Borough of North Plainfield, NJ
Somerset County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Editor's Note: For establishment of the Rent Stabilization Board, see Chapter 2, Article I, the Administrative Code, subsection 2-6.7.
[Ord. #741, S 1; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 1; Ord. #90-02, SS 1,2]
As used in this Chapter:
DWELLING
Shall mean and include any building or structure, group or complex of buildings or structures of which the whole or part thereof is offered for rent to one or more tenants as housing space.
GROSS MAXIMIZED ANNUAL INCOME
Shall mean all income resulting directly or indirectly from the operating of a property or building including, but not limited to, all rent received or collectable including any rent from a less than arm's length transaction, the landlord's share of interest on security deposits, all earnings from commission, vending machines, deductions from security deposits, late fees, pet fees, parking fees, pool fees, key charges, finder's fees, amounts received from successful tax appeals, income from rebates, tax surcharges, sewer charge surcharges, capital improvement surcharges, rent surcharges, and hardship surcharges, computed in accordance with the provisions and limitations of this Chapter.
HOUSING SPACE
Shall mean and include that portion of a dwelling rented or offered for rent for living and dwelling purposes to one individual, group of individuals, 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.
INVESTMENT OR LANDLORD'S INVESTMENT
Shall mean the sum of the initial capital investment in the dwelling plus the amount of principal reduction on any purchase money mortgage on the dwelling plus any additional capital added to the dwelling.
JUST CAUSE
Shall mean action on the part of the landlord in refusing to let, rent, relet or rerent to a tenant or basis for dispossess for any one or more of the following:
a. 
The person fails to pay rent due and owing under the lease whether the same be oral or written;
b. 
The person has continued to be, after written notice to cease, so disorderly as to destroy the peace and quiet of the occupants or other tenants living in said house or neighborhood;
c. 
The person has willfully or by reason of gross negligence caused or allowed destruction, damage or injury to the premises;
d. 
The person has continued, after written notice to cease, to substantially violate or breach any of the landlord's rules and regulations governing said premises, provided such rules and regulations are reasonable and have been accepted in writing by the tenant or made a part of the lease at the beginning of the lease term;
e. 
The person has continued, after written notice to cease, to substantially violate or breach any of the covenants or agreements contained in the lease for the premises where a right of re-entry is reserved to the landlord in the lease for a violation of such covenant or agreement, provided that such covenant or agreement is reasonable and was contained in the lease at the beginning of the lease term;
f. 
The person has failed to pay rent after a valid notice to quit and notice of increase of said rent, provided the increase in rent is not unconscionable and complies with any and all other laws or municipal ordinances governing rent increases;
g. 
The landlord or owner: (1) seeks to permanently board up or demolish the premises because he has been cited by local or State housing inspectors for substantial violations affecting the health and safety of tenants and it is economically unfeasible for the owner to eliminate the violations; (2) seeks to comply with local or State housing inspectors who have cited him for substantial violations affecting the health and safety of tenants and it is unfeasible to so comply without removing the tenant; simultaneously with service of notice of eviction pursuant to this clause, the landlord shall notify the Department of Community Affairs of the intention to institute proceedings and shall provide the Department with such other information as it may require pursuant to rules and regulations. The Department shall be invited to inform all parties, the court and/or the Rent Stabilization Board of its view with respect to the feasibility of compliance without removal of the tenant and may in its discretion appear and present evidence; (3) seeks to correct an illegal occupancy because he has been cited by local or State housing inspectors and it is unfeasible to correct such illegal occupancy without removing the tenant; or (4) is a governmental agency which seeks to permanently retire the premises from the rental market pursuant to a redevelopment or land clearance plan in a blighted area;
h. 
The owner seeks to retire permanently the residential building or the mobile home park from residential use or use as a mobile park, provided this paragraph shall not apply to circumstances covered under paragraph g of this definition;
i. 
The landlord or owner proposes, at the termination of a lease, reasonable changes of substance in the terms and conditions of the lease, including specifically any change in the term thereof, which the tenant, after written notice, refuses to accept; provided that in cases where a tenant has received a notice of termination pursuant to section 3 g. of P.L. 1974, c. 49 (C. 2A:18-61.2), or has a protected tenancy status pursuant to section 9 of the "Senior Citizens and Disabled Protected Tenancy Act," P.L. 1981, c. 226 (C. 2A:18-61.30) the landlord or owner shall have the burden of proving that any change in the terms and conditions of the lease, rental or regulations both is reasonable and does not substantially reduce the rights and privileges to which the tenant was entitled prior to the conversion;
j. 
The person, after written notice to cease, has habitually and without legal justification failed to pay rent which is due and owing;
k. 
The landlord or owner of the building or mobile home park is converting from the rental market to a condominium, cooperative or fee simple ownership of two or more dwelling units or park sites, except as hereinafter provided in paragraph l., and provided, further, this paragraph k shall not apply against a senior citizen tenant or disabled tenant with protected tenancy status pursuant to the "Senior Citizens and Disabled Protected Tenancy Act," P.L. 1981, c. 226 (C. 2A:18-61.22 et seq.) as long as the agency has not terminated the protected tenancy status or the protected tenancy period has not expired;
l. 
1. 
The owner of a building or mobile home park, which is constructed as or being converted to a condominium, cooperative or fee simple ownership, seeks to evict a tenant or sublessee whose initial tenancy began after the master deed, agreement establishing the cooperative or subdivision plat was recorded, because the owner has contracted to sell the unit to a buyer who seeks to personally occupy it and the contract for sale calls for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing;
2. 
The owner of condominium or cooperative units seeks to evict a tenant whose initial tenancy began by rental from an owner of units after the master deed or agreement establishing the cooperative was recorded, because the owner seeks to personally occupy the unit, or has contracted to sell the unit to a buyer who seeks to personally occupy it and the contract for sale calls for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing;
3. 
The owner of a building of residential units seeks to personally occupy a unit, or has contracted to sell the residential unit to a buyer who wishes to personally occupy it and the contract for sale calls for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing;
m. 
The landlord or owner conditioned the tenancy upon and in consideration for the tenant's employment by the landlord or owner as superintendent, janitor or in some other capacity and such employment is being terminated.
LANDLORD
Shall mean the owner of a dwelling or the purchaser under contract to purchase a dwelling.
MAJOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT
Shall mean a capital improvement enhancing the property and having an anticipated useful life of at least five years and a cost of at least $1,000.
REASONABLE AND NECESSARY OPERATING EXPENSES
Shall mean all valid expenses incurred and paid by a landlord for a residential rental property during the period reflected in income computed in accordance with the provisions and limitations of this Chapter.
RESIDENTIAL RENTAL PROPERTY
Shall mean all "Housing space" and "Dwellings" subject to the provisions of this Chapter.
TENANT
Shall mean any individual, group of individuals or family unit renting or proposing to rent housing space from a landlord.
[Ord. #741, S 2]
A landlord shall not refuse to rent, relet or rerent housing space or terminate a landlord-tenant relationship except for just cause.
[Ord. #741, S 3]
This Chapter shall apply to the rental of all housing space and dwellings within the Borough unless specifically exempted herein.
[Ord. #741, S 4; Ord. #741-H-87-9]
The owner of housing space 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. Exempt from the provisions of this Chapter are hotels, motels and similar-type transient rental uses. Whenever housing space in a dwelling of less than 11 units of housing space shall become vacant through the voluntary act of the tenant, or a dispossession with just cause, said housing space shall thereafter be exempt from the provisions of this Chapter.
Whenever housing space in a dwelling of more than 10 units of housing space shall become vacant through the voluntary act of the tenant, or a dispossession with just cause, this housing space shall be exempt from the rental increase limitations of this Chapter for the purpose of establishing the initial rent of the new tenant. Thereafter, the rental increase limitations set forth in this Chapter shall apply. The initial rent established for a new tenant shall not provide for subsequent increases in excess of that permitted by this Chapter.
[Ord. #741, S 5; Ord. #741C-84-20, S l]
No landlord may request or receive a rental increase for housing space more often than once in any 12 month period unless such increase is authorized by the Rent Stabilization Board; and
a. 
In the case of a written lease, the tenant agreed, in advance, to be responsible for any such increase; or
b. 
In the case of a verbal rental, the increase shall not take effect for at least one full rental period after notification to the tenant of the Rent Stabilization Board's decision.
[Ord. #741, S 6; Ord. #741C-84-20,S l]
Any rental increase at a time other than at the termination of a lease term or periodic tenancy shall be void unless such increase is authorized by the Rent Stabilization Board; and
a. 
In the case of a written lease, the tenant agreed, in advance, to be responsible for any such increase; or
b. 
In the case of a verbal rental, the increase shall not take effect for at least one full rental period after notification to the tenant of the Rent Stabilization Board's decision.
Any rental increase in excess of that authorized by the provisions of this Chapter shall be void.
[Ord. #741, S 7; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
Any landlord seeking an increase in rent shall notify the tenant in writing, by personal service or by certified mail, of the calculations involved in computing the increase. Annually the landlord shall notify the tenant in writing, by personal service or by certified mail of the calculations involved in computing the Tax, Sewer Charge, Trash Removal, Major Capital Improvement Surcharge and Hardship Increase Components regardless of whether an increase in rent is sought.
[Ord. #741, S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
Rent or total rent shall be divided into the following six components:
a. 
Base Rent Component;
b. 
Tax Component;
c. 
Sewer Charge Component;
d. 
Major Capital Improvement Surcharge Component;
e. 
Hardship Increase Component.
f. 
Trash Removal Component.
[Ord. #741, S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
The monthly Base Rent Component for housing space shall be the total monthly rent for such housing space minus the sum of the monthly Tax Component, the monthly Sewer Charge Component, the monthly Trash Removal Component, and if applicable, the monthly Major Capital Improvement Surcharge Component and the monthly Hardship Increase Component for that housing space.
[Ord. #741, S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-F-86-29, S l; Ord #741-G-87-1, S l; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
The monthly Tax Component for housing space shall be one-twelfth (1/12) the annual real property tax for the dwelling divided by the total number of rooms in the dwelling and multiplied by the total number of rooms in the particular housing space.
Should housing space in a dwelling be converted to a condominium, cooperative, or fee simple ownership, any increase in taxes attributable to the housing space which is solely the result of the conversion may not be passed on to the tenant. In the case of housing space in a dwelling so converted, the monthly tax component shall consist of the sum of:
a. 
A monthly base tax component which shall be an amount equivalent to the monthly tax component for the year prior to assessment of the dwelling as a conversion; and
b. 
An amount equivalent to the monthly base tax component multiplied by the percentage by which taxes in the municipality have increased since the year prior to assessment of the dwelling as a conversion.
[Ord. #741-S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
The monthly Sewer Charge Component for housing space shall be one-twelfth (1/12) the annual sewer usage charge for the dwelling, divided by the total number of rooms in the dwelling and multiplied by the number of rooms in the particular housing space.
[Ord. #741 S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
The monthly Major Capital Improvement Surcharge Component shall be one-twelfth (1/12) the annual major capital improvement surcharge attributable to the housing space.
[Ord. #741, S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
The monthly Hardship Increase Component shall be one-twelfth (1/12) the annual hardship increase component attributable to the housing space.
[Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 8]
The monthly Trash Removal Component for housing space shall be the most recent month's trash removal charges for the dwelling, divided by the total number of rooms in the dwelling and multiplied by the total number of rooms in the housing space.
[Ord. #741, S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2]
The annual Sewer Charge Component for 1985 shall be the total sewer usage charge for the dwelling for 1985 divided by the total number of rooms in the dwelling and multiplied by the number of rooms in the particular housing space. Upon receipt by a landlord of the final sewer usage charge bill from the Borough for 1985, the landlord shall promptly determine the amount owed by each tenant for 1985 and compare that to the amount paid to the landlord as the Sewer Charge Component. If by December 31, 1985, the tenant will not have paid the total amount owed, then the landlord may collect the difference as "additional rent" with the December 1985 rent payment. If by December 31, 1985, the tenant will have overpaid the amount owed as the annual Sewer Charge Component, the landlord shall reduce the amount owed by the tenant for December rent by an amount equivalent to the overpayment for the 1985 Sewer Charge Component.
[Ord. #741, S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
If a landlord receives a 20% sewer usage surcharge as a result of no water meter readings, the responsibility for payment of the surcharge will be determined as follows:
a. 
If access to the water meter is controlled by the landlord, the landlord shall be solely responsible for the surcharge and shall not pass same through to any tenant;
b. 
If access to the water meter is controlled by a tenant, the total amount of the surcharge may be passed through to the tenant with control of access to the water meter.
c. 
If access to the water meter is controlled by two or more tenants, the total amount of the surcharge may be passed through in equal portions to the tenants with control of access to the water meter.
d. 
If access to the water meter is controlled jointly by a landlord and one or more tenants, the total amount of the surcharge shall be divided equally among the landlord and tenants with control of access to the water meter, and a proportionate share of the surcharge may be passed through to each of such tenants.
[Ord. #741, S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
The most current tax, sewer usage and trash removal charge figures available shall be utilized at the inception of a rental term for the purpose of establishing the Tax Component, Sewer Charge Component and Trash Removal Component for that rental term.
Neither the Tax Component nor the Sewer Charge Component nor the Trash Removal Component shall be increased more frequently than once every 12 months for any tenancy.
[Ord. #741, S 8; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
Whenever housing space is part of a dwelling of residential and nonresidential uses, the following provisions shall apply for the purpose of calculating all components of total rent for a particular housing space excepting the Base Rent Component:
The portion of the tax, charge or cost for the dwelling shall be divided by the number of floors in the dwelling. The tax, charge or cost attributable to a residential floor shall then be divided by the number of rooms on the floor and multiplied by the number of rooms in the housing space.
When computing rent utilizing the Trash Removal Component for the first time, a landlord shall subtract one-twelfth (1/12) the total of the last 12 months trash removal charges for the dwelling, divided by the total number of rooms in the dwelling and multiplied by the total number of rooms in the housing space from the pre-existing monthly Base Rent Component in order to establish a new monthly Base Rent Component upon which to calculate a percentage increase in base rent under Section 12-9 of this Chapter.
[Ord. #741, S 9; Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-F-86-29, S 9; Ord. #741-G-87-1, S 2; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
Establishment of rents between a landlord and tenant to whom this Chapter is applicable shall hereafter be determined by the provisions of this Chapter. At the termination of a lease term or periodic tenancy, no landlord may request or receive an increase in rent greater than 4% of the Base Rent Component in the event the landlord does not supply heat for the housing space and 5% of the Base Rent Component in the event the landlord does supply heat for the housing space. The landlord may increase the Tax Component, Sewer Charge Component and the Trash Removal Component subject to the limitations of this Chapter. In the event of a reduction in real property taxes or sewer usage charges or trash removal charges, for whatever reasons, the landlord shall reduce the Tax Component and/or the Sewer Charge Component and/or the Trash Removal Component utilizing the formula provided in this Chapter. No increase in rent shall be effective for any period of time during which there is a valid outstanding notice (whose correction period has expired) by local or State authorities for violations of Property Maintenance, Health, or Fire regulations substantially affecting the use and enjoyment of the particular housing space or the facilities incident to the rental of the particular housing space.
No landlord shall impose any mandatory charge or fee not currently in effect unless same be included as a part of the Base Rent Component. Any separate charge or fee presently in effect for services or facilities such as garbage spaces, parking spaces, swimming pool membership or similar services and facilities, if mandatory, shall be subject to a 4% increase limitation.
[Ord. #741, S 10: Ord. #741-85-35, S 2; Ord. #741-F-86-29, S 9; Ord. # 741-G-87-1, S 2]
A landlord shall not transfer the responsibility of paying for the heating of housing space from the landlord to the tenant unless:
a. 
The fuel for heating the housing space shall be separately metered;
b. 
The heating unit(s) serving the housing space shall not serve any other housing space or nonresidential unit; and
c. 
The tenant shall have a method of controlling the amount of heat provided. The tenant shall be entitled to a base rent reduction which shall be computed as follows:
1. 
If the landlord and a majority of tenants agree in writing that a more expensive operational cost is mutually beneficial to both landlord and tenants, an amount not less than one year's actual incurred heating costs shall be divided by the total number of rooms in the dwelling to determine the amount of rent reduction per room. Heated common space will be included in the room count.
2. 
In any other case, the landlord's previous season's fuel heating cost shall be adjusted by a factor defined as the cost-per-BTU of the previous season's heating fuel divided by the cost-per-BTU of the new heating fuel. This factor shall be multiplied by at least one year's fuel heating cost and divided by the number of rooms in the dwelling. The result shall be the rent reduction per room. Heated common space will be included in the room count.
[Ord. #741, S 11]
A landlord shall not withhold the payment of that portion of municipal property taxes for which a Tax Component has been collected from any tenant. A landlord shall not withhold the payment of that portion of municipal sewer user charges for which a Sewer Charge Component has been collected from any tenant.
[Ord. #741, S 12]
A landlord filing a tax appeal for a dwelling shall notify all tenants of that dwelling, in writing, by personal service or certified mail, that a tax appeal has been filed. The notice shall be served within 15 days of filing the appeal.
In the event a tax appeal is taken by a landlord and a reduction in taxes is granted, the landlord obtaining a determination that a sum of money is due from the Borough, the landlord shall, after deducting all reasonable expenses in prosecuting the appeal, pay 50% of the balance due from the Borough to the tenants proportioned on a per room basis.
[Ord. #741, S 13]
Any increase in total rent, or imposition of other charges, in excess of those authorized by this Chapter shall be voidable.
[Ord. #741, S 14]
The Rent Stabilization Board created by the Administrative Code of the Borough is hereby granted, and shall have and exercise, in addition to other powers herein granted, all powers necessary and appropriate to carry out and execute the purposes of this Chapter including, but not limited to, the following:
a. 
To issue and promulgate such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement the purposes of this Chapter which rules and regulations shall have the force of law until revised, repealed or amended by the Board in the exercise of its discretion, provided that such rules are filed with the Borough Clerk and approved by Resolution of the Borough Council.
b. 
To supply written information to landlords and tenants to help them comply with the provisions of this Chapter.
c. 
To hold hearings and adjudicate applications from landlords for additional rental as authorized by the provisions of this Chapter.
d. 
To hold hearings and adjudicate applications from tenants for reduced rental in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter.
e. 
To hold hearings and adjudicate disputes between landlords and tenants arising under the provisions of this Chapter provided, however, there shall be no hearing or adjudication of a dispute unless application for such hearing and adjudication shall have been filed within one year of the date of the event giving rise to the dispute.
f. 
To permit a member of the Board who did not attend a meeting to participate in the final decision of an application considered at the meeting, provided the member certifies in writing to the Board that he has listened to the tape recording of that portion of the meeting at which the application was considered and has examined all exhibits admitted into evidence, and, provided further, the applicant and any objectors to the application consent to the member's participation in the final decision.
g. 
To retain the services of such experts as the Board shall determine to be appropriate subject to the Board's budgetary appropriation.
In the event the Board shall not reach a final decision on an application within 120 days of the filing of the application, the application shall be deemed to have been denied unless the applicant shall consent, in writing, to a specified extension of the time within which a decision may be rendered by the Board.
[Ord. #741, S 15]
The Rent Stabilization Board shall give reasonable opportunity to be heard to both landlord and tenant before making any determination, and shall, within three business days of making a determination, mail written copies of the determination to all interested parties.
[Ord. #741, S 16; Ord. #741E-85-35, S 2]
The Rent Stabilization Board shall not entertain any application for relief by a landlord until it has determined that the landlord has, at least 30 days prior to the filing of the application (or at the inception of the rental term to a tenant of less than 30 days), provided tenants with copies of the "Truth in Renting Statement," the "Fact Sheet" prepared by the Rent Stabilization Board, and this Chapter.
The Rent Stabilization Board shall not afford relief to a landlord if it finds the landlord is in noncompliance with material provisions of this Chapter and such noncompliance is the fault of the landlord. The Rent Stabilization Board shall not afford relief to a landlord for any period of time during which there is a valid outstanding notice (whose correction period has expired) by local or State authorities for violations of Property Maintenance, Health, or Fire Regulations substantially affecting the use and enjoyment of the particular housing space or the facilities incident to the rental of the particular housing space.
[Ord. #741, S 17; Ord. #741B- 83-18, S l]
Either a landlord or tenant may appeal the determination and finding of the Rent Stabilization Board to the Council by filing a written notice of appeal upon the Borough Clerk and by serving a copy of the notice upon the adverse party by certified mail. The notice shall be filed and served within 30 days of the date of written notification by the Board of its determination for the purposes of this Section, the date of written notification shall be the date upon which the Board mailed a copy of its determination to the party appealing. Within 10 days thereafter the appellant shall, in writing, order an original and one copy of the transcript of the proceedings before the Board from the Borough Clerk and shall, within the 10 day period, deposit with the Clerk the anticipated cost of transcription. One copy of the transcript shall, upon receipt, be delivered to the appellant and the original shall be filed with the Clerk for the use of the Council and the public. The appeal shall be decided by the Council on the basis of the record before the Rent Stabilization Board and legal argument before the Council.
[Ord. #741, S 18]
The Council may conduct an annual review of the percentage increase of Base Rent Component permitted and the necessity for rent stabilization and the effectiveness of this Chapter in balancing the needs of landlords, tenants, and the community. The annual review shall be discretionary and the failure of the Council to conduct such review or to prepare a report shall not affect the continued validity of this Section.
[Ord. #741, S 19; Ord. #741-I-87-32, S 2]
a. 
Whenever a landlord shall determine that the dwelling is not providing a return on the landlord's investment of at least the fair rate of return established by a Resolution of the Borough Council adopted no later than March of each year, the landlord may make application to the Rent Stabilization Board for a hardship increase of rent to be effective for a period not to exceed four years.
b. 
In any such application the landlord shall allege that:
1. 
He is an efficient operator of the property;
2. 
The property is in a safe and sanitary condition and that no outstanding violations of State or Municipal Health, Building or Fire codes exist that have exceeded the time allowed for correction;
3. 
The landlord is in compliance with State and local laws pertaining to tenants' rights;
4. 
All rentals collected and charges paid are the result of arm's length transactions;
5. 
All sales and/or financing of the dwelling in question shall be as a result of arm's length transactions.
c. 
In computing the gross maximum authorized rent for each rental unit, the following limitations shall apply in all cases:
1. 
No allowance shall be permitted for a vacancy of a habitable unit;
2. 
Income and expenses arising out of nonresidential use including that for professional or commercial space shall arise from arm's length transactions;
3. 
No loss caused by a nonresidential use may be considered;
4. 
The existing rent on non-rent-controlled units shall be assumed to be representative of the market value;
5. 
The highest rent chargeable for a rent-controlled unit shall not exceed the highest rent charged for a non-rent-controlled unit of the same type in the same complex at the time of the filing of the hardship application.
d. 
In computing reasonable and necessary expenses under this Chapter, the information provided should agree with that shown on the owner's federal income tax return with the following exceptions:
1. 
All depreciation or other capital recovery charges will be computed on a straight-line basis;
2. 
Management fees are limited to salaries, postage, telephone, supplies, repair parts and the market value of the manager's apartment (if any). In no case shall the management fees exceed 3% of the gross rental income of the property;
3. 
All other expenses shall derive from arm's length transactions. The Rent Stabilization Board may disallow expenses if the Board finds such expenses were improperly incurred;
4. 
No penalties or fines imposed as a result of a failure to comply with local or State Health, Building, Fire or Safety codes shall be allowed as expenses;
5. 
Any capital expenditure which the Rent Stabilization Board has deemed not to be a capital improvement as defined in Section 12-20 shall be prorated as an expense over the useful life of the improvement as defined by the federal income tax depreciation schedule provided by the applicant;
6. 
Any interest expense incurred by the landlord shall be construed as a valid expense as long as the principal was used to support or improve the dwelling in question.
e. 
The landlord shall make application to the Rent Stabilization Board together with all necessary certifications including an application by the owner and/or his agent to demonstrate that the dwelling in question is not earning a fair return on investment. The application shall include current rent, the requested amount of increase in base rent, and the percentage of increase requested for each housing space. Housing space not under rent control will be identified and the current rent indicated. Data on gross maximized annual income and expenses experienced by the applicant for the most recent fiscal year must be provided. At the time of application the landlord shall notify all tenants of the dwelling that an application is being made and is available to any tenants requesting same. The owner shall make available to all tenants and the Rent Stabilization Board all records and books supporting the application. Any tenant, group of tenants or tenants' association affected by the application who wishes to be heard at the public hearing must notify the Rent Stabilization Board of his, their or its intention and the Board will permit the tenant, group of tenants or tenants' association to be parties to the hearing.
f. 
Within 45 days of receipt of the completed application, or 30 days in the event of federal or State involved housing, the Rent Stabilization Board will hold a public hearing and make a recording of that hearing. If due to no fault of the owner the Rent Stabilization Board does not reach a decision on the application within 75 days of the date of application, the owner shall be entitled, upon notice to the tenants affected, to collect the amount requested in the application provided the amount does not exceed 20% of the current Base Rent Component. If the requested increase exceeds 20% of the current Base Rent Component, the landlord shall be limited to only 20% until the determination is reached by the Rent Stabilization Board. The Board may proceed to stay the increase by resolution if the delay has been contributed to by the landlord. Any increase paid by the tenant shall be without prejudice to either the landlord or the tenant and shall not be construed as the annual increase allowed under this Chapter. If the Board determines that the increase that the landlord has collected is other than that determined as correct by the Board, the total amount of the difference shall be due and payable at the next date rent is due after written notice from the Board of its decision. The tenant may deduct any overcharge from the rent due, and if the landlord is owed money it shall be paid by the tenant as additional rent.
g. 
If after a full hearing the Rent Stabilization Board shall determine that the landlord is in full compliance with the provisions of this Chapter, it shall permit a rental increase sufficient to re-establish the allowed rate of return on investment. The Board will use a method which allocates the increase to an individual unit such that the unit with the lowest rental has the highest increase but pays no more rent than the next lowest unit of the same type. Housing space units with fewer rooms will pay less than units with more rooms. In no case will the maximum rent charged any rent-controlled housing space unit exceed the maximum rent requested for a non-controlled unit of the same type in the same building.
h. 
Any increase granted under the provisions of this Section 12-19 shall be valid for a period as designated by the Rent Stabilization Board but not to exceed four years. If the landlord seeks to establish a hardship increase period beyond that granted by the Board, the landlord shall be required to file a new hardship application with the Rent Stabilization Board. In order to maintain the hardship for the full four year period, the landlord is required to provide an interim report to the Rent Stabilization Board within 30 days of the two year anniversary of the award of the hardship increase which identifies each housing space unit, the name of the tenant of the unit and the rent currently being charged. Failure to provide such report shall nullify the remaining two years of the hardship increase.
i. 
The Borough Council shall establish the fair rate of return on investment allowed under this Chapter by determining the average interest rate on passbook accounts paid by the banks and savings and loan establishments located in North Plainfield and adding 3% to that rate.
j. 
A tenant who believes that an increase is excessive will be granted a reduction in the hardship increase if the tenant can demonstrate both that:
1. 
The new maximum rent is greater than 20% of the tenant's gross income as shown in the tenant's latest federal income tax return; and
2. 
The tenant does not qualify for a housing subsidy from any local, State or federal agency.
[Ord. #741, S 20]
A landlord may seek a surcharge for major capital improvements or additional services. The landlord must notify each tenant in writing and by certified mail of:
a. 
The total cost of the completed major capital improvement, the number of years of useful life of the improvement as claimed for depreciation on federal income tax returns, the total number of rooms in the dwelling, the number of rooms occupied by the tenant, the average cost per room, and the surcharge being sought from the tenant.
b. 
The nature of the additional service, total cost of additional service, the total number of rooms occupied by the tenant, the average cost per room, and the surcharge being sought from the tenant.
Any landlord seeking a major capital improvement or additional services surcharge shall apply to the Rent Stabilization Board which shall determine: If a major capital improvement has been completed and, if so, the reasonableness of the proposed surcharge, which shall be prorated over the useful life of the major capital improvement; or, if an additional service has been provided and, if so, the reasonableness of the proposed surcharge. Should the Board determine the proposed surcharge to be reasonable, it shall allow same, but in no event shall any such surcharge exceed 15% of the tenant's rent. If the surcharge is granted, it shall not be considered rental for the purpose of calculating rental increases pursuant to this Chapter.
[Ord. #741, S 21; Ord. #741-H-87-9]
The following fees shall be paid to the Rent Stabilization Board by the applicant:
a. 
Capital Improvement Surcharge application $50.
b. 
Hardship Rental Increase application $50 or $10 per unit of housing space in the dwelling, whichever is greater, but in no event shall the application fee exceed $2,500.
c. 
All other hearing applications $10.
[Ord. #741, S 22]
During the term of this Chapter a 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, lease, or agreement at the date the lease was entered into or periodic tenancy commenced.
[Ord. #741, S 23]
An individual tenant or a class of tenants who are not receiving substantially the same standards of service, maintenance, furniture, or furnishings or equipment may apply to the Rent Stabilization Board for a determination of the reasonable rental value of the housing unit or dwelling in view of this deficiency. 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.
[Ord. #741, S 24]
No landlord shall charge any rents in excess of those which he was charging from the effective date of this Chapter except for increases authorized by this Chapter; provided, however, any rental increase authorized by Ordinance No. 646 as amended shall be valid if notice thereof in accordance with the requirements of Ordinance No. 646 as amended shall have been served prior to the effective date of this Chapter.
[Ord. #741C-84-20]
No later than January 1, 1985, or 30 days following opening in the event of any new rental property, the owner of housing space in a dwelling of more than five units shall certify in writing to the Borough Clerk the number of rooms in each building forming a part of the dwelling. In the event of any change in the number of rooms in the dwelling, the landlord, within 30 days following any such change, shall file an accurate amendatory certification with the Borough Clerk.
[Ord. #741, S 26]
A willful violation of any provision of this Chapter including, but not limited to, the willful filing with the Rent Stabilization Board of any material misstatement of fact, shall be subject to a penalty as established in Chapter 1, Section 1-5. A violation affecting more than one housing space shall be considered a separate violation as to each housing space.
[Ord. #741, S 27]
This Chapter being necessary for the welfare of the Borough and its inhabitants, it shall be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes thereof.
[Ord. #621, Sl]
No person, nor any agent, officer or employee thereof shall threaten to or take reprisals against any tenant as a result of:
a. 
The tenant's efforts to secure or enforce any rights under the lease or contract, or under the laws of the State of New Jersey, or of the Borough of North Plainfield, or of the United States; or
b. 
The tenant's good faith complaint to a governmental authority of the landlord's alleged violation of any health, safety code or building code, or of any other ordinance, State law or regulation having as its objective the regulation of premises used for dwelling purposes; or
c. 
The tenant's being an organizer of, a member of, or involved in any activities of, any lawful organization; or
d. 
The tenant's serving in any elective or appointive office or position of the Borough.
[Ord. #621, S 2]
In any prosecution brought under this Section, the Court may infer that a reprisal was threatened or taken if the landlord:
a. 
Threatens to serve or serves a notice to quit upon any tenant; or
b. 
Threatens to institute or institutes any action against a tenant to recover possession of premises, whether by summary dispossess proceedings, civil action for the possession of land, or otherwise; or
c. 
Threatens to alter substantially or alters substantially the terms of any tenancy (substantial alteration shall include the refusal to renew a lease or to continue a tenancy of the tenant without cause after the tenant has requested a renewal of the lease or tenancy not sooner than 90 days before the expiration date of the lease or tenancy, or the renewal date set forth in the lease agreement, whichever later occurs) after the tenant has engaged in any action set forth in paragraphs a, b, c, and d of subsection 12-28.1, provided, however, no reprisal shall be inferred as a result of any actions set forth in paragraph b of subsection 12-28.1 unless the tenant shall have first brought the good faith complaint to the attention of the landlord and shall have afforded the landlord a reasonable time to correct the alleged violation prior to complaining to the governmental authority.
[Ord. #621, S 3]
This Section shall apply to all rental premises or units used for dwelling purposes within the Borough except owner-occupied premises with not more than two rental units.