[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Washington 5-26-2005 by Ord. No. 9-2005. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning, the following words or phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meaning:
- The individual or individuals designated by the owner as the person(s) authorized by the owner to perform any duty imposed upon the owner by this chapter. The term does not necessarily mean a licensed real estate broker or salesman of the State of New Jersey as these terms are defined by N.J.S.A. 45:15-3; however, such term may include a licensed real estate broker or salesman of the State of New Jersey if such person designated by the owner as his agent is so licensed.
- APARTMENT COMPLEX
- Two or more buildings, each containing two or more apartments, which are located within close proximity of each other and are owned by the same owner.
- APARTMENT or DWELLING
- Any apartment, cottage, bungalow, any room or rooms in a rooming/boarding house or other dwelling unit consisting of one or more rooms occupying all or part of a floor or floors in a building, whether designated with or without housekeeping facilities for dwelling purposes and notwithstanding whether the apartment shall be designated for residence, for office or the operation of any industry or business or for any type of independent use.
- The license issued by the Township Clerk or designee attesting that the rental unit has been properly registered in accordance with this chapter.
- The person to whom the license is issued pursuant to this chapter. The term "licensee" includes within its definition the term "agent" where applicable.
- Any person for group of persons, firm, corporation, or officer thereof, partnership, association or trust who owns, operates, exercises control over or is in charge of a rented facility.
- An individual, firm, corporation, partnership, association, trust or other legal entity or any combination thereof.
- RENTAL FACILITY
- Every building, group of buildings or a portion thereof which is kept, used, maintained, advertised or held out to be a place where living accommodations are supplied, whether furnished or unfurnished, for pay or other consideration, to one or more individuals and is meant to include apartments, apartment complexes, single-family homes, multiple units within a single residential building, rooming houses or group homes.
- RENTAL UNIT
- A dwelling unit which is available for lease or rental purposes and is meant to include individual apartments located within apartment complexes or individual rooms available for lease within a residential building.
All rental units shall hereinafter be registered with the Township Clerk or designee of the Township of Washington or such other person as designated by the Township Council on forms which shall be provided for that purpose and which shall be obtained from the Township Clerk or designee. Such registration shall occur on an annual basis as provided herein.
Each rental unit shall be registered with each change in occupancy. The license term shall commence on September 1 and shall be valid until August 31 of the following calendar year, at which time it shall expire and a new registration shall be required. The initial registration shall occur within 45 days following the adoption of this chapter. Any lease which has been executed prior to the adoption of this chapter shall not be affected, but the rental unit must nevertheless be registered, inspected and licensed in accordance with this chapter. No rental unit shall hereafter be rented unless the rental unit is registered and licensed in accordance with this chapter.
Screening for new inhabitants.
At each change of occupancy of any rental unit, the record owner or owners of the premises shall be required to conduct a tenant screening for the new inhabitants of the unit. Such screening shall include the substantial equivalent of the following:
A check for activity in the Landlord-Tenant Section of the Special Civil Part of the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey for the county of the tenant's last residence for a period of three years;
All records of any conviction for any offense in the municipal court of the municipality of the resident's last residence for a period of three years; and
All records of any conviction for any offense in the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey for the county of the resident's last residence for a period of three years.
Proof of an adequate screening shall be a letter indicating that such a screening was completed by a reputable tenant screening company or organization. Such a letter must be dated and shall be prepared by the screening company or organization.
No certificate of occupancy shall issue unless proof of an adequate screening has been provided or unless the license applicant indicates in writing his or her refusal to submit proof of a screening.
Without in any way intending to infringe upon the requirements of N.J.S.A. 46:8-28, all rental units shall be registered and licensed as provided herein. Every owner shall file with the Township Clerk or designee of the Township of Washington or other such person as designated by the Township Council a registration form for each unit contained within a building or structure, which shall include the following information:
The name and address of the record owner or owners of the premises and the record owner or owners of the rental business if not the same persons. In the case of a partnership, the names and addresses of all general partners shall be provided, together with the telephone numbers for each of such individuals indicating where such individuals may be reached both during the day and evening hours. If the record owner is a corporation, the name and address of the registered agent and corporate officers of said corporation shall be provided, together with the telephone numbers for each of such individuals indicating where such individuals may be reached both during the day and evening hours. All registration addresses shall be physical addresses; post office boxes alone are insufficient.
If the address of any record owner is not located in New Jersey, the name and address of a person residing or who has a principle office in New Jersey who is authorized to accept notices from a tenant and to issue receipts therefor and to accept service of process on behalf of the record owner.
The name and address of the agent of the premises, if any.
The name and address, including the dwelling unit number of the superintendent, janitor, custodian of other individual employed by the owner or agent to provide regular maintenance service, if any.
The name, address and telephone number of an individual representative of the owner or agent who may be reached or contacted at any time in the event of an emergency affecting the premises or any unit of dwelling space therein, including such emergencies as the future of any essential service or system, and who has the authority to make emergency decisions concerning the building and any repair thereto or expenditure in connection therewith.
The name and address of every holder of a recorded mortgage on the premises.
If fuel oil is used to heat the building and the landlord furnishes the heat in the building, the name and address of the fuel oil dealer servicing the building and the grade of fuel oil used.
A classification of the rental unit type using the following abbreviations:
As to each rental unit, the following suffix classifications in addition to the above rental unit type classifications:
Whether or not the landlord has conducted a tenant screening for each new tenant and authorized adult household member.
Such other information as may be prescribed by the Township.
The Township Clerk or designee shall index and file the registration forms. In doing same the Township Clerk or designee shall follow the mandates of N.J.S.A. 46:8-28.1, as amended and supplemented, so that the filing of the registration form will simultaneously satisfy the registration requirements of N.J.S.A. 46:8-28 to the extent that it applies to the property being registered and will also satisfy the registration requirements of this chapter.
Every person required to file a registration form pursuant to this chapter shall file an amended registration form within 20 days after any changes in the information required to be included thereon. No fee shall be required for the filing of an amendment except where the ownership of the premises is changed.
Each rental unit shall be inspected at least once every twelve-month period.
Such inspections shall be performed by such person, persons or agency duly authorized and appointed by the Township of Washington, and inspections made by persons or an agency other than the duly authorized and appointed person, persons or agency of the Township of Washington shall not be used as a valid substitute.
Unsatisfactory inspection. In the event that the inspection(s) of a rental unit does not result in a satisfactory inspection, such property shall not thereafter be registered nor shall a license issue, and the owner of the property or his agent shall not lease or rent such property nor shall any tenant occupy the property until the necessary corrections have been made so as to bring the property and rental unit into compliance with the applicable code and the property is thereafter subsequently inspected, registered and licensed. In the event that the property is occupied when such conditions are discovered, all such corrections shall be made within 60 days; and if not made within that time period, the owner shall be deemed in violation of this chapter, and every day that the violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct violation, subject to the penalty provisions of § 185-19 of this chapter.
The inspection officers are hereby authorized to make inspections to determine the condition of rental facilities, rental units and rooming/boarding houses in order that they may promote the purposes of this chapter to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the occupants of rental facilities, rental units and rooming/boarding houses and of the general public. For the purposes of making such inspections, the inspecting officers are hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey rental facilities, rental units and rooming/boarding houses at all reasonable times. The owner or occupant of every rental facility, rental unit and rooming/boarding house shall give the inspecting officer free access to the rental facility, rental unit and rooming/boarding house at all reasonable times for the purpose of such inspections, examinations and surveys.
Every occupant shall give the owner of the rental facility, rental unit and rooming/boarding house access to any part of such rental facility, rental unit and rooming/boarding house at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such repairs or alterations as are necessary to effect compliance with the provisions of this chapter or any lawful order issued pursuant thereto.
Complaints. Within 10 days of receipt of a complaint alleging a reported violation of this chapter, an inspecting officer shall conduct an inspection as hereinbefore provided.
No person shall hereafter occupy any rental unit nor shall the owner permit occupancy of any rental unit within the Township of Washington which is not registered and licensed in accordance with this chapter.
Upon the filing of a completed registration form and payment of the prescribed fee and a satisfactory inspection, the owner shall be entitled to the issuance of a license, indicating the applicable classification designations provided in § 185-5H and I commencing on the date of the issuance and expiring on the same date of the next calendar year. A registration form shall be required for each rental unit, and license shall issue to the owner for each rental unit, even if more than one rental unit is contained in the property.
Payment of fees; amendment to fees.
At the time of the filing of the registration form and prior to the issuance of a license, the owner or agent of the owner must pay a fee as follows:
A Township Council resolution may amend the fees listed above.
If the owner of the property is a senior citizen who resides in a unit of the property and rents out the remaining unit and would otherwise qualify under the State of New Jersey property tax deduction under N.J.S.A. 54:4-8.41, there shall be no fee.
If any fee is not paid within 30 days of its due date, a late fee surcharge of $15 shall be paid or the prevailing rate as set forth in the applicable resolution of Township Council will be assessed.
Every owner shall provide each occupant or tenant occupying a rental unit with a copy of the registration form required by this chapter as well as the Truth in Renting Handbook published by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. This particular provision shall not apply to any hotel, motel or guest house registered with the State of New Jersey pursuant to the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Act as defined in N.J.S.A. 55:31A-3. This provision may be complied with by posting a copy of the registration certificate in a conspicuous place within the rental unit(s).
The maximum number of occupants shall be posted in each rental unit. It shall be unlawful for any person, including the owner, agent, tenant or registered tenant, to allow a greater number of persons than the posted maximum number of occupants to sleep in or occupy overnight the rental unit for a period exceeding 29 days. Any person violating this provision shall be subject to the penalty provisions of § 185-19 of this chapter.
Only those occupants whose names are on the file with the Township as required in this chapter may reside in the licensed premises. It shall be unlawful for any other person to reside in said premises, and any owner, agent, tenant or registered tenant allowing a nonregistered party to reside in said premises shall be in violation of this section and shall be subject to the penalty provisions of § 185-19 of this chapter.
No rental unit may be registered and no license shall issue for any property containing a rental unit unless all municipa1 taxes, water and sewer charges and any other municipal assessments are paid on a current basis.
All dwelling units shall be maintained in accordance with the Uniform Construction Code and with Chapter 179, Property Maintenance.
Occupants. Only those occupants whose names are on file with the Township Clerk as provided in this chapter may reside in the licensed premises. It shall be unlawful for any other person to reside in said premises, and this provision may be enforced against the landlord, tenant or other person residing in said premises.
Nuisance prohibited. No rental facility shall be conducted in a manner which shall result in any unreasonable disturbance or disruption to the surrounding properties and property owners or of the public in general, such that it shall constitute a nuisance as defined in the ordinance of the Township of Washington.
Compliance with other laws. The maintenance of all rental facilities and the conduct engaged in upon the premises by occupants and their guests shall at all times be in full compliance with all applicable ordinances and regulations of the Township of Washington and with all applicable state and federal laws.
Grounds. In addition to any other penalty prescribed herein, an owner may be subject to the revocation or suspension of the license issued hereunder upon the happening of one or more of the following on repeated and/or multiple occasions evidencing a pattern of disregard of this chapter:
Conviction of a violation of this chapter in the Municipal Court or any other court of competent jurisdiction.
Continuously permitting the rental unit to be occupied by more than the maximum number of occupants as defined in this chapter.
Maintaining the rental unit or units or the property in which the rental unit is a part in a dangerous condition likely to result in injury to person or property.
Procedure; written complaint; notice; hearing.
A complaint seeking the revocation or suspension of a license may be filed by any one or more of the following: Chief of Police, Construction Code Official, Housing Inspector, the Zoning Enforcement Officer or any other person or office authorized to file such complaint. Such complaint shall be in writing and filed with the Township Clerk or designee. The complaint shall be specific and shall be sufficient to apprise the licensee of the charges so as to permit the licensee to present a defense. The individual(s) filing the complaint may do so on the basis of information and belief and need not rely on personal information.
Upon the filing of such written complaint, the Township Clerk or designee shall immediately inform the Township Council and a date for a hearing shall be scheduled which shall not be sooner than 20 days nor more than 45 days thereafter. The Township Clerk or designee shall forward a copy of the complaint and a notice as to the date of the hearing to the licensee and the agent, if any, at the address indicated on the registration form. Service upon the agent shall be sufficient.
The hearing required by this section shall be held before a hearing officer designated by the Township. Such hearing officer should preferably be a Municipal Court Judge or retired Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, depending upon availability. Such officer shall transmit his/her findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendation for penalty to the Township Council within 30 days of the conclusion of the hearing. The Township Council shall then review the matter and may accept, reject or modify the recommendations of the hearing officer based on the record before such hearing officer. Following the hearing, a decision shall be rendered dismissing the complaint, revoking or suspending the license or determining that the license shall not be renewed or reissued for one or more subsequent years
The hearing shall be recorded. All witnesses shall be sworn prior to testifying. The rules of evidence shall not be strictly applied, and the evidential rules and burden of proof shall be those that generally control administrative hearings.
The Township Solicitor or his designee shall appear and prosecute on behalf of the complainant in all hearings conducted pursuant to this section.
Defenses. It shall be a defense to any proceeding for the revocation, suspension or other disciplinary action involving a rental license by demonstrating that the owner has abated the conditions or circumstances giving rise to the revocation proceeding, including but not limited to the institution of legal action against the tenant(s), occupant(s) or guest(s) for recovery of the premises, eviction of the tenant(s) or otherwise. This defense shall in no way be available to an owner who has refused to submit proof of an adequate tenant screening in accordance with § 185-4.
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction in the Municipal Court of the Township of Washington or other such court having jurisdiction, be liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days, or both. Each day that a violation occurs shall be deemed a separate and distinct violation subject to the penalty provisions of this chapter.
If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence or other part of this chapter is adjudged unconstitutional or invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder of this chapter but shall be confined in its effect to the section, subsection, paragraph, sentence or other part of this chapter directly involved in the controversy in which said judgment shall have been rendered, and all other provisions of this chapter shall remain in full force and effect.
The ordinance shall take effect immediately upon final adoption and publication in the manner prescribed by law.