their residences. Particularly for those on a limited income, an exemption from building permit fees can go a long way.”
Any senior citizen who meets the requirements necessary to receive a homestead property tax reimbursement would be eligible for a fee waiver under the bill. Provisions of the bill would not apply to new construction or construction done solely to increase the square footage of the home.
“When seniors are able to stay in their homes, they tend to have a more positive overall life outlook,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This bill acknowledges that transforming a home into a space that can accommodate older residents is necessary for the health and safety of New Jersey’s seniors and will help make that very important process a bit less costly.”
“Our older residents have contributed so much to New Jersey, and they deserve to be able to continue residing peaceably and safely in the homes that are familiar to them,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “This legislation will help remove one hurdle for seniors who want to maintain comfort and independence in their homes as they age.”
“For longtime homeowners, it’s inevitable that the home will need routine repairs. For seniors, being able to complete those everyday projects as well as improvements that facilitate remaining at home is essential,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation will give seniors peace of mind and the ability to live independently in an affordable manner.”
Under current law, a municipality may choose to grant a building permit fee exemption to individuals with physical disabilities. The bill extends this exemption to seniors seeking repair or routine maintenance of their homes. The sponsors note that the cost of the exemption will be offset by fees paid by other, non-exempt permit applicants.
The bill was released by the Assembly Health and Senior Citizens Committee, of which Benson is vice-chair.