The Newark Municipal Council has accepted on first reading an ordinance to strengthen protections for Newark tenants. The ordinance introduced on Tuesday will protect all those renting apartments in Newark by requiring comprehensive code enforcement inspections of units prior to a change in occupancy.
The ordinance protects residents and ensures they will be able to live in safe and clean living conditions by requiring landlords to secure a certificate of Code Compliance from the Newark Office of Inspections and Enforcement upon changes in tenants and by requiring agencies providing rental vouchers, rental subsidies or rental grants to conduct inspections before recipients accept an apartment. Landlords will be required to register their apartments with the City before being issued a certificate of Code Compliance certificate certifying that the apartment has been brought up to code. This is a critical component of the city’s larger comprehensive plan to improve the quality of life of all Newark residents.
“Many tenants in Newark rent substandard apartments due to the failure of landlords to maintain their properties after receiving an initial Certificate of Occupancy,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Under this ordinance, before a rental unit can change hands, the landlord must have it inspected by the City, brought up to a decent condition, and registered with the City to assure future compliance with our codes. The City of Newark has a zero tolerance for slumlords, and this ordinance will prevent landlords from continuing to rent apartments that are unclean, unsafe, and in a deteriorated condition.”
Inspection of rental units by the City must be conducted within 10 days of receipt of the application from the landlord. If a landlord rents an apartment in violation of the ordinance, and that unit is later found to be in substandard condition, that rental is deemed to be illegal and the landlord will be required to pay the cost of relocation and six months’ rent at the tenant’s new location. For housing paid for by a rental voucher, rental subsidy or rental grant, the agency providing the subsidy must inspect the unit in addition to Newark’s inspection and certify that it is habitable and safe. A report must be provided to the Newark Office of Inspections and Enforcement detailing the nature and length of the rental assistance, the name of the landlord and the tenants with their contact information, and a copy of the application for the Certificate of Code Compliance. The outside agency must provide a plan of action to provide rental assistance beyond the current tenancy in order to avoid homelessness of the tenant and must pay rents monthly rather than an entire year’s rent in advance to allow tenants to deposit the outstanding rent money into a Court escrow account until the landlord repairs the unit if the landlord fails to maintain the unit.
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