[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Washington 10-26-1995 by Ord. No. 26-1995 as Sec. 12-18 of the 1994 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Property maintenance — See Ch. 179.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AVAILABLE FOR RENT TO TENANTS
- Fit for habitation as defined by statutes, codes and ordinances in full force and effect in the State of New Jersey, County of Gloucester and Township of Washington, and either occupied or unoccupied and offered for rent.
- CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT
- Any item considered as such under the Federal Internal Revenue Statute and Regulations, subject to the approval of the Rent Leveling Board.
- Includes any building or structure or trailer or land used as a trailer park, either occupied or unoccupied, rented or offered for rent to one or more tenants of family units. Exempt from the provisions of this section are motels, hotels and similar types of buildings and housing units of two units or less. Housing units, newly constructed and rented for the first time, are exempt and the initial rent may be determined by the landlord. All subsequent rents will be subject to the provisions of this chapter.
- HOUSING SPACE
- An area or mobile home pad designed and constructed as a functional unit, including that portion rented or offered for rent for living and dwelling purposes of one individual or family unit, together with all privileges, services, furnishings, furniture, equipment, facilities or improvements connected with the use and occupancy of such portion of the property.
- A written or oral lease in existence between the landlord and the tenant, and, in the absence of a written or oral lease or in circumstances wherein a month-to-month tenancy is created by the tenant and landlord, either explicitly, implicitly or by operation of law, "lease" shall mean, for the purposes of this chapter, the twelve-month period commencing the first day of the month in which all leases in the mobile home park are renewable.
- MOBILE HOME SPACE
- That portion of a mobile home park rented or offered for rent for the purpose of parking or positioning a trailer or mobile home for living and dwelling purposes to one or more tenants or family units, together with all the privileges, services, 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 in which the Township is a part, published periodically by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor.
- RENTAL INCOME
- The payable rent charged and received for the mobile home space over the previous twelve-month period exclusive of any of the following: all real property taxes, space fees or license fees charged by the Township pursuant to any duly adopted ordinance; any cost of supplied utilities; and any increase for hardship or major capital improvements as permitted hereinafter.
- Mailing to the home address by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by hand delivery certified to by affidavit or by an acknowledgment of service executed by the person served, which affidavit or acknowledgment of service must be retained in the records of the person causing service.
- SUPPLIED UTILITIES
- Fuel, electrical, water and sewer services supplied directly to the individual mobile home, for which services the landlord is responsible to the supplier for payment.
The establishment of rents between a landlord and a tenant to whom this section is applicable shall hereafter be determined by the following provisions:
At the expiration of a lease or at the termination of a lease of a periodic tenant, no landlord may request or receive any increase in the rental income and additional charges for that dwelling or housing space from any tenant, new or continuing, which is greater than a combination of the following:
Any increased cost to the landlord for supplied utilities.
Any increase to the landlord in mobile home space fees or license fees charged by the Township pursuant to any duly adopted ordinance.
Any amount equal to the percentage difference between the consumer price index 120 days prior to the date of the application for such increase and the consumer price index at the date that the prior lease was entered into, whichever is less. Any continuing tenant at the termination of a tenancy shall not suffer or be caused to pay a rent increase for the housing space or dwelling unit in any twelve-month period which exceeds the above permitted increase for the twelve-month period. Specifically, in the event that a specific term for the tenancy does not exist between the landlord and tenant pursuant to any written or oral lease or in the event that explicitly, implicitly, appliedly or by operation or law the relationship between the landlord and tenant is realistically deemed to be a month-to-month tenancy, tenants so situate shall not suffer or be caused to pay more than one rent increase allowable hereunder in any twelve-month period for the relevant housing space or dwelling unit.
No landlord may request or receive any increase in rental income or additional charges, except as provided by this chapter, until such time as the landlord shall have obtained approval, in writing, from the Rent Leveling Board for such increase. Furthermore, there shall be only one increase granted per landlord per dwelling or housing space for any calendar year for each of the increases permitted by this chapter, which request and decision shall be binding upon all tenancies in existence with that particular landlord which expire thereafter during such calendar year, unless otherwise provided herein. The landlord shall notify the Rent Leveling Board, in writing, at least 60 days prior to the effective date of any increase proposed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. Such application shall have attached the calculations and/or computations involved in computing the requested increase. A copy of the notice shall be served upon all tenants who may be affected by the increase applied for. Upon receipt of the notice, and where the increase sought is based upon Subsection A (1) and (3) above, the Rent Leveling Board shall schedule its hearing on such proposed increase. The landlord shall post in the lobby of each building or, if no lobby is present, in a conspicuous place in or about the premises involved, a notice of such hearing date at least five days prior to the proposed date of hearing. Where the increase sought is based upon Subsection A (2) above, no hearing shall be scheduled, and the increase shall become effective on the date specified in the notice if all other provisions of this section have been complied with. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, no hearings shall be required by the Rent Leveling Board on any proposed increase unless a hearing is requested, in writing, by a tenant within 10 days of receipt of notice of the proposed increase.
Void increases. Any rental increase at a time other than as permitted by this chapter or at the expiration of a lease or termination of a periodic lease shall be void. Any rent increase in excess of that authorized by the provisions of this chapter shall be void, and increased payments made pursuant to such illegal rent increase shall be returned to the tenants.
Exception. As an exception to this provision, each landlord subject to the provisions of this chapter when renting a mobile home space to a new tenant as a result of the existing tenant vacating the mobile home and/or rental space shall have the right to charge a fair market value to the new tenant. This provision shall apply to the new tenant, whether or not the new tenant buys an existing home from an existing tenant or brings a new home in to the mobile home park. After the new rent is determined, subsequent rental increases to the tenant who takes possession shall be subject to the other provisions of this chapter. In the event the mobile home owner is selling the mobile home at a private sale and the mobile home will remain on the rental space, the landlord, upon written request, shall notify the existing tenant by certified mail of the rent that will serve as a base year for the new tenant. Once such rate has been set by the landlord, the landlord shall have no right to alter or amend such rate for a period of one year, unless a shorter time period is approved upon petition to the Rent Leveling Board.
Rent increases, as authorized by this chapter, may be allowed only if the landlord produces a written statement by the appropriate local officer that the housing space or dwelling involved with the increase substantially complies with all existing health and building codes. Separate written statements, dated within 90 days prior to the date the proposed rent increase is to take effect and signed by the appropriate official shall be obtained from the Washington Township Construction Official.
Where any housing space or dwelling, or any part thereof, is being operated in violation of state, county or municipal codes, and where such violation adversely affects habitability, any affected tenant(s) may apply to the Rent Leveling Board for a reasonable reduction in rent, commensurate with such effect upon habitability. Upon receipt of such application, which must be in writing, the Rent Leveling Board shall notify the landlord of the application and shall schedule the matter for a hearing. If, as a result of such hearing, the Rent Leveling Board determines that a violation of any state, county or municipal code exists and that such violation affects habitability, it may grant a reasonable reduction in rent to the affected tenant(s), which rent shall remain in effect until the landlord corrects such violation(s).
Any landlord seeking an increase in rent predicated upon § 184-2A(3), in the application for a rent increase, shall annex the actual calculations involved in computing the rental increase and shall also attach such calculations to the notice of the hearing date required to be posted in the lobby or other conspicuous place pursuant to § 184-2A(2) hereof. The notice of increase and calculation shall include:
Actual rental increase, in terms of dollars, determined by multiplying the old rent by the percentage and adding this amount to the old rent to determine the new rent.
Such notice shall be provided to all affected tenants, including year-to-year tenants, periodic tenants of less than one year and tenants whose tenancy has no specific term, pursuant to an oral or written lease with the landlord, or whose tenancy is construed explicitly, implicitly or impliedly or by operation of law as a month-to-month tenancy.
A tenant shall be entitled to a rent reduction from a landlord by reason of a decrease in municipal property taxes, municipal water and sewer rates, cost of supplied utilities or any decrease in space fees or license fees charged by the Township. The reduction shall not exceed that amount authorized by the following provisions:
Where the decrease consists of a decrease in the municipal property tax by reason of aid received from the State Aid for Schools Fund and where such decrease is subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 54:4-62 et seq., as may be amended from time to time, the landlord shall make such reduction in the form of a rebate upon such terms as is provided in such statute.
Where the decrease consists of a decrease in municipal property tax other than that decrease provided for in Subsection A above, the landlord shall divide the decrease in the present tax over the tax for the previous year by the total number of completed dwelling or housing spaces existing under the landlord's control. The decrease each tenant is entitled to shall be a credit against rent taken in 12 equal monthly installments, commencing September of each year. Any tenant entitled to a rent decrease hereunder shall be served with a notice of the calculations involved in computing such reduction and the effective date of the reduction.
Where the decrease consists of a decrease in the cost of supplied utilities, space fees or license fees, the landlord shall divide the decrease in the present cost of supplied utilities, mobile home space fees or license fees of the previous year by the total number of completed dwelling or housing spaces under his/her control and subject to this chapter in order to obtain the decrease per space. The decrease each tenant is entitled to shall be a credit against rent on 12 monthly installments commencing from the effective date of such reduction. Any tenant entitled to a rent decrease hereunder shall be served with a notice by the landlord, including the calculations involved in computing such reduction and the effective date of the reduction.
The landlord shall be entitled to rent surcharge for any increase in the municipal property taxes. Any landlord seeking a surcharge for property taxes shall serve the tenants with a notice, at least 30 days prior to the date on which such surcharges are to be effective, of the calculations involved, including the property tax for the mobile home park for the year immediately preceding the year for which the tax surcharge is sought and the increase in the present tax over the tax for the preceding year, divided by the total number of completed dwelling or housing spaces under the control of the landlord and subject to this chapter. The tax surcharge each tenant is liable for shall be paid in 12 monthly installments commencing September of each year.
In the event that a municipal property tax appeal is taken by the landlord and the landlord is successful in such appeal and the tax is reduced, the tenants involved shall receive 50% of such reduction after the landlord's cost of securing such tax reduction has been deducted. The landlord shall receive the remaining benefits of the tax reduction. Thereafter, in succeeding years, the tenant(s) shall receive the benefit of the entire reduction.
Any such successful landlord shall serve the tenant(s), within 30 days after receipt of the judgment, with a notice of the calculations involved, including an itemization of the cost of securing the reduction and the reduction each tenant is entitled to, determined by dividing 1/2 of the remainder of the amount of the tax reduction by the number of completed housing spaces or dwellings under the control of the landlord and subject to this chapter.
Hardship. A landlord who finds that present rentals from the building or housing space under his/her control and which are subject to this chapter on which (s)he seeks relief hereunder are insufficient to cover the cost of payments on a first and any subsequent mortgages, the proceeds of which were used for acquisition of the mobile home park or directly used to improve and upgrade the building or housing space complex on which relief hereunder is sought, and payments for maintenance, and at the same time allow the landlord to achieve a reasonable rate of return on the fair market value of the property, may appeal to the Rent Leveling Board for increased rental. The Board may grant a landlord a hardship rent increase to meet these payments and to allow him/her to achieve a reasonable rate of return after considering the condition of the premises and the degree of hardship to the landlord.
Notice to tenants. Prior to any such appeal to the Rent Leveling Board, a landlord must post in the lobby of each building or, if no lobby is present, in a conspicuous place in and about the premises a notice of such appeal setting forth the basis of the appeal. Such notices must be posted for at least five days prior to the proposed date of hearing. In addition, each tenant to be affected must be served with a notice of appeal and with notice of the appeal hearing date.
Major improvements. A landlord may seek an additional increase in rent for major capital improvements.
Notice to tenants. Prior to filing an appeal with the Rent Leveling Board, the landlord must serve each tenant with a notice of the total cost of the completed capital improvement; the number of useful years of life of the improvements, as claimed by the landlord for purposes of depreciation for income tax purposes; the average cost, including debt service of the improvement, calculated by dividing the cost of the major improvement by the total number of completed dwelling or housing spaces under the control of the landlord and subject to this section; and the capital improvements surcharge he/she is seeking from each tenant.
Decision of Rent Leveling Board. The landlord seeking a capital improvements surcharge shall apply for the surcharge to the Rent Leveling Board, which shall determine, after the landlord has served notice to the affected tenants of the hearing date, if such improvements are a major improvement and, if so, the amount of increase to be granted for such increase. No increase granted under this subsection shall exceed 10% of the tenant's rent, unless such increase or capital improvement is mandated by law.
Approval prior to improvement. An owner seeking additional rent for a capital improvement may apply to the Board for prior approval of any capital improvement and additional rent. If the Board determines that approval is to be granted, and subject to all of the requirements of this subsection, the owner may proceed with the capital improvement. In no instance may an owner impose additional rent for such capital improvement until such time as the improvement has been completed and the Board has determined that all requirements of this subsection and the board's terms and conditions have been complied with in full, and until the board has approved the specific amount of the capital improvement to be charged along with all terms and conditions, if any.
The landlord shall maintain the same standards of service, maintenance, furniture, furnishings and equipment in the housing space and/or dwelling as he/she provided or was required to provide by law or lease as of the date the lease was entered into or, in the absence of a specific written or oral lease, as of the date of the commencement of the tenancy.
No landlord shall charge any rents in excess of what he/she was receiving at the effective date of this chapter, except as allowed by the Board or pursuant to this chapter.
For every rent increase application, rent reduction application or any other type of appeal to the Rent Control Board, the applicant, whether the landlord or tenant, shall pay a nonrefundable application fee as set forth in Chapter 80, Fees, of this Code.
For any application filed by a landlord pursuant to § 184-10, Additional rent increases, the landlord shall file with the Township Clerk an escrow deposit for services of a professional certified public accountant, at rates to be fixed by the Township Council or Rent Control Board, who shall review the landlord's submission, determine its acceptability as to form and prepare a detailed accounting or financial review for the information of the board. Escrow fees which are deposited in excess of that required for consulting services shall be refunded to the landlord when the application has been disposed of by the Rent Control Board. In the event additional moneys are needed above the amount deposited for the services by the consultant, the applicant shall be informed of the amount needed and shall deposit the amount with the Township Clerk. ln no case shall the fees exacted from the landlord in connection with these applications be higher than $2,000.
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 Township and its inhabitants, shall be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes hereof.