Protecting Low-Income Renters from Evictions and Housing Discrimination

Two NJ Senate Bills Address Barriers to Affordable Rental Housing for Low-Income Renters

The New Jersey State Senate and Assembly are considering two pieces of legislation that would assist very low-income renters in New Jersey in leasing affordable apartments.

These bills would both prevent and work to end homelessness.

Senate Bill 3036 codifies and enhances use of breach of implied warranty of habitability as defense to certain eviction actions.

S3036 has been sent to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. Senators Richard Cody (D-27) and Ronald Rice (D-28) have co-sponsored S3036.

The Assembly version – A4610 – is sponsored by Assemblymembers John McKeon (D-27) and Mila Jasey (D-27).

Senate Bill 3037 would establish:

  • confidentiality of landlord-tenant court records;
  • addresses adverse actions on rental applications.
  • In addressing issues around tenant screening, this legislation commits to preventing potential landlords not being able to go back and review evictions after three years.

S3037 has also been sent to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. Senators Richard Cody (D-27), Ronald Rice (D-28), and Brian Stack (D-33) have co-sponsored S3037.

The Assembly version – A4612 – is sponsored by Assemblymembers John McKeon (D-27) and Mila Jasey (D-27).

Advocates for the homeless who every day try to assist families in finding affordable housing support both pieces of critical legislation.

“Many landlords utilize tenant screening companies as part of their rental application process. Many times, the tenant screening reports contain incomplete, incorrect or misleading information that can result in the denial of housing to an otherwise qualified prospective tenant,” says Geleen Donovan, Executive Director, Family Promise – Union County. “Senate Bill 3037 will ensure fair tenant screening practices for New Jersey residents. Senate Bill 3036 will provide protection against eviction for a tenant who is dealing with habitability issues with a landlord. Together, these bills will offer a more just process for tenants seeking an affordable place to live.”

“Families with low income fight many battles to survive, but thanks to Senate Bills 3036 and 3037, they will have more opportunities to rent homes that are affordable,” says Linda Flores-Tober, Executive Director, Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. “Currently, when tenants are blacklisted because of long past eviction histories, they are effectively shut out from the housing market. Everyone deserves an equal chance to have a place called home. An eviction should not be treated like a permanent criminal record.”

On a very related note, April 27, 2017, NJ.com reported “’No Section 8: N.J. warns landlords over discriminatory apartment ads.”

The state Division of Civil Rights is cracking down by sending “more than 30 ‘cease and desist’ letters to New Jersey landlords and property managers they say ran afoul of housing discrimination laws by telling those who receive federal rental assistance they need not apply.”

A recent rental advertisement specifically stated “No Section 8.”

“State and federal law prohibit refusing housing to anyone based on a legitimate source of rental income. But according to the state Attorney General’s Office, civil rights investigators found a series of postings on Craigslist, the popular classified ad website, doing exactly that.”

No Section 8: N.J. warns landlords over discriminatory apartment ads

S3036 and A4610

S3037 and A4612

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