TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would remove an exemption in local rent control to protect senior tenants was approved by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today by a vote of 3-2.
“Rent control is a valuable tool to keep New Jersey affordable for those who rent their homes,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “However, under existing State law, many newly constructed apartments fall into an exemption from local rent control rules, and can raise rental rates with little concern for the tenants. This is particularly difficult on seniors on fixed incomes, who struggle every day to balance their expenses and meet New Jersey’s high-cost of living.”
The bill, S-630, would clarify the Legislature’s intent in regards to a statute which provides an exemption from local rent control for newly constructed multiple dwellings. Under the bill, multiple dwellings which cater to tenants aged 55 and older would not be able to claim the exemption for newly-constructed multiple unit dwellings from local rent control rules. Senator Vitale noted that New Jersey does not have Statewide rent control, but regulates how municipalities can impose their own rent control through local ordinance.
Senator Vitale added that this bill is in response to concerns from seniors living in the age-restricted community of Woodbridge Hills in his district. Under the current exemption, 480 senior households have experienced a rent increase of 17.9%, creating a financial hardship for many tenants on fixed incomes.
“For the senior residents of Woodbridge Hills, and others around the State, even a minor increase in rent could mean the difference between meeting living expenses and not,” said Senator Vitale. “No senior should be forced to decide between paying rent or filling prescriptions, but for many living without the protection of rent control, they’re one major rent increase away from such a choice. We need to give municipal officials the ability to hold down rental rates for seniors, whether they live in older properties or newly constructed ones.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.