[Adopted 11-24-1998 by Ord. No. 98-13 as Ch. 9, Art. VI, of the 1998 Code]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AVAILABLE FOR RENT TO TENANTS
- Fit for habitation as defined by the statutes, codes and ordinances in full force and effect in the State of New Jersey, County of Mercer, Township of Ewing, and occupied or unoccupied and offered for rent.
- CONSUMER PRICE INDEX
- The average between areas entitled Philadelphia, PA - NJ and those entitled New York, New York - Northeastern NJ, published periodically by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Middle Atlantic Region, Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers.
- 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.
- The person or persons letting, owning or managing an individually administered residential multiple-family dwelling situate within the Township.
- MAJOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT
- A substantial improvement in the rental property for the
benefit of the health, safety or welfare of the tenants different
from ordinary repair, replacement and maintenance and which increases
the market value of the rental unit or property.[Amended 2-26-2002 by Ord. No. 02-04]
- RESIDENTIAL MULTIPLE-FAMILY DWELLING
- Any individually administered building, structure or complex of one or more stories or a portion thereof and any land appurtenant thereto containing 20 or more residential multiple-family dwelling units. Excluded herein are motels, hotels or other buildings or structures serving transients.
- The person or persons to whom a residential multiple-family dwelling unit is let situate in the Township. Tenant shall be any person or persons residing in a residential, multiple-family dwelling by virtue of any type of tenancy, be it oral or written, by lease or otherwise, and whether it is called tenancy at will, month-to-month tenancy, periodic tenancy or otherwise.
There is hereby created a Rent Control Board consisting of five members, appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Township Council, selected on the basis of their qualifications and fitness for service on the Board. Of the five members, one shall be a landlord and one shall be a tenant. The other three members shall be of neither class. Of the five members, all shall be residents of the Township, except that the landlord member need not be a resident.
The Rent Control Board be and is hereby authorized and designated the administrative agency for purposes of administering P.L. 1981, Chapter 226, known and cited as the "Senior Citizens and Disabled Protected Tenancy Act" (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.22 et seq.), as may be amended from time to time.
Any member shall be disqualified from participation in any phase of any dispute, controversy or claim whatsoever involving the residential multiple-family dwelling in which the member has or has had any security, ownership, management, leasehold or other interest of whatsoever nature. Such disqualification shall not be mandatory if the member's interest in the residential multiple-family dwelling was extinguished more than five years preceding the member's appointment. This shall not prevent a member from self-disqualification for any other legal, valid reason.
Members and alternates shall be appointed for two years.
Members and alternates shall serve without compensation.
There shall be appropriated in each annual budget of the Township such sum as may be determined by the Township Council to be necessary for the purpose of administering this article. Requests of the Board for appropriations shall be specific and submitted to the Municipal Clerk for presentation to the Council on or before April 1 of the subsequent fiscal year budget.
There shall be a Secretary and an Attorney to the Board. The Secretary shall be appointed by the Mayor. The Secretary's compensation shall be determined by the Mayor in the same manner as he determines other Township salaries. The Attorney may be appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Council, pursuant to a professional services resolution.
The Board shall organize at its first meeting as hereafter set forth, and annually thereafter, and shall at such meeting choose from among its regular members a Chairman and such other officers as it may deem necessary.
There shall be appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Council, two alternates to each of the three classes of members of the Rent Control Board: two landlord alternates; two tenant alternates; and two nonlandlord, nontenant alternates. An alternate may vote on matters already in progress upon certification that he or she has reviewed all prior proceedings in the matter and is familiar therewith.
Any member or alternate may be removed by the Mayor or Council for cause, on written charges served upon the member or alternate and after a hearing thereon where the member or alternate shall be entitled to be heard and present evidence in person or by counsel.
A majority of the whole number of regular members shall constitute a quorum. If a quorum is not present, including alternates, one hour after the appointed time for any meeting, the presiding officer shall declare the meeting or hearing adjourned.
The Board shall meet on the first Tuesday of every month at 8:00 p.m., except that the Board may, by a majority of the regular members, dispense with, change or increase the number or time of meetings. When the time for any regular meeting of the Board falls on a legal holiday, as prescribed by the Township Council, such meeting shall be held on some other day of the week at the convenience of the Board. All meetings of the Board shall conform to requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act of New Jersey, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 et seq.
A special meeting may be called at any time upon request of a majority of the members of the Board. The request and call for a special meeting shall specify the purpose of the meeting. The call for a special meeting shall be served by the Chair upon each Board member at least 72 hours prior to the time for which the meeting is called. Upon the call for a special meeting, the Chair, or other designated officer, shall forthwith give notice thereof by telephone or telegraph at such place previously designated by the Board member for that purpose.
Accurate minutes of all meetings, complaints and decisions shall be kept and filed monthly with the Municipal Clerk. Minutes in conformity with the Open Public Meetings Act of New Jersey, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 et seq., shall be kept.
In the absence of specific direction from this article, as amended from time to time, and of Board rules and regulations, Robert's Rules, as revised from time to time, shall govern the conduct of the Board.
The Board may adopt such administrative rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement this article. Such rules and regulations shall be filed with the Clerk of the Township.
The Board shall have the power to subpoena witnesses, books and records, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:67A-1 et seq.
Insofar as the Open Public Meetings Act applies whenever any material, the disclosure of which constitutes an invasion of individual privacy, is to be discussed, confidentiality shall be observed.
Appeal of any decision of the Board may be had to any court of competent jurisdiction.
[Amended 10-15-1998 by Ord. No. 98-11]
Establishment of rents. Establishment of rents between a landlord and a tenant in all residential multiple-family dwellings shall hereafter be determined by the provisions of this article. At the expiration of any tenancy, be it oral or written, by lease or otherwise, and whether it is called tenancy at will, month-to-month tenancy, periodic tenancy or otherwise, no landlord may request or receive a percentage increase in rent which is greater than the percentage calculated by using the following formula:
The rent increases for leases commencing on and after January 1, 1989, shall be computed in accord with the following example:
The Rent Control Board shall have the power and duty to hold hearings and adjudicate:
Hardship increase in rents. Hardship increase is rent in addition to the permitted increase. The Board shall not permit a total increase which is more than a just and reasonable rate of return. The original investment of the landlord shall be the basis in determining just and reasonable rate of return. Increase for mortgage; maintenance payments. In the event that a landlord cannot meet mortgage payments, maintenance costs or other costs, the landlord may appeal to the Board for hardship increase in rent, and the Board may grant the landlord a hardship rent increase to meet these payments. Prior to any such appeal to the Board, a landlord shall 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 for the appeal. Such notice shall be posted for at least 15 days prior to the proposed filing of the appeal.
Increase for major improvements.
[Amended 2-26-2002 by Ord. No. 02-04]
Notification of tenants. A landlord may also seek a hardship increase in rent for major capital improvements or services. The landlord shall notify each tenant by certified mail of:
The total cost of the completed capital improvement or service.
The number of years of useful life of the improvement as claimed by the landlord for purposes of depreciation for income tax purposes.
The average cost of the improvement.
The total number of square feet of the residential multiple-family dwelling.
The total square feet occupied by the tenant.
The capital improvement surcharge the landlord is seeking from each tenant.
Appeal to the Board. The landlord seeking a capital improvement or service surcharge shall appeal for the surcharge to the Board, which shall determine if the improvement is a major improvement and, if so, shall permit such increase, provided that it is clearly demonstrated to be necessary for the health, safety and general welfare of the tenants. If such increase is granted, it shall not be considered rent and calculated in any other hardship increase in rent applications.
Decrease in rent. Decreases in rent are those permitted by the Board upon application of a tenant after which the Board has adjudicated that there has been a significant decrease in maintenance, repairs, facilities or services, or a combination thereof.
[Amended 2-26-2002 by Ord. No. 02-04]
Procedures applicable to all. The following shall apply:
[Amended 2-26-2002 by Ord. No. 02-04]
All applications to the Board shall be in writing on forms prescribed by the Board and filed with the Board Secretary. Upon receipt, the Secretary shall forward copies to all members and alternates and schedule the application for the next regularly scheduled meeting. The Secretary shall notify each applicant and respondent of the scheduled time and date. Ordinary mail shall be sufficient.
The burden of proof shall be on the applicant.
All parties may be heard, call witnesses, be represented by counsel and offer any relevant evidence or material.
Applications for hardship increase in rent, Subsection A(1) and (2), shall be filed not later than 90 days prior to the proposed effective date of the increase. Applications for decrease in rent, Subsection B, shall be filed within 90 days of the alleged significant decrease in maintenance, repairs, facilities and/or services. Proof of service upon the affected tenant or landlord, as the case may be, by certified mail, return receipt requested, or personal service shall accompany each application. Any applications not complying with the provisions of this article shall not be considered.
Any appeals under Subsection A shall be supported by a certified audit prepared by a certified public accountant.
The Board may grant, deny or modify any application under Subsection A(1) and (2) or B, and its decision shall be binding on all parties.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to interfere with contractual obligations.
In the event that a tax appeal is taken by the landlord and the landlord is successful in the appeal and taxes refunded, the tenants shall receive, pro rata, 50% of the refund, after deducting expenses incurred by the landlord in prosecuting the appeal.
The provisions of this article shall not apply to initial rents charged at the inception of a new tenancy or leasehold, and thereafter it shall apply only to renewal rents. Any increase in rent whatsoever at a time other than at the expiration of any tenancy, be it oral or written, by lease or otherwise, and whether it is called tenancy at will, month-to-month tenancy, periodic tenancy, or otherwise, shall be void. Any rental increase in excess of that authorized by the provisions of this article shall be void.
Any landlord seeking an increase in rent shall notify the tenant, by certified mail or by personal service, of the calculations involved in computing the increase, including all information required in order to compute the formula, as set forth in § 14-37, as well as the rental charged for the apartment under the terms of the most recent prior lease.
Willful reprisal by a landlord against a tenant or by a tenant against a landlord, of any nature whatsoever, because of the parties' use of the provisions of this article, shall be punishable, upon conviction, by the penalty as provided in Chapter 1, General Provisions, Article III, General Penalty.
Any significant decrease in maintenance, repairs, facilities or services shall be deemed an added rent and may result in a decrease in rents as provided in § 14-38C. In addition, it may be deemed a reprisal and subject the landlord to penalties provided in § 14-42. Significant decrease in maintenance, repairs, facilities or services is a factor to be considered in all applications hereunder. If the Board shall determine there has been a significant decrease in maintenance, repairs, facilities or services, it:
May also order a pro-rata share of all rentals collected from the residential multiple-family dwelling to be placed in escrow.
Shall appoint a trustee to take custody of such account.
Shall direct the trustee to provide the maintenance, repairs, facilities or services in accord with public bidding laws, and to pay therefor out of the escrow.
Shall order the landlord to pay the trustee a reasonable fee for his services. The order shall continue so long as the landlord fails to provide the required maintenance, repairs, facilities and services.
Any written or oral provision in any agreement whereby the rights conferred under this article are waived is deemed against public policy, void and unenforceable.
No landlord shall, after the effective date of this article, charge any rents in excess of what he was receiving from the effective date of this article, except for increases as authorized by this article. Notice of increases after the effective date hereof, but more than 30 days preceding passage hereof and not appealed, are not affected hereby.
The owner of housing space or a multiple dwelling 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 article.
This article, being necessary for the welfare of the Township and its inhabitants, shall be liberally constructed to effectuate the purposes thereof.