TRENTON – In an effort to improve transparency and strengthen protections for renters, the New Jersey Senate approved legislation, sponsored by Senator Brian Stack and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, which would require foreign and domestic entities who want to operate rental properties in the state to disclose identifying information about ownership if operating as an LLC.
“LLCs have become increasingly common in the rental market, making it more difficult to hold bad actors accountable and protect tenants,” said Senator Stack (D-Hudson), the Vice-Chair of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “The disclosure of identifying information would alleviate some of the transparency issues associated with LLCs, and make it easier for tenants to assert their rights if they are violated.”
Specifically, the bill, S-889, would require the disclosure of information pertaining to at least one member of the company to ensure that landlords are transparent and that renters can identify who they are renting from. Without this information, it can be difficult or impossible for many tenants to directly contact their landlord with even serious concerns or emergencies.
A 2017 expose, “Renter Hell”, from the Asbury Park Press showed that even enforcement officials can struggle to identify individuals who operate LLCs, and further suggested that many LLCs use their relative anonymity to evade housing, health, and building codes.
“Not being able to identify who is responsible for remediation, action, or maintenance creates difficulties for renters and municipalities,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Often, absentee landlords are slow to address issues that impact the quality of life for residents. Without having a direct contact, honest people paying rent have few ways to hold owners accountable for their inaction, putting families at risk.”
The bill was passed in the Senate by a vote of 33-1.