Lawmakers Want to Close the Door on Negligent Landlords

NJTV News | July 12, 2017 | Housing
Senators go after landlords who fail safety and sanitary standards while renting to tenants who get public assistance

Two senators from opposing parties have teamed up on legislation that targets substandard practices by landlords. Sens. Ron Rice (D-Essex) and Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) are promoting their Safe Sanitary Subsidized Rental Housing Bill of Rights, which is specifically aimed at landlords who fail to meet safety and sanitary standards while their tenants pay most of their rent through public assistance.

The legislation also targets landlords who hide behind post office box addresses, as is common in Asbury Park, according to Beck. “In this town alone 300 different LLC’s were all registered to the same P.O. box and therefore for our enforcement people in the city as they are trying to enforce the codes, they can’t track down a human being,” Beck said.

“The state government and federal government continue to pay these landlords even though they know that there are serious violations there and some of these residents need to be removed because of the health conditions,” Rice said. The senators said better cooperation among local housing agencies, the state, and federal government are vital to ensure that public dollars do not underwrite inhuman conditions.

When the two lawmakers visited one Asbury Park boarding house yesterday along with NJTV’s Michael Hill, a resident said he feared eviction if he talked about conditions there. Beck identified the building as one that is known to code inspectors as a repeat offender. But the owner vehemently denied that, saying conditions often deteriorate because residents don’t practice good hygiene and other good habits.

Housing advocates say the bill to rein in landlords is long overdue.

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