Despite Out of Reach, Senate to Vote on Bill Targeting Renters
Legislation Penalizes Residents in Need of Affordable Living


A bill that would impose additional fines for overcrowding in residential rental units is scheduled for a vote before the full state Senate on Monday, May 23.  The Housing and Community Development Network of NJ and many other housing advocates oppose the bill, as it penalizes renters who are most in need of affordable homes.

"Overcrowding is a direct result of people lacking homes they can afford,” said Staci Berger, director of policy and advocacy for the Network.  "This bill moves New Jersey’s housing policy backwards, penalizing the lowest income renters instead of encouraging the creation of more rental homes, which would balance our housing market and lower rents.  Under this bill, only tenants are penalized and many may be forced out on the street."

The bill, sponsored by Senators Bucco and Gill, authorizes a municipality to adopt an ordinance imposing additional fines for overcrowding against an owner-landlord or the tenant, or both in buildings of four or fewer residential rental units in the amount of up to $2,500 for a first violation, $5,000 for a second violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.  According to the bill, although it purports to make both landlords and tenants subject to prosecution, subsections within it allow landlords to file a “notice to cease” and commencing proceedings to evict the tenants, escaping penalty.  

"This is a lose-lose for renters," said Berger.  "They'll either have to pay an excessive fine or be made homeless.  The Out of Reach 2011 report showed there is a crisis in rental affordability.  The Senate should be voting on bills that create affordable homes rather than spend their time on bad policies that punish our more vulnerable residents."

To view a letter sent to the full Senate addressing the drawbacks of the overcrowding bill, visit  Learn more about Out of Reach 2011 by visiting,

For more information:  
Nina Arce
(609) 393-3752 x12
(609) 789-7900
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