TRENTON – The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee approved a bill sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would allow courts to impose stiffer fines on corporations found guilty of violating municipal housing ordinances.
“Many of the penalties that can currently be imposed for violating municipal housing ordinances don’t sufficiently deter corporations from breaking the law,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “Jail time and a $1,250 fine work on individuals who own and manage rental properties, but how effective are they against a multimillion dollar corporation who can’t be jailed and would think nothing of such a fine. By allowing judges to impose a higher fine, we are providing a deterrent that will be more effective in making corporations comply with the law.”
Senator Turner’s bill, S-2182, would empower any court that convicts a corporation of violating a municipal housing ordinance to impose a fine up to $4000. Under current law, the maximum penalty for the violation of a municipal housing ordinance is 90 days in jail, a $1,250 fine and 90 days of community service. Only the fine can be applied to corporations found guilty.
Senator Turner noted that the impetus for the bill was a number of complaints by tenants in her district about housing code violations left unfixed by their incorporated landlords. Since the current penalties were not affective against these corporate landlords, Senator Turner felt more needed to be done.
“Every rentpayer in New Jersey has the right to live in an apartment which complies with all municipal housing ordinances,” said Senator Turner. “For those corporations who don’t care about the safety and well-being of their tenants, we need penalties that will make them start caring. We’ll see how quickly they start addressing violations when they know that a failure to act can mean the end of their corporation.”
The bill passed the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee by a vote of 3-0. It now goes onto the full Senate for their approval.