Sunday, April 21, 2024

Blairstown Seeks New Registration Requirements for Rentals

The Blairstown Township Committee held a first reading of a new ordinance drafted by Township Attorney Kevin Benbrook, regarding business insurance and lead safety certifications required for rental properties, at a meeting on February 22nd.

Ordinance 2023-05, “Registration of Rental Properties and Businesses,” pushes all burdens onto property owners. Here’s a heads up for landlords.

In Blairstown, it is required that any owner of a business and/or owner or a rental property register with the township to show proof of insurance and compliance with state standards. Property owners must secure liability insurance from their business tenant and provide landlord insurance for residential units.

Registrations will expire yearly and require renewals no later than December 1st of each year. Violators could be charged up to $5,000 for failing to apply in time.

Last year, the New Jersey state legislature passed new lead paint laws to ensure the removal of the harmful toxin from all properties and to prevent new cases of lead poisoning.

Ordinance 2023-05 corresponds with these new laws and calls for residential properties built prior to 1978 to submit a lead-safe certificate along with the Residential Rental Registration Form. Both forms must be submitted to the township clerk 30 days after tenant turnover or by July 22, 2024— whichever comes first. A $20 fee per unit is required with each initial and renewal certification.

The burden of responsibility falls on the landlord to hire a certified lead evaluation contractor who can perform an inspection of the property and produce a lead-safe certificate.

At the meeting, Deputy Mayor Walter Orcutt suggested an additional fee to be instated for the registering of residential rental properties, since the mere registration of such units will be a burden on the township.

“It should be $100 per unit at least.”

Benbrook explained his reasoning for holding off on an additional fee.

“The other thing I wanted to point out, is it’s going to be an expense on the landlord for the lead-safe certification. So that’s the other reason why I didn’t really go overboard with the fee to us because they’re gonna spend several hundreds of dollars for the inspector to get that certification.”

If a landlord fails to provide a lead-safe certificate, according to Benbrook, “This ordinance does include a provision that if they don’t meet [ordinance requirements] and we find out about that, then it does fall back to us as municipality. We would have to get some form of a third-party inspector.”

In this case, the landlord will be charged an additional fee to cover the township’s cost of hiring. If this fee is ignored, the township will alert the tax collector and the fee will be certified as a tax lien on the property.

According to the ordinance, any lead paint remediation costs fall on the property owner. If all traces of lead paint are not removed within 30 days of violation a penalty of no more than $1,000 per week will be charged.

The township committee will decide if additional fees will be added, and if so, the exact amount at next month’s meeting when residents will be given the opportunity to offer input.

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Alex Tironi, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

A recent graduate of George Mason University in Virginia, Alex pursued a degree in journalism with a double minor in American Sign Language and nonprofit studies. She worked as assistant news editor to the Fourth Estate, the university newspaper where she reported on many things but mostly focused on campus crime and PD activity. While working for a nonprofit called the Borgen Project, she wrote about global health and poverty in third-world nations. Alex recently finished an internship writing and editing for a business consulting company in NY. Growing up in the area, she has always been active in her community and brings the same intention as a contributing writer for the Ridge View Echo.