Tuesday, July 16, 2024

No New Fees and Other Rules for Blairstown Landlords

The Blairstown Township Committee (BTC) passed Ordinance 2023-05, creating new insurance and lead paint requirements for rental properties, at a meeting on March 22nd. This ordinance comes in compliance with new New Jersey state requirements.

Last month, the BTC introduced this ordinance to the township explaining that businesses and owners of single, multiple, or multi-family rental properties must provide proof of insurance when registering with the town. Township Clerk, Kristin Shipps will accept these registration applications. Registration of the property requires a $20 state fee, renewed annually.

This ordinance details new lead paint inspection requirements. In 1978, lead-based paint was banned by the U.S. government; therefore, if a rental property was constructed prior to 1978 it must be tested for lead paint.

Landlords are responsible for hiring a certified lead inspector and for removal if lead paint is found. According to Township Attorney, Kevin Benbrook, these inspections cost around $300 to $350. Lead-safe certificates need to be renewed every two years through inspection.

Benbrook explained why, “the two year reserve was because if you do have a home that has lead you don’t necessarily have to remove it, you can encapsulate it. In that instance [the state] wants to check every two years to make sure it’s not chipping off.”

Blairstown resident Nancy Drexler voiced her questions regarding the ordinance during the public hearing portion. Drexler owns a duplex, living in one side and renting out the other to a long-term tenant. Her home was built back in the 1800s but has been entirely renovated.

She asked the BTC, “What am I supposed to do?”

Benbrook explained that in multi-dwelling units, the unit occupied by the landlord does not need to be inspected for lead paint. Only if a tenant is actively occupying the unit will it need to be tested for lead paint.

“So, you would just hire one of those [certified lead] inspectors. If it’s been renovated and all the paint has been removed, hopefully, you’re fine. You get the lead-safe certification, and you just file that with us.”

There are some circumstances that could exempt a property built before 1978 from inspection:

– If the rental unit is seasonal, renting for less than a six months duration each year, without consecutive lease renewals

– Dwelling units that have already been certified to be free of lead-based paint through compliance with NJ’s Lead Hazard Evaluation and Abatement Code

– Multiple dwelling units currently registered with the Department of Community Affairs for at least 10 years without any outstanding violations from the most recent cyclical inspections

Committee member Debra Waldron asked who was responsible for enforcing these new regulations.

“There’s no great answer for the enforcement issue, we obviously don’t know every business in town, especially small rental units or private property, it’s just going to be impossible,” Benbrook stated.

He continued, “We would kind of just get the word out there and hopefully, get voluntary compliance.”

At a previous township committee meeting, when the Ordinance 2023-05 was introduced, the BTC contemplated adding an additional fee for landlords to register with the town but ultimately chose not to.

“There is no fee to the township,” announced Benbrook.

“Blairstown Twp. Committee 2023” L-R: Committeewoman Debra Waldron, Committeeman Charles Makatura, Mayor Rob Moorhead, Deputy Mayor Walter Orcutt, Committeewoman Karen Lance. Photo Credit: A. Tironi, 3/22/23

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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.