Ordinance No. 21-23

Introduced: July 26, 2021
Public Hearing: August 9, 2021
Status: Adopted

An Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Creating Chapter 350 of the Municipal Code of the Township of Vernon Entitled “Long-Term Rentals”

WHEREAS, the Vernon Township Council seeks to regulate the long-term rental of homes and dwelling units throughout Vernon Township (“Township” or “Vernon”) to ensure the health, safety and welfare of Township residents and tenants; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the by the Township Council as follows:

SECTION 1

Chapter 350: Long-Term Rentals shall be created and added to the Municipal Code of the Township as follows:

CHAPTER 350: LONG-TERM RENTALS

ARTICLE I Title; Findings; Definitions; Permit Requirements

§ 350-1. Title.

This chapter shall be known as the “Long-Term Rentals Ordinance of the Township of Vernon’”

§ 350-2. Purpose and Findings.

The purpose of this Chapter is to insure that residential long-term rental units are properly maintained in accordance with the Property Maintenance, Zoning and related codes as well as to protect the property and the health, safety and welfare of the Township residents and tenants.

§ 350-3. Definitions.

Unless the context clearly indicates a different meeting, the following words or phrases when used in this Chapter shall have the following meaning:

AGENT - The individual or individuals designated by the owner as the person(s) authorized by the owner to perform any duty imposed upon the owner by this Chapter.

APARTMENT COMPLEX - Two or more buildings, each containing two or more apartments, which are located within close proximity of each other and are owned by the same owner.

APARTMENT OR DWELLING - Any apartment or other dwelling unit consisting of one or more rooms occupying all or part of a floor or floors in a building, whether designed with or without housekeeping facilities for dwelling purposes and notwithstanding whether the apartment shall be designed for residence, for office or the operation of any industry or business or for any other type of independent use.

LICENSE - The license issued by the Township Clerk or designee attesting that the rental unit has been properly registered in accordance with this article.

LONG-TERM RENTAL- means the accessory use of any dwelling unit, including single-family homes and owner-occupied two-family homes, which is available for lease or rental purposes and is meant to include individual apartments located within apartment complexes for a period of more than thirty (30) days. This shall not include group homes, subsidized senior citizen housing and assisted living units.

OCCUPANT - Any person who resides in a long-term rental unit, other than an occasional guest.

OWNER - Any person or group of persons, firm, corporation, or officer thereof, partnership association, or trust, who owns, operates, exercises control over or is in charge of a long-term rental unit.

SENIOR CITIZEN - Any title owner or spouse who has reached the age of 62.

TENANT OF RECORD - The individual(s) who is/are responsible to pay rent to the owner for a rental unit.

TOWNSHIP - the Township of Vernon.

§ 350-4. Prohibitions on occupancy.

No person shall hereafter occupy any long-term rental unit nor shall the owner permit occupancy of any long-term rental unit within the Township of Vernon which is not registered and licensed in accordance with this Chapter.

§ 350-5. Annual registration required.

All long-term rental units registered with the Township Clerk or such other person as designated by the Mayor on forms which shall be provided for that purpose and which shall be obtained from the Township Clerk or designee. Such registration shall occur on an annual basis as provided herein.

§ 350-6. Registration and licensing at change of occupancy; term; initial registration.

The license term shall commence on August 1st and shall be valid until July 31st of the following calendar year, at which time it shall expire and a new registration shall be required. The initial registration shall occur by August 1, 2021. Any lease which has been executed prior to the adoption of this Chapter shall not be affected, but the long-term rental unit must nevertheless be registered, licensed and inspected in accordance with this Chapter. No long-term rental unit shall hereafter be rented unless the long-term rental unit is registered and licensed in accordance with this Chapter.

§ 350-7. Filing and contents of registration forms.

Every owner shall file with the Township Clerk or designee of the Township of Vernon a registration form for each long-term rental unit which shall include the following information:

  1. The name, address and phone number of the record owner or owners of the premises and the record owner or owners of the rental business if not the same persons. In the case of a partnership, the names and addresses of all general partners shall be provided, together with the phone numbers for each of such individuals indicating where such individual may be reached both during the day and evening hours. If the record owner is a corporation, the name and address of the registered agent and corporate officers of said corporation shall be provided, together with the phone numbers for each of such individuals indicating where such individuals may be reached both during the day and evening hours.
  2. If the address of any record owner is not located in the State of New Jersey, the name and address of a person who resides in the State of New Jersey and who is authorized to accept notices from a tenant and to issue receipts therefor and to accept service of process on behalf of the record owner.
  3. The name, address and phone number of the managing agent of the premises, if any.
  4. The name, address and phone number, including the dwelling unit number of the superintendent, janitor, custodian or other individual employed by the owner or agent to provide regular maintenance service, if any.
  5. The name, address and phone number of an individual representative of the owner or agent who may be reached or contacted at any time in the event of an emergency affecting the premises or any unit of dwelling space therein, including such emergencies as the failure of any essential service or system, and who has the authority to make emergency decisions concerning the building and any repair thereto or expenditure in connection therewith.
  6. The name and address of every holder of a recorded mortgage on the premises.
  7. If fuel oil is used to heat the building and the landlord furnishes the heat in the building, the name, address and phone number of the fuel oil dealer servicing the building and the grade of fuel used.
  8. As to each long-term rental unit, a specification of the exact number of sleeping rooms and kitchen facilities contained in the rental unit. In order to satisfy the requirement of this provision, an owner shall submit a floor plan, which shall become part of the application and which shall be attached to the registration form when filed by the Township Clerk or designee.
  9. All addresses must include the full accurate street address; P.O. box and like information does not satisfy this requirement.
  10. The name of each tenant of record, including the total number of occupants of each long-term rental unit designated by adults and children.
  11. An acceptable affidavit of fire alarm system inspection and test for all premises where a common area automatic fire alarm is required.
  12. An acceptable affidavit of fire sprinkler system inspection and test for all premises where a fire sprinkler system is required.
  13. Such other information as may be required by the Township.

§ 350-8. Indexing and filing or forms.

The Township Clerk or designee shall index and file the registration forms. In doing so, the Township Clerk or designee shall follow the mandates of N.J.S.A. 46:8-28.1. and N.J.S.A. 55:13A-12, as amended and supplemented, so that the filing of the registration form will simultaneously satisfy the registration requirements of N.J.S.A. 46:8-28.1 and N.J.S.A. 55:13A-12 to the extent that it applied to the property being registered and will also satisfy the registration requirements of this article.

§ 350-9. Filing of amended form.

Every person required to file a registration form pursuant to this article, shall file an amended registration form within 45 days after any change in the information required to be included thereon. No fee shall be required for the filing of an amendment except where the tenancy of the premises is changed.

§ 350-10. Periodic Inspections.

  1. Each long-term rental unit shall be inspected at least once every twenty-four-month period. If there are reported issues within a unit or building, then the subject site shall be inspected once every 12 months until two inspections have passed without critical or major issues. Appointments for inspections shall be scheduled at reasonable times and upon notice to the owner and tenant. Newly constructed apartments and/or dwelling units in excess of four rental units are exempt from this inspection for two State of New Jersey licensing periods after the certificate of occupancy is issued, provided that there are no violations filed with the Township Building Department and the property is properly registered and inspected with and by the State of New Jersey as required by the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Code. In addition, owners of long-term rentals with private wells shall have them tested once every five years in accordance with N.J.S.A. 58:12A-32.
  2. Such inspections shall be performed by such person, persons or agency duly authorized and appointed by the Township of Vernon, and inspections made by persons or an agency other than the duly authorized and appointed person, persons or agency of the Township of Vernon shall not be used as a valid substitute.
  3. Such inspection shall be for the purpose of determining Chapter 330 (Land Development compliance and, to the extent applicable, to determine whether the property complies with Chapter 447 (Property Maintenance) and any other municipal code appropriate for the conditions observed.
  4. Unsatisfactory inspection. In the event that the inspection(s) of a long-term rental unit does not result in a satisfactory inspection, such property shall not thereafter be registered, nor shall a license issue, and the owner of the property or his agent shall not lease or rent such property nor shall any tenant occupy the property until the necessary corrections have been made so as to bring the property and long-term rental unit into compliance with the applicable code and the property is thereafter subsequently inspected, registered and licensed. In the event that the property is occupied when such conditions are discovered, all such corrections shall be made within 60 days, and if not made within that time period, the owner shall be deemed in violation of this article, and every day that the violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct violation, subject to the penalty provisions of this article.

§ 350-11. Access for inspection, repairs.

  1. The inspection officers are hereby authorized to make inspections to determine the condition of long-term rental units in order that they may promote the purposes of this article to safeguard the health, safety, welfare of the occupants of rental facilities and rental units and of the general public. For the purposes of making such inspections, the inspecting officers after providing five business days’ notice to the tenant either by posting the notice on the entry to the rental unit or personal service are hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey long-term rental units at all reasonable times. The owner or occupant of every long-term rental unit, upon reasonable notice, shall give the inspecting officer free access to the long-term rental unit at all reasonable times for the purpose of such inspections, examinations and surveys.
  2. Every occupant shall give the owner of the long-term rental unit access to any part of such long-term rental unit and at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such repairs or alterations as are necessary to effect compliance with the provisions of this article or any lawful order issued pursuant thereto.
  3. Complaints. Within 10 days of receipt of a complaint alleging a reported violation of this article, an inspecting officer shall conduct an inspection as herein provided.

§ 350-12. Inspection officers, identification and conduct.

Inspection officers shall be supplied with official identification and shall exhibit such identification when entering any long-term rental unit or any part of any premises subject to this article. Inspectors shall conduct themselves so as to avoid intentional embarrassment or inconvenience to occupants.

§ 350-13. Refusal of entry for inspection; use of search warrants.

  1. Should the inspection officer be denied access, the inspection officer may, upon affidavit, apply to the Judge of the Municipal Court of the Township for a search warrant, setting forth the actual conditions and circumstances that provide a reasonable basis for believing that a nuisance or violation of this article may exist on the premises, including one or more of the following:
    1. The premises requires inspection according to the cycle established by the Township for periodic inspections of premises of the type involved.
    2. Observation of the external condition of the premises and its public areas has resulted in the belief that violations of this article exists.
    3. Circumstances such as age of building, type of building, particular use of premises or other factor make systematic inspections of such building necessary in the interest of public health and safety.
  2. If the Judge of the Municipal Court of the Township is satisfied as to the matter set forth in such affidavit, he shall authorize the issuance of a search warrant permitting access to an inspection of that part or the premises on which the nuisance or violation may exist.
  3. Where the inspection officer or his agent in possession of an administrative warrant is refused entry or access or is otherwise impeded or prevented by the owner, occupant or operator from conducting an inspection of the premises, such person shall be in violation of this article and subject to the penalties hereunder.

§ 350-14. License; review; declaration of moratoriums.

Upon the filing of a completed registration form and payment of the prescribed fee, the owner shall be entitled to the issuance of a license. A registration form shall be required for each rental unit and a license shall issue to the owner for each rental unit, even if more than one rental unit is contained in the property.

§ 350-15. Fees.

  1. At the time of the filing of the registration form and prior to the issuance of a license, the owner or agent of the owner must pay a fee in accordance with the following:
    1. An annual registration fee of $75 per year.
    2. A missed appointment fee of $25 per missed appointment.
  2. If the owner of the property is a senior citizen who resides in a unit of the property and rents out the remaining unit and would otherwise qualify under the State of New Jersey property tax deduction under N.J.S.A. 54:4-8.41, there shall be no fee upon proof of age and residence.
  3. If any fee is not paid within 30 days of its due date, a late fee surcharge of $30 will be assessed.

§ 350-16. Providing registration form to occupants and tenants.

Every owner shall provide each occupant or tenant occupying a long-term rental unit with a copy of the registration form required by this article. This particular provision shall not apply to any hotel, motel or guest house registered with the State of New Jersey pursuant to the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Act as defined in N.J.S.A. 55:13A-3. A copy of the registration certificate must be posted in the kitchen of the rental unit(s).

§ 350-17. Maximum number of occupants; posting.

The maximum number of occupants shall be posted in each long-term rental unit. It shall be unlawful for any person, including the owner, agent, tenant or registered tenant to allow a greater number of persons than the posted maximum number of occupants to sleep in or occupy overnight the rental unit.

§ 350-18. Payments of taxes and other municipal charges required.

No long-term rental unit may be registered or reregistered and no license shall issue for any property containing a rental unit unless all municipal taxes and sewer charges and any other municipal assessments are paid current.

§ 350-19. Other rental unit standards.

All long-term rental units shall be maintained in accordance with the Uniform Construction Code as adopted and amended by the Township of Vernon.

§ 350-20. Occupant standards.

  1. Compliance with other laws. The maintenance of all long-term rental units and the conduct engaged in upon the premises by occupants and their guests shall at all times be in full compliance with all applicable ordinances and regulations of the Township of Vernon and with all applicable state and federal laws.
  2. Penalties. Any landlord, tenant or other person violating the provisions of this section shall be subject to the penalty provisions of this article.

§ 350-21. Violations and penalties.

Any landlord or occupant who violates any provision of this article will be liable for a fine of $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days. Each day that a violation occurs shall be deemed a separate and distinct violation and subject to penalty provisions of this article.

SECTION 2

Each section of this ordinance is an independent section, and the holding of any section or part thereof to be unconstitutional, void or ineffective for any cause shall not be deemed to affect the validity of constitutionality of any other sections or parts thereof.

SECTION 3

Any ordinances or parts thereof in conflict with the provisions of this Ordinance are hereby repealed as to their inconsistencies only.

SECTION 4

This Ordinance shall take effect immediately as provided by law.