[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Wallington 8-29-1973 (Ch. 255 of the 1992 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Borough Council hereby declares that an emergency exists within the Borough of Wallington with respect to the rental of housing space in multiple-family dwellings not subject to rent regulation by reason of the demands for increases in rent which are excessive, unwarranted and not necessarily related to the reasonable value of the rental facilities offered or to the inflationary trends generally. Such increases tend to exceed cost-of-living and increased services justifications and are causing severe hardships upon tenants and are adversely affecting the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the Borough of Wallington, warranting legislative action by the governing body.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AVAILABLE FOR RENT TO TENANTS
- Suitable for habitation as defined by any appropriate Borough ordinances or state law.
- Includes any building or structure rented or offered for rent to four or more tenants or family units. Exempt from this chapter are premises primarily serving transient guests, buildings in which up to 1/3 of the occupied floor space is commercial and dwellings containing five or fewer units in which the owner of the premises resides.
- HOUSING SPACE
- Includes that portion of a dwelling rented or offered for rent for living and dwelling purposes to one individual or family unit, together with all privileges, services, furnishings, furniture, equipment, facilities and improvements connected with the use or occupancy of such portion of the property.
- PRICE INDEX
- The Consumer Price Index (all items) for the region of the United States of which this portion of New Jersey is a part, published periodically by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor.
Adjustments in rent.
[Amended 11-16-1982 by Ord. No. 82-13]
As to dwellings with fewer than 50 units, establishment of rents between a landlord and a tenant to whom this chapter is applicable shall hereafter be determined by the provisions of this chapter. At the expiration of a lease or at the termination of the lease of a periodic tenant, no landlord shall request or receive a percentage increase in rent which is greater than the percentage difference between the Consumer Price Index 90 days prior to the expiration or termination of the lease and the Consumer Price Index at the date the lease was entered into.
As to dwellings with more than 50 units, establishment of rents between a landlord and a tenant to whom this chapter is applicable shall hereafter be determined by the provisions of this chapter. At the expiration of a lease or at the termination of the lease of a periodic tenant, no landlord shall request or receive a percentage increase in rent which is greater than the percentage difference between the Consumer Price Index 90 days prior to the expiration or termination of the lease and the Consumer Price Index at the date the lease was entered into, up to a maximum of 6%.
Any rental increase at a time other than at the expiration of a lease or termination of a periodic lease shall be void. Any rental increase in excess of that authorized by the provisions of this section shall be void.
Any landlord seeking an increase in rent shall notify the tenant of the calculations involved in computing the increase, including the Consumer Price Index at the date of entry of the lease, the Consumer Price Index 90 days before the expiration of the lease, the allowable percentage increase and the allowable rental increase.
All leases entered into after the effective date of this chapter shall specify the Consumer Price Index on the date said lease becomes effective.
At the expiration or termination of a lease, a landlord may seek a tax surcharge from a tenant because of an increase in municipal property taxes. The tax surcharge shall not exceed that amount authorized by the following provisions. The landlord shall divide the increase in the present property tax over the property tax of the initial year of the lease by the number of all rented rooms in the dwelling to obtain the tax increase per room. The tenant shall not be liable for a tax surcharge exceeding the tax increase per rented room multiplied by the number of rooms occupied by the tenant.
Any landlord seeking a tax surcharge shall notify the tenant of the calculations involved in computing the tax surcharge, including the present property tax for the dwelling, the property tax for the dwelling for the previous year, the number of rooms occupied by the tenant and the maximum allowable surcharge.
The tax surcharge each tenant is liable for shall be paid in 12 monthly payments.
The tax surcharge shall not be considered rent for the purposes of computing cost-of-living rental increases.
In the event of a tax appeal, the portion of a tenant's tax surcharge not being paid by the landlord to the government will be held in an interest-bearing account.
In the event that the appeal is successful and the taxes reduced, the tenant shall receive 50% of said reduction as applied ratably to its tax portion, after deducting from the total tax reduction all expenses incurred by the landlord in prosecuting said appeal.
A landlord may seek additional rental for capital improvements made by him in the rental unit or attributable to the rental unit.
For purposes of this section, a capital improvement shall be an improvement which is depreciable pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code of the United States and rules and regulations promulgated thereunder and allowed as a depreciable expense by the Internal Revenue Service. The amount of the monthly increase which a landlord may charge shall be determined as follows. The total amount of the cost of the capital improvement as allowed by the Internal Revenue Service shall be divided by the depreciation period allowed by the Internal Revenue Service. That annual amount so obtained shall be prorated among all tenants in accordance with the formula provided in § 283-4, and all such rent increases shall be charged for no period greater than the original depreciation period of said improvement, without regard to subsequent adjustments in the basis of the dwelling.
The permissible rental increase for any tenant whose term is less than one year by written lease, oral lease or otherwise shall be that sum equal to the increase in the Consumer Price Index for the period of one year prior to the date of the termination of said term divided by 12 and multiplied by the number of months in said term.
The landlord shall notify the tenant of the proposed rental increase at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the lease if such an expiration date is fixed therein. If the expiration date is fixed therein, then the aforesaid notification shall be given according to the law governing the giving of notices to quit and demand for possession for the specific rental period. The contents of the notification shall conform to the requirements herein set forth for leases of one year or greater.
Tenancies at will and at sufferance shall be treated as if they were month-to-month tenancies for the purposes of this chapter.
The tax surcharge for tenancies of less than one year shall be computed in the same manner as previously provided herein, but no tenant shall be liable in any month for more than 1/12 of the tax surcharge so computed.
There is hereby created a Rent Leveling Board. This Board shall consist of two resident homeowners or landlords, if possible, two tenants and one member of the governing body and two alternate members, which alternates shall act only in the absence of a quorum or in the event of the disqualification of any of the permanent members. All members shall be appointed by the Mayor, at his sole discretion, and each will serve for a term of one year from the date of appointment.
[Amended 9-10-1987 by Ord. No. 87-10]
The Rent Leveling Board is hereby granted and shall have and exercise, in addition to other powers granted herein, all the powers necessary and appropriate to carry out and execute the purposes of this chapter, including but not limited to the power to:
Supply information and assistance to landlords and tenants to help them comply with the provisions of this chapter, including all necessary statistical information of the Consumer Price Index and computation of proper rental increases and tax and service surcharges.
Hold hearings and adjudicate applications from landlords for additional rental as determined by § 283-8 of this chapter.
In the event that a landlord cannot meet his mortgage payments and maintenance, he may appeal to the Rent Leveling Board for increased rental. The Board may grant the landlord a hardship rent increase to meet these payments only if it shall first determine from a complete disclosure of all relevant facts that all the landlord's claimed expenses are reasonable and usual.
[Added 9-9-1976 by Ord. No. 76-9]
In the event that a landlord feels that a subject property is not yielding a just and reasonable rate of return, application may be made to the Rent Leveling Board for increased rental. The Board may grant the landlord a just and reasonable rate of return increase only if it shall first determine that the same is just and reasonable from such factors as, but not limited to, the value of the property, the gross income, the costs of operation and maintenance of the building, the manner and method of financing of the building and such other facts and information as the Board may deem necessary.
During the term of this chapter, the landlord shall maintain the same standards of service, maintenance, furniture, furnishings or equipment in the housing space and dwelling as he provided or was required to do by law or lease at the date the lease was entered into.
An individual tenant or class of tenants who are not receiving substantially the same standards of service, maintenance, furniture or furnishings or equipment as specified in Subsection A hereof may have the Rent Leveling Board determine the reasonable rental value of the housing unit or dwelling in view of this deficiency. Such deficiency may be found and disclosed only after a duly noticed hearing. The tenant or class of tenants shall pay the reasonable rental value as full payment for rent until the landlord proves that the deficiency has been corrected.
No landlord shall, after the effective date of this chapter, charge any rents in excess of what he was receiving from the effective date of this chapter except for increases as authorized by this chapter.
The owner of housing space or dwellings being rented for the first time shall not be restricted in the initial rent he charges. Any subsequent rental increases, however, shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter.
[Amended 9-9-1976 by Ord. No. 76-9; 12-20-1993 by Ord. No. 93-19]
A willful violation of any provision of this chapter, including but not limited to the willful filing with the Rent Leveling Board of any material misstatement of fact, shall be punishable as provided in Chapter 1, Article II, General Penalty, of the Code of the Borough of Wallington. A violation affecting more than one leasehold shall be considered a separate violation as to each leasehold.
This chapter, being necessary for the welfare of the Borough and its inhabitants, is remedial and shall be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes thereof.
[Amended 9-9-1976 by Ord. No. 76-9]
This chapter is to take effect immediately upon passage and publication as required by law. This chapter shall continue but shall be reviewed annually by the Rent Leveling Board. Reports shall be made to the governing body prior to the anniversary date of the chapter each year.