NEWARK, NJ — Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced the passage and signature of an ordinance on Nov. 18 designed to curtail abusive behavior by Newark landlords in maintaining apartments and renting out their properties to tenants using subsidized vouchers to pay rents.
The ordinance had previously been deferred since May 2019.
Councilmember LaMonica McIver said it had been a long process trying to get the ordinance approved and congratulated the council.
The ordinance will require landlords to have apartments undergo full inspections by the Division of Housing Code Enforcement before they can be rented to new tenants, and receive a Certificate of Code Compliance. This is intended to prevent landlords from renting uninhabitable apartments.
Landlords who rent apartments that do not earn a Certificate of Code Compliance will be required to relocate the tenant in the same building, or issue all security deposits, so that the tenant can secure a new rental unit, or provide the tenant with three months of rent paid so that the tenant can secure another rental unit.
The second portion of the ordinance will ban Newark landlords from accepting subsidized rental vouchers from out-of-city, county, state, out-of-state, or federal government agencies for more than one month.
A number of Newark landlords are currently taking such vouchers for up to one year’s rent, allowing the tenants – often in dire need – to move into apartments, and then neglect their maintenance, leaving them uninhabitable.
Violations of the new ordinance will face legal action in Newark Municipal Court. Violators found guilty can face a range of fines from $250 to $1,000, or imprisonment for 90 days, or community service for 90 days. Each day’s violation of this section will constitute a separate offense, and unpaid fines will result in a lien on the property.
Lastly, a sub-section in the ordinance bars any person from knowingly bringing a person in a state of poverty and needing help in getting the basic necessities of food and shelter to Newark. Any person who violates that sub-section must convey such a needy person out of Newark.