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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2A:18-61.1e. Rights of former tenants

2A:18-61.1e.   Rights of former tenants     6.     If a dwelling unit becomes vacated after notice has been given that the owner seeks to permanently board up or demolish the premises or seeks to retire permanently the premises from residential use pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection g. or subsection h. of section 2 of P.L.1974, c.49 (C.2A:18-61.1) and if at any time thereafter an owner instead seeks to return the premises to residential use, the owner shall provide the former tenant: 

  a.     Written notice 90 days in advance of any return to residential use or any agreement for possession of the unit by any other party, which notice discloses the owner's intention to return the unit to residential use and all appropriate specifics; 

  b.     The right to return to possession of the vacated unit or, if return is not available, the right to possession of affordable housing relocation in accord with the standards and criteria set forth for comparable housing as defined by section 4 of P.L.1975, c.311 (C.2A:18-61.7); and 

  c.     In the case of a conversion, the right to a protected tenancy pursuant to the "Senior Citizens and Disabled Protected Tenancy Act," P.L.1981, c.226 (C.2A:18-61.22 et seq.), or pursuant to the "Tenant Protection Act of 1992," P.L.1991, c.509 (C.2A:18-61.40 et al.), if the former tenant would have at the time of the conversion been eligible for a protected tenancy under either of those acts, had the former tenant not vacated the premises. 

  The 90-day notice shall disclose the tenant's rights pursuant to this section and the method for the tenant's response to exercise these rights. A duplicate of the notice shall be transmitted within the first five days of the 90-day period to the rent board in the municipality or the municipal clerk, if there is no board. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection c. of section 3 of P.L.1975, c.311 (C.2A:18-61.6), damages awarded shall not be trebled where possession has been returned in accord with this section; nor shall any damages be awarded as provided for in subsection e. of section 3 of P.L.1975, c.311 (C.2A:18-61.6).  An owner who fails to provide a former tenant a notice of intention to return to residential use pursuant to this section is liable to a civil penalty of not less than $2,500.00 or more than $10,000.00 for each offense, and shall also be liable in treble damages, plus attorney fees and costs of suit, for any loss or expenses incurred by a former tenant as a result of that failure.  The penalty prescribed in this section shall be collected and enforced by summary proceedings pursuant to "the penalty enforcement law" (N.J.S.2A:58-1 et seq.).  The Superior Court, Law Division, Special Civil Part, in the county in which the rental premises are located shall have jurisdiction over such proceedings.  Process shall be in the nature of a summons or warrant, shall issue upon the complaint of the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, the Attorney General, or any other person.  No owner shall be liable for a penalty pursuant to this section if the unit is returned to residential use more than five years after the date the premises are vacated or if the owner made every reasonable effort to locate the former tenant and provide the notice, including, but not limited to, the employment of a qualified professional locator service, where no return receipt is obtained from the former tenant. 

  In any action under this section the court shall, in addition to damages, award any other appropriate legal or equitable relief. 

  L.1986,c.138,s.6; amended 1991,c.509,s.20.  
2A:18-61.1f. Local ordinances permitted     Nothing contained in this 1986 amendatory and supplementary act shall authorize any civil action to require that dwelling units remain vacant, shall limit any defense or challenge to evictions that is otherwise provided by law or shall prohibit any provision of a local ordinance which is not less restrictive, except as prohibited pursuant to subsection e. of section 3 of P.L. 1975, c. 311 (C.2A:18-61.6).  Except as provided in subsection e. of section 3 of  P.L. 1975, c. 311 (C.2A:18-61.6), local ordinances may facilitate the objectives of this 1986 amendatory and supplementary act pertaining to premises where tenants have received notice pursuant to subsection g.(1) or h. of section 2 of P.L.1974, c.49 (C.2A:18-61.1), including, but not limited to, any ordinance intended to: a.  Require owners to obtain and register tenants' current and forwarding addresses;

   b.   Provide to tenants and former tenants who have received notice of termination pursuant to subsection g.(1) or h. of section 2 of P.L. 1974, c. 49 (C. 2A:18-61.1) basic information on their relevant rights;

   c.   Provide a municipal registry for former tenants to file current addresses for receiving notice; and

   d.   Assist in locating former tenants who become entitled to receive notice pursuant to section 6 of this 1986 amendatory and supplementary act.

   L. 1986, c. 138, s. 8, eff. Oct. 29, 1986. 
2A:18-61.1g  Relocation of displaced tenant; violations, penalty.
3. a. A municipality may enact an ordinance providing that any tenant who receives a notice of eviction pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1974, c.49 (C.2A:18-61.2) that results from zoning or code enforcement activity for an illegal occupancy, as set forth in paragraph (3) of subsection g. of section 2 of P.L.1974, c.49 (C.2A:18-61.1), shall be considered a displaced person and shall be entitled to relocation assistance in an amount equal to six times the monthly rental paid by the displaced person.  The owner-landlord of the structure shall be liable for the payment of relocation assistance pursuant to this section.

b.A municipality that has enacted an ordinance pursuant to subsection a. of this section may pay relocation assistance to any displaced person who has not received the required payment from the owner-landlord of the structure at the time of eviction pursuant to subsection a. of this section from a revolving relocation assistance fund established pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1987, c.98 (C.20:4-4.1a). All relocation assistance costs incurred by a municipality pursuant to this subsection shall be repaid by the owner-landlord of the structure to the municipality in the same manner as relocation costs are billed and collected under section 1 of P.L.1983, c.536 (C.20:4-4.1) and section 1 of P.L.1984, c.30 (C.20:4-4.2).  These repayments shall be deposited into the municipality's revolving relocation assistance fund.

c.A municipality that has enacted an ordinance pursuant to subsection a. of this section, in addition to requiring reimbursement from the owner-landlord of the structure for relocation assistance paid to a displaced tenant, may require that an additional fine for zoning or housing code violation for an illegal occupancy, up to an amount equal to six times the monthly rental paid by the displaced person, be paid to the municipality by the owner-landlord of the structure. 

In addition to this penalty, a municipality, after affording the owner-landlord an opportunity for a hearing on the matter, may impose upon the owner-landlord, for a second or subsequent violation for an illegal occupancy, a fine equal to the annual tuition cost of any resident of the illegally occupied unit attending a public school, which fine shall be recovered in a civil action by a summary proceeding in the name of the municipality pursuant to "The Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).  The municipal court and the Superior Court shall have jurisdiction of proceedings for the enforcement of the penalty provided by this section.  The tuition cost shall be determined in the manner prescribed for nonresident pupils pursuant to N.J.S.18A:38-19 and the payment of the fine shall be remitted to the appropriate school district.

d.For the purposes of this section, the owner-landlord of a structure shall exclude mortgagees in possession of a structure through foreclosure.

For the purposes of this section, a "second or subsequent violation for an illegal occupancy" shall be limited to those violations that are new and are a result of distinct and separate zoning or code enforcement activities, and shall not include any continuing violations for which citations are issued by a zoning or code enforcement agent during the time period required for summary dispossession proceedings to conclude if the owner has initiated eviction proceedings in a court of proper jurisdiction.

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