Subject to the provisions of partial vacancy decontrol set forth in § 324-9, allowable rent increases for all other rental units falling within the Borough's rent leveling ordinances shall be determined as set forth herein.
At the expiration of a period of not less than 12 consecutive calendar months following the effective date of the last rental increase, a landlord may receive an increase in the rent for such rental unit not to exceed 5% of the prior base rent, subject to Subsection C below.
The maximum allowable annual rent increase that a landlord may charge a qualified senior citizen or disabled person shall be determined by the MAP formula and guidelines as set forth in the Borough's rent leveling ordinances in effect prior to the effective date hereof. The definition that shall be used to determine qualification by a senior citizen or disabled person is the definition utilized to determine protected tenancy status pursuant to the Senior Citizens and Disabled Protected Tenancy Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.22 et seq.).
The Borough's Rent Leveling Administrator is hereby empowered with the authority to hear and determine all applications for qualification as a senior citizen or disabled person.
[Amended 6-27-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-27]
Any rent increase other than as provided in this chapter shall be void.
The MAP shall be calculated annually as hereinafter provided. The MAP for a Class 1 dwelling shall consist of the Operating Costs Adjustment (OCA) + Tax Adjustment (TA) + Utilities Adjustment (UA) + Prior Year Carryover (PYC), if any. The MAP for a Class 2 dwelling shall consist of OCA + TA + PYC, if any.
The TA shall not be added to the MAP calculation whenever a real property tax increase has occurred as the result of a conversion of the apartment dwelling from rental to condominium or cooperative ownership.
[Amended 6-22-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-27]
The OCA for any calendar year shall be calculated by multiplying the percentage change in the "housing" element of the Index for the twelve-month period ending in August of the last prior calendar year by .35.
The TA for any calendar year for any dwelling shall be calculated in accordance with the following formula: .15 x the result of T2 - T1 divided by T1, where:
T2 equals all local property taxes finally assessed with respect to the dwelling for the last prior calendar year (after giving effect to any judgment of the Bergen County Board of Taxation with respect to said year); and
T1 equals all local property taxes finally assessed with respect to the dwelling for the next-to-last prior calendar year (after giving effect to any judgment of the Bergen County Board of Taxation with respect to said year).
For purposes of calculating the TA, any contiguous complex of dwellings owned and operated by the same landlord shall be aggregated and treated as one dwelling.
[Amended 6-22-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-27]
The UA for any calendar year shall be calculated by multiplying the percentage change in the "gas and electricity" element of the index for the 12-month period ending August of the last prior calendar year by .1.
Notwithstanding the provisions of § 324-3, if the MAP in any calendar year exceeds 6.5% for any Class 1 dwelling or 5% for any Class 2 dwelling, the MAP for said calendar year shall be limited to 6.5% or 5% respectively for such dwelling and the excess percentage shall constitute the PYC for said dwelling for the subsequent calendar year.
Any rental charge in excess of that authorized by the provisions of this chapter shall be void.
In the event that any single-family, condominium or cooperative rental unit shall become vacant, the landlord upon each such vacancy shall, subject to the registration provisions hereinafter set forth in Subsection C, be free to rent said dwelling at a rental price mutually agreeable between landlord and tenant.
For the purpose of this section, a "vacancy" shall be defined as a voluntary termination of the tenancy by the tenant or an eviction pursuant to the effective provisions of the laws of the State of New Jersey dealing with landlords and tenants. The existence of such vacancy shall be determined in any case by a court of competent jurisdiction. A cooperative proprietary lease shall not be construed as a lease for purposes of this section.
Once a new rental is established as provided above, said dwelling unit shall, in all respects, be subject to the rent leveling ordinances of the Borough of Fort Lee, including but not limited to the provisions of § 324-14 hereof.
Notwithstanding anything contained herein to the contrary, any landlord of a single-family, condominium or cooperative rental unit establishing a new rental pursuant to the provisions of this section or any other section of this chapter shall, within 60 days from the date of commencement of any such new rental, register said new rental and tenant with the Rent Leveling Board, on forms promulgated by the Rent Leveling Board, in order to qualify for such new rental.
In the event that the only violation of a landlord otherwise entitled to vacancy decontrol is the failure to register the unit for vacancy decontrol pursuant to this section, the landlord shall be subject to a penalty equal to 25% of the difference between the decontrolled rent charged and the maximum allowable controlled amount for the unit, from the commencement of the tenancy until such time as the landlord's vacancy decontrol registration form is filed with the Rent Leveling Board, but not to exceed $5,000. Regardless of the date on which the tenancy commenced, however, the penalty provided in this subsection for a first offense shall not be assessed for any period greater than three years from the date of the filing of the complaint.
For second and subsequent violations of this section, a landlord shall be subject to a penalty equal to 75% of the difference between the decontrolled rent charged and the maximum allowable controlled amount for the unit until such time as the landlord's vacancy decontrol registration form is filed with the Rent Leveling Board.
Any penalties which may be imposed by the Rent Leveling Board under this section shall be paid to the tenant within 20 days of the landlord's receipt of the Rent Leveling Board's decision unless there is an appeal to the Mayor and Council. In the event there is an appeal to the Mayor and Council, such payment shall be made within 10 days of the decision of the Mayor and Council. In the event the penalty is not paid in full within the times prescribed herein, the tenant shall be permitted to undertake any action to enforce the Rent Leveling Board's decision.
The Rent Leveling Board shall accept a landlord's late filing of a vacancy decontrol registration form as of the month following the date of the filing of a complaint or as of the date the late registration was received by the Rent Leveling Board, whichever is earlier. Thereafter, the landlord shall be entitled to charge the decontrolled rental amount pursuant to the registration, plus allowable annual increases, if applicable.
The penalty provisions provided in this section shall be applicable to complaints filed on or after the effective date of this section.
All landlords in the Borough of Fort Lee, whether or not entitled to vacancy decontrol, establishing a new rental pursuant to this chapter shall, within 60 days from the date of such new rental, register the new rental and tenant with the Rent Leveling Board on forms to be promulgated by the Rent Leveling Board.
In the event that any tenant residing in a building or complex not subject to limited vacancy decontrol, as set forth herein, vacates an apartment for another apartment in the same building or complex, by agreement with the landlord, the base rent of the apartment to be occupied cannot be increased by more than 15% of the base rent.
Nothing herein shall be construed as preventing a landlord and a tenant from entering into a lease for a period in excess of one year. A multiple-year lease may provide for an increase in a subsequent calendar year; provided, however, that any subsequent rental increases shall not exceed the MAP for the subsequent calendar year for which an increase is provided.
[Amended 6-22-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-27]
The MAP for any calendar year commencing after the effective date hereof shall be promulgated in the following manner. Not later than September 20, the Tax Assessor shall certify to the Board the amount of any judgment of the Bergen County Board of Taxation reducing the assessment of any dwelling for the current year. Not later than September 30, the Rent Leveling Board shall promulgate the OCA, UA (if applicable), PYC and MAP for each dwelling for the forthcoming calendar year.
The provisions of § 324-11 are hereby declared to be solely for furthering the orderly administration of this chapter and shall not be construed as affecting or conditioning any rights or duties of landlords or tenants hereunder.
Any landlord seeking a rent increase shall notify the tenant by certified mail and the Rent Leveling Board of the calculations involved in computing the increase, including the base rent and the calculations involved in computing the OCA, UA (if applicable), TA, PYC, MAP. In furtherance of this section, the Rent Leveling Board may, by rule or regulation, prescribe a form or forms to be employed by the landlord in complying with the provisions hereof.
Every landlord shall register with the Rent Board and provide the following information:
Failure of any landlord to register in accordance with the provisions of this section at least six months prior to seeking relief under this chapter shall preclude the landlord from obtaining any such relief.
If Articles II through VI shall, for any reason, be adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, then the establishment of rents between a landlord and a tenant shall be determined by the provisions of this section. At the expiration of a lease or at the termination of the lease of a tenant, no landlord may request or receive a percentage increase in rent for any housing space which is greater than the percentage difference between the index three months prior to the expiration or termination of the lease and the index at the date the last previous lease term commenced. For a periodic tenant whose lease term shall be less than one year, said tenant shall not suffer or be caused to pay any rent increase in any calendar year which exceeds the average index percentage differential for the calendar year prior thereto.