Township of Cedar Grove, NJ
Essex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Cedar Grove as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Housing standards — See Ch. 158.
Public health nuisances — See Ch. 179.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 197.
Residential property maintenance — See Ch. 198.
STATUTORY AUTHORITY
General police powers — See N.J.S.A. 40:69A-29.
[Adopted 2-19-1973 by Ord. No. 73-1, Ch. 11A, Art. I, of the former Revised Ordinances, as amended 12-16-1974 by Ord. No. 73-1(a); 1-20-1975 by Ord. No. 73-1(b); 12-1-1975 by Ord. No. 73-1(c); amended in its entirety 12-6-1976 by Ord. No 76-27]
As used in this chapter, 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 Essex and Township of Cedar Grove, and occupied or unoccupied and offered for rent.
DWELLING
Includes any building or structure rented or offered for rent to one or more tenants or family units. Housing units newly constructed and rented for the first time are exempted, and the initial rent may be determined by the landlord. All subsequent rents will be subject to the provisions of this chapter. Single-family homes and owner-occupied two-family dwellings are exempted from this chapter.
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.
[Amended 3-3-1980 by Ord. No. 80-126; 12-15-1986 by Ord No. 86-285; 4-19-1999 by Ord. No. 99-513]
A. 
Establishment of rents between a landlord and a tenant to whom this chapter is applicable shall hereafter be determined by the provisions of this chapter. No landlord shall be entitled to request or receive an increase in rental payments from a tenant, with or without a lease, more often than once in 12 calendar months.
B. 
At the expiration of a lease or a periodic tenancy, such as a month-to-month tenancy, no landlord shall request or receive a percentage increase in rent which is greater than the consumer price index plus .5%, United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics for all urban consumers, all items, for the Northeastern New Jersey, and Long Island area published for the three month period ending on September 30 of the year preceding the calendar year in which such increase shall be effective.
C. 
Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, if a housing space is voluntarily vacated by a tenant, the landlord may increase the rent thereon without restriction in amount. Upon re-renting the unit, the restriction set forth in this section shall apply to all future rent increases to the tenant, and no additional rental increase shall be imposed upon such tenant until at least 12 months have passed.
D. 
In no event shall any increase exceed 5.5% of the previous base rent in any 12 month period.
[Amended 3-3-1980 by Ord. No. 80-126; 12-15-1986 by Ord. No. 86-285]
Any rental increase at a time other than at the expiration of a lease or termination of a periodic lease shall be void. Any rental increase in excess of that authorized by the provisions of this chapter shall be void.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 208-2.1, Fuel surcharge, added 3-3-1980 by Ord. No. 80-126, was repealed 12-15-1986 by Ord. No. 86-285.
[Amended 3-3-1980 by Ord. No. 80-126; 12-15-1986 by Ord. No. 86-285]
Any landlord seeking an increase in rent shall notify the tenant by certified mail at least 60 days prior to the effective date thereof (30 days' prior notice for a month-to-month tenant) of the intended increase, the effective date thereof and the manner of computation of said increase.
[Amended 12-6-1976 by Ord. No. 76-27(a); 12-15-1986 by Ord. No. 86-285]
Any tax surcharge properly charged to a tenant prior to November 1, 1986, in accordance with municipal ordinances in effect at that time shall henceforth be deemed to be rent for all purposes, including computation of future increases in accordance with the terms of this chapter.
[Amended 11-5-1984 by Ord. No. 84-231; 4-19-1999 by Ord. No. 99-513]
The landlord may seek additional rental for major capital improvements. The landlord seeking a capital improvement surcharge shall appeal for said surcharge to the Board, who shall determine if said improvement is a major capital improvement as provided by this chapter and, if so, shall allow and direct the manner in which the increase shall take place. At least 10 days before the hearing by the Board, the landlord must notify each tenant by certified mail of the nature and total actual cost of each of the completed capital improvements for which a surcharge is sought, the number of years of useful life of the improvements as claimed by the landlord to represent the actual useful life of the improvement, the total number of rooms of the dwelling or garden apartment complex, the total number of rooms occupied by the tenant, the capital improvement surcharge sought from the tenant, the manner in which the tenant's surcharge was computed and the date such matter is to be heard by the Board. Such notice shall be effective upon mailing. In order to qualify as a major capital improvement, the improvement must provide a new and additional benefit to the tenants which improves their housing accommodations in a substantial way and be one that is not already required by law or lease. Normal upkeep, maintenance, repair and replacements shall not be deemed major capital improvements for the purposes of this chapter. Replacement of a heating system with another type of heating system shall not be considered a major capital improvement for the purposes of this chapter. In the event that the Board grants the surcharge, the actual cost of a major capital improvement may be recovered by a landlord over the actual useful life, as opposed to the depreciable life, of the improvement in equal monthly installments proportioned fairly among the tenants in a manner approved by the Board. If said increase is granted, it shall not be considered rental and calculated in cost of living increases. In any event, no increase authorized by this section shall exceed 15% of the tenant's rent.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 208-6, Notification of tenant of intent to impose tax surcharge, as amended; § 208-7, Method of payment of tax surcharge, as amended; § 208-8, Surcharge not considered increase in rent; and § 208-9, Rebate to tenant of portion of tax surcharge upon successful tax appeal, were repealed 12-15-1986 by Ord. No. 86-285, which also renumbered former §§ 208-10 through 208-18 as §§ 208-6 through 208.14, respectively.
[Amended 5-16-1977 by Ord. No. 77-46; 10-5-1992 by Ord No. 92-404]
A. 
There is hereby created a Rent Leveling Board within the Township of Cedar Grove. Said Board shall consist of five members.
B. 
The Township Council may, upon the adoption of a resolution, appoint itself as the Rent Leveling Board.
C. 
In the alternative, the Township Council may appoint a separate Rent Leveling Board. Such a Board shall be established upon the adoption of a resolution appointing the initial members to that Board. The initial term of members shall be staggered so that the terms of three members of the Board end on December 31 following the establishment of such Board and two members' terms shall end one year later. Thereafter, as the term of each member expires, a successor shall be appointed for a term of two calendar years. In the event of a resignation of any member of such Rent Leveling Board or upon death, inability to serve or absence from 50% or more of the regularly scheduled meetings of the Board in any twelve-month period, in which latter event removal shall be automatic, the Township Council shall fill said vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term.
D. 
The Rent Leveling Board existing pursuant to ordinances established prior to the adoption of this section is hereby dissolved.
A. 
The Rent Leveling Board is hereby granted and shall have and exercise, in addition to other powers herein granted, all the powers necessary and appropriate to carry out and execute the purposes of this chapter, including but not limited to the following:
(1) 
To issue and promulgate such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter, which rules and regulations shall have the force of law until revised, repealed or amended from time to time by the Board in the exercise of its discretion, provided that such rules are filed with the Township Clerk.
(2) 
To supply information and assistance to landlords and tenants to help them comply with the provisions of this chapter.
(3) 
To hold hearings and adjudicate applications from landlords for additional rental as hereinafter provided.
(4) 
To hold hearings and adjudicate complaints or petitions from tenants seeking rent reductions where landlords have collected or sought to collect rents in violation of this chapter. Said Board shall give both landlord and tenant reasonable opportunity to be heard before making any determination.
(5) 
To perform such other functions in an advisory capacity as the Township Council may direct by resolution, which may include, without limitation, holding of hearings and making recommendations concerning the modifications, supplementation or repeal of any provisions of this chapter.
[Added 3-3-1980 by Ord. No. 80-126]
B. 
All decisions of the Rent Board shall be rendered within 35 days or at the next public meeting of the Rent Board, whichever may first occur after the final presentation of all evidence or other submissions by the parties and shall be in writing and signed by the Secretary of the Rent Board. The favorable vote of a majority of the members of the Board is required for a final determination.
[Added 10-5-1992 by Ord. No. 92-404]
The following procedures shall apply to hearings for relief before the Rent Leveling Board:
A. 
A landlord or tenant seeking relief from the Rent Leveling Board shall petition the Board on forms approved by the Board. The petition shall contain the name and address of the petitioner, the address of the property in question, the type of relief being requested and any other information deemed pertinent by the Rent Leveling Board.
B. 
In order to invoke the jurisdiction of the Board, eight copies of the petition, together with eight copies of a written statement of reasons and facts supporting the application, shall be filed with the Township Clerk. Along with the petition and statement of reasons, the petitioner shall pay a filing fee of $10.
C. 
Within 10 days after the date of the filing of the petition, the petitioner shall cause to be served upon the party or parties against which relief is sought a copy of the petition and the statement of reasons by personal service or by certified mail, return receipt requested, which latter service shall be effective upon mailing.
D. 
At least 10 days before any scheduled hearing, the Township Clerk shall cause to be served upon the parties written notice of the hearing which shall be sent by regular mail. In addition, at least 10 days before the hearing, the Township Clerk shall cause notice of the hearing to be published in an official newspaper of the municipality.
E. 
In the event that a petition seeks relief against tenants in a complex generally, such as in applications where landlords seek additional rental, notwithstanding the provisions for personal service of the petition and notice upon the parties named in the petition, the requirements of personal service shall not apply, and substituted service may be made in place of such personal service. Such substituted service shall be made by posting a copy of the petition and statement of reasons in a prominent place in each building in the complex within 10 days after the filing of the petition. In a petition where no particular respondent is named, the notice of hearing mailed to the petitioner by the Township Clerk shall likewise be posted in a prominent place in each building by the petitioner at least seven days prior to the date of the hearing. An affidavit attesting to the posting of the petition and statement of reasons as well as the notice of hearing shall be submitted by the petitioner to the Board prior to hearing.
F. 
Upon receipt of the appropriate number of petitions and payment of the filing fee, the Township Clerk shall circulate five copies of the petition and statement of reasons to the members of the Rent Leveling Board.
G. 
The Rent Leveling Board shall hold a hearing on each petition it receives. The Board shall make the rules governing such hearings.
H. 
The officer presiding at the hearing or such person as he or she may designate shall have power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant evidence, including witnesses and documents presented by the parties pursuant to the County and Municipal Investigations Law (N.J.S.A. 2A:67A-1 et seq.).
I. 
The testimony of all witnesses relating to a petition shall be taken under oath or affirmation, and the right of cross-examination shall be permitted to all interested parties through their attorneys, if represented, or directly, if not represented, subject to the discretion of the presiding officer and to reasonable limitations as to time and number of witnesses.
J. 
Technical rules of evidence shall not be applicable to the hearing, but the Board may exclude irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence.
K. 
The Board shall provide for a verbatim record of the proceedings. If recorded, the Board shall provide a duplicate recording of the proceedings to any interested party on request at the expense of the party requesting the recording.
L. 
Each decision of the Board shall include findings of fact and conclusions based thereon. The decision shall be reduced to writing and be voted upon by the Board.
M. 
A copy of each decision shall be mailed by the Board, within 10 days of the date of the adoption of the written decision, to the petitioner or, if represented, then to his or her attorney. A copy of the decision shall also be filed by the Board with the Township Clerk. Notice of the decision shall be published by the Township Clerk.
A. 
Both landlord and tenant may appeal the findings and determination of the Board to the Municipal Council within 20 days from the date of said determination and request a hearing thereon before the Township Council. In the event that no appeal is taken from the Board's determination as provided, the decision of the Rent Board shall be final, and any violation thereof or failure to comply with said decision may be presented by the Rent Leveling Board or the aggrieved party to the Cedar Grove Municipal Court for enforcement or imposition of sanctions.
B. 
This section shall only be applicable when the Township Council appoints a separate Rent Leveling Board. In the event that an appeal is taken to the Township Council from a determination of the Board, the appeal shall be decided by the Township Council only upon the record established before the Board. On such appeal, the Township Council may affirm, reverse, remand or modify the decision of the Board.
[Added 10-5-1993 by Ord. No. 92-404]
A. 
During the term of this chapter, the landlord shall maintain the same standards of service, maintenance, furniture, furnishings and equipment in the housing space and dwelling as he or she provided or was required to do by law or lease at the date the lease was entered into.
B. 
In the event that a claimed violation of this section can be argued by a tenant to constitute an effective rent increase, the matter may be brought before the Rent Leveling Board pursuant to § 208-8A(4). Otherwise, a violation of this section which is brought to the attention of the Board may be referred to the appropriate municipal enforcement official under the Property Maintenance Code, Health Code or other state or municipal regulation which may be applicable under the circumstances. Additionally, any person aggrieved by the action or inaction of the landlord subject to the provisions of this section may bring an alleged violation of this section before the Municipal Court.
[Added 10-5-1992 by Ord. No. 92-404]
No landlord shall, after the effective date of this chapter, charge any rents in excess of what he or she was receiving from the effective date of this chapter, except for increases as authorized by this chapter.
The owner of housing space or a dwelling being rented for the first time shall not be restricted in the initial rent he or she charges. Any subsequent rental increases, however, shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter.
A. 
Willful violation of any provision of this chapter, including but not limited to the willful misrepresentation of fact to the Rent Leveling Board and any refusal or failure to comply with a final order or determination of the Rent Leveling Board or other appellate forum, shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment of not more than 90 days, or both. A violation affecting more than one leasehold shall be considered a separate violation as to each leasehold.
[Amended 10-23-2006 by Ord. No. 06-656]
B. 
This chapter shall be enforceable by any aggrieved party before the Municipal Court of the Township of Cedar Grove.
[Added 10-5-1992 by Ord. No. 92-404]
This chapter, being necessary for the welfare of the Township and its inhabitants, shall be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes thereof.
[Adopted 3-21-2011 by Ord. No. 11-723]
It is hereby found by the Township Council of the Township of Cedar Grove that there exist landlords who lease residential units to unrelated persons who engage in conduct which constitutes breaches of the peace, and violations of property maintenance standards. Such conduct has a negative effect on occupants of other rental units and nearby structures, impacts the quality of life of the neighborhood and may devalue the surrounding property. As landlords control both the selection of tenants and their eviction for cause, the Township Council of the Township of Cedar Grove hereby finds that landlords can best remedy these conditions.
It is the purpose of this article to create a uniform system for the registration of single-family rental properties and multifamily rental properties. While registration and licensing of rental units is authorized pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12c and 40:52-1d, revocation of licenses and the penalties provided for herein are necessary. It is a further purpose of the article to exercise the municipal police power implicit in the New Jersey Constitution and granted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2 and, inter alia, to promote the welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
DWELLING(S) (also referred to as UNITS, RENTAL UNITS OR RESIDENTIAL UNITS)
Includes any building or structure rented or offered to one or more tenants or family units.
LICENSE
Collectively, the licenses issued to the owner of either a single-family rental property or multifamily rental property pursuant to this article. Each dwelling unit and multifamily rental property shall be separately licensed pursuant to the provisions of this article.
MULTIFAMILY RENTAL PROPERTY
Any structure containing two or more units available for rent, whether occupied or not.
OWNER
The fee owner of any single-family rental property or multifamily rental property whether individual, corporation, partnership, trust, limited liability company or other business entity. For the purpose of this article, owner shall also include all corporate officers, partners, trustees, trust beneficiaries, members of LLCs or others with a control interest in an owner no matter the form.
POST/POSTING
The requirement to permanently affix information required to be made known to tenants at rental properties regulated by this article.
QUALITY-OF-LIFE VIOLATION
A violation of any Township ordinance or any other federal, state or local law arising from or incidental to the condition of the rental unit or the land upon which the rental unit is situated, including, without limitation, violations of Chapters 179, 197, and 198 of the Code of the Township of Cedar Grove, and convictions related to disorderly, indecent, tumultuous or riotous conduct occurring during any one twelve-month period, by the fee owner, licensee's guest(s), tenant(s), or other occupant(s) of a rental unit.
SINGLE-FAMILY RENTAL PROPERTY
Any single-family structure held out for rental, whether occupied or not.
A. 
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:52-1d, commencing September 1, 2011, and annually on September 1 of each succeeding year, owners of all multifamily rental properties shall register same with the Township Clerk. Annually at the time of registration, a registration fee of $100 shall be paid to the Township Clerk. Such registration shall be on forms provided by the Township Clerk, or by electronic means at such time as a computerized system becomes available. Required information shall generally include the following information which will be required in greater detail on forms issued by the Clerk:
(1) 
Premises address, and tax block and lot number.
(2) 
Owner contact information.
(3) 
If the owner is a corporation, officer contact information.
(4) 
If the owner is a limited liability company, member contact information.
(5) 
If the owner is a partnership, partner contact information.
(6) 
Resident management agent contact information.
(7) 
Rental agent and other agent contact information.
(8) 
Number of persons permitted to occupy each unit pursuant to Chapter 208 Article I, of the General Code of the Township of Cedar Grove.
(9) 
Unit descriptions, including room sizes, number of bathrooms and the like.
(10) 
Summary description regarding leases and tenants, including lease terms, names of tenants and the like.
(11) 
Names and address of all mortgages of record.
(12) 
Contact information of any on-site superintendent.
(13) 
Emergency contact information.
(14) 
If heated by fuel oil, contact information for the oil supplier.
B. 
Owners shall amend the filing required by this section within seven days of an occurrence affecting the required information and shall annually, on July 1 of each year, update the information required by this section. Compliance with this section shall also constitute compliance with the requirements of N.J.S.A. 46:8 to 27 and registration for the purposes of Chapter 208, Article I, Rent Control, of the Code of the Township of Cedar Grove.
A. 
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:52-1d, commencing September 1, 2011, and annually on September 1 of each succeeding year, owners of single-family rental properties shall register same with the Township Clerk. Annually, at the time of registration, a registration fee of $50 shall be paid to the Township Clerk. Such registration shall be on forms provided by the Township Clerk, or by electronic means at such time as a computerized system becomes available. Required information shall include:
(1) 
Premises address, and tax block and lot number.
(2) 
Owner contact information.
(3) 
If the owner is a corporation, officer contact information.
(4) 
If the owner is a limited liability company, member contact information.
(5) 
If the owner is a partnership, partner contact information.
(6) 
Unit descriptions, including room sizes, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the like.
(7) 
Summary information regarding leases and tenants, including lease terms and names of tenants and permanent addresses.
(8) 
Emergency contact information.
(9) 
If heated by fuel oil, contact information for the oil supplier.
B. 
Owners shall amend the filing required by this section within seven days of an occurrence affecting the required information and shall annually, on July 1 of each year, update the information required by this section.
Upon filing of a completed registration form and the payment of the registration fee, the Township Clerk shall issue a license or renewal to the owner. In the case of a multifamily rental property, the Township Clerk shall issue a single license certificate whereon shall be listed all dwelling units contained in that property. Each dwelling so listed shall be deemed separately licensed.
Failure to register, to amend a registration when so required, or the permitting of repeated violations pursuant to § 208-23 shall be a violation of this article. Each such violation shall constitute a separate offense, each punishable by a fine of not less than $50. Continued rental of a dwelling, after revocation or suspension of a license, shall constitute a separate offense punishable upon conviction in the municipal court of a fine of not less than $500 for each day such unit was rented without a license.
No owner shall knowingly permit a tenant to remain in occupancy of a dwelling unit who, or whose guests, commit repeated quality-of-life violations.
On each occasion that a tenant in a multifamily rental property or a single-family rental property, or such tenant's guest, commits a quality-of-life violation, the Chief of Police shall cause notice of such violation to be sent to the owner or registered agent via certified mail. Upon the occurrence and notice of two quality-of-life violations by one or more tenants or his/her/their guests, with respect to any dwelling unit within any twelve-month period, the appropriate law enforcement official may cause a complaint to be filed in the Municipal Court and/or to conduct a public hearing, on notice to the owner, why the license to operate a rental property should not be revoked or suspended. In a multifamily rental property, license revocation may only be imposed upon the dwelling unit associated with the subject quality-of-life violation.
The Chief of Police shall be charged with the duty of enforcing the provisions of this article.
A. 
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12c, every owner of a multifamily rental property who does not reside in the Township of Cedar Grove shall designate an agent with authority to act in the absence of the owner with respect to such property, and which agent shall be a resident of the Township of Cedar Grove.
B. 
Owners shall post both a copy of the most current license and the names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of all persons available in the event of an emergency. Owners of multifamily rental properties shall also include such information for resident agents.