Rice Bills To Protect Tenants Become Law

TRENTON – Two measures, sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice, to ensure that tenants’ needs and rights are upheld became law today.

The first enacted bill, S-1082, requires managers of State financed housing to arrange meetings at least four times a year with tenants to discuss complaints. The law requires tenants to receive written notification of the meetings once every three months, and tenants would be able to cancel meetings if they have no complaints.

The bill would apply to housing funded through the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), the Neighborhood Preservation program and the Balanced Housing program, all State financed agencies. The bill does not apply to municipal housing authorities, Senator Rice said.

” With the number of New Jersey tenants on the rise, we need to make sure that any residents’ housing concerns do not ‘fall on deaf ears’ and end up growing into major issues,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex, and Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “The bill provides a forum where disputes may be resolved before turning into serious conflicts. These meetings can also be an opportunity for managers to pass on important information to their residents.”

The second enacted bill, S-1115, authorizes the Commissioner of Community Affairs, the Public Advocate, the Attorney General or other State entities which made deposits on behalf of tenants to impose a penalty of up to $2,000 on owners and landlords who withhold the security deposits of tenants who have State subsidized rent or income.

“The rental assistance program requires that participating tenants return the money that the State loaned them for their housing deposits in order to stay in the program,” said Senator Rice. “Unfortunately, there are a growing number of complaints from tenants who are forced to take legal action to recover their security deposits that are wrongfully withheld.”