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Senator Rice Vows to Make Child-Protection Window Guards His Top Priority

TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice today introduced a measure to help protect New Jersey’s children by expanding the provisions of the 1995 child-protection window guard law to require landlords to inspect window guards at least twice a year, and to direct the Department of Community Affairs to establish window safety training for tenants.

“Just three months ago, five-year old Zahir Atkins fell 15 stories to his death from a Newark apartment that had window guards,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex, who Chairs the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, and also sits on the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens panel. “Something is terribly wrong if children are still falling from windows equipped with guards.”

Senator Rice’s bill, S-2823, would require rental property owners to inspect window guards at least twice yearly and to maintain an inspection log to be turned over to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) upon request. The DCA would be responsible for establishing window-guard orientation programs to teach tenants of the importance and proper use of window guards. Building owners found in violation of the bill would be subject to fines of $100 per unguarded window, and penalties would increase for repeat offenders.

“The late Senator Winona Lipman, D-Essex, and I sponsored the original child-protection window guard law nearly a decade ago, and I am determined to see that our vision is carried out. Just because window guards are present does not mean that they are being used properly. Landlords need to make sure that window guards are being used effectively, that tenants know how important the guards are and how to use them correctly. The issue of upgrading the current law regarding window guards will be my priority during the ‘lame duck’ legislative session, and I will be holding hearings in Newark over the next few months to address the issue,” Senator Rice said.