Rooming house bill clears Senate committee

TRENTON – The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee released bill S2559, which would revise the definition of “landlord” in order to make sure rooming and boarding house operators are held to the same standards as other housing landlords, and local ordinances could be applied to them as well.

Sen. Steve Oroho, (R-23), of Sparta, a sponsor of the bill, said Monday the idea came up after it became apparent that local police have limited powers in dealing with people operating rooming houses because the same rules don’t necessarily apply to them as apartment landlords.

His bill would make sure they are included in what he described as the “Animal House” statute.

He said that in Newton, a town in his district, police have visited one rooming house on 77 occasions on various complaints.

Sen. Ron Rice, (D-28), Newark, supported the legislation, calling it a “a good bill.” He said the rooming house problem is pretty big in urban communities, which, he said, compounds the overcrowding and drug abuse problem.

But Stuart Weiner of the Community Health Law Project, which helps many individuals living at such homes, opposed the bill, saying it could have a negative impact upon them. He said facilities are already regulated and licensed by the Department of Community Affairs, which has jurisdiction on rooming houses.

But Sen. Jeff Van Drew, (D-1), of Dennis, pointed out that with shrinking staff at that department, some of the enforcement may be falling through the proverbial cracks.

“At times it’s not happening,” he said. “It’s (the bill) another tool.”

The committee released the following bills with little or no discussion: 

S767: A bill clarifying the effect of abstention by a member of a public body

S1400: A bill requirng the Division of Local Government Services to be provided with a report by local units or authorities concerning lawsuits they may be  involeved in before a budget is approved;

S2114: A bill that would eliminate duplication and redundancy in registration of certain apartments

S2331: A bill requiring that construction permits to install wheelchair ramps be approved within 3 business days

S2447: A bill ensuring that towns will not use eminent domain for redevelopment projects in certain situations

S2607: A bill requiring the Department of Community Affairs to compile information about post-disaster reconstruciton on its website.


Rooming house bill clears Senate committee