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Senate Panel Advances Turner Bill To Crack Down On Bad Landlords

TRENTON – The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today approved a bill, S-874, sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer, to punish landlords who commit flagrant violations of local housing and zoning codes by penalties of up to six months in jail and fines of up to $4,000.

“There are some bad landlords who take advantage of their tenants by forcing them to live in sub-human conditions,” said Senator Turner. “This bill will help crack down on landlords who ignore the deplorable ways their tenants are being treated.

The measure, which now awaits action before the full Senate, would make it a disorderly persons offense punishable by a jail term of up to six months and fines of up to $4,000 for landlords who ignore at least three notices of maintaining unsuitable housing units.

“Too many landlords are buying up properties, failing to make them suitable for living, but then getting renters anyway because people are in such desperate need of housing,” Senator Turner said. “The people in the neighborhoods are calling in to authorities with complaints and that’s been very helpful. This bill would empower municipalities to impose these harsher penalties against landlords to put a deterrent effect in place.”

The current maximum penalties for infractions of local housing and zoning codes are fines of up to $1,250 and incarceration for up to 90 days.

“It’s true that there have been serious problems with landlords in Trenton, but the measure would crack down on landlords regardless of where they own properties,” Senator Turner said.

“I commend the residents of communities who call in to complain about the conditions of houses that are not safe or which contain flagrant violations of local housing codes,” Senator Turner said. “People in neighborhoods deserve homes that are safe and suitable for their families.”

Senator Turner said the measure also would serve as a protective bill for those of limited means who are victimized by the willingness of their landlords to force them into deplorable living conditions.

The measure was approved by the committee unanimously.