Is something going on in your municipality that affects private property rights or the real estate industry? We can help!
Every year, NJ Realtors® tackles local issues head-on, helping communities fend off invasive ordinances limiting their private property rights or proposals that restrict your business as a Realtor®.
With help from the local boards/associations, NJ Realtors® has worked on issues that affect towns across the state - whether it was to defeat a harmful law or to support a bill that helps homeowners.
Below are some of the local issues NJ Realtors® has worked on recently:
For over a decade, NJ Realtors® has been a strong advocate for in support of increasing affordable housing available throughout the state. Everyone, regardless of income, deserves the right to a home and working with state legislators has eased the financial burden for many throughout the years.
The Council on Affordable Housing operated under the Department of Community Affairs and regulates affordable housing within municipalities, abiding by the Fair Housing Act.
How does this impact you?
After a prolonged battle, Gov. Christie released a set of new affordable housing standards for each municipality to meet throughout New Jersey. The new regulations replaced expired ones and calls for an additional 110,000 units across the state. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that municipalities must provide a “fair share” of affordable homes for their poorest residents. Studies show that 36,000 to 60,000 such homes have been built in the interim, according to nj.com.
Municipalities must determine how to abide by the new fair share rules and provide new or rehabilitated residences for their poorest constituents.
Realtors® should be aware of the requirements in each municipality where they work. While the battle over affordable housing is far from over in New Jersey, the eventual effects of it will certainly impact property values.
Signs are a top tool in a Realtors®’ quiver. Open House and For Sale signs are important to help market properties. So, over the years, when a local government plans to implement sign ordinances that are prohibitive, the government affairs department has stepped in.
NJ Realtors® has worked with officials in each of the municipalities below to advocate for ordinances with allow signs or defeat those with prohibit them. Check with your local government for specific rules regarding postings.
- Fair Haven
- Fort Lee
- Freehold Township
- Hope Township
- Little Silver
- New Milford
- Point Pleasant Beach
Keeping houses up to code is necessary to make sure property values stay on the up-and-up.
In 2008, Franklin Township put an ordinance up for a vote that would have required a cost for properties being sold to be inspected and obtain a Certificate of Continued Building Compliance before a sale would be finalized. The unnecessary financial burden, as well as increased time it would take to close on a property, would have had a negative impact on the real estate industry.
NJ Realtors® and the CORE Association of Realtors® argued against this and, ultimately, the council tabled the ordinance.
Afterwards, in 2009, a revision to the property maintenance code was amended thanks to efforts from NJ Realtors® and H/SAR, which exempted residential properties from having to obtain the above certificate upon transfer and nonresidential properties were relieved from this burden until 2010.
Point Pleasant Beach
The debate over parking has been a hot button issue in Point Pleasant Beach for years. With the help of NJ Realtors®, a prohibitive parking ordinance was eventually tabled in 2009, after much discussion. Even after a new, restrictive plan was instituted in 2012, Ocean County denied enforcement of the ordinance in certain areas.
In 2009, requests to amend a permit parking plan in Asbury Park were made on behalf of NJ Realtors® and the Monmouth County Association of Realtors®, who were both concerned about the impact on seasonal tourism, as well as homeowners.
When an ordinance in clear violation of Megan’s Law was put on the books in Freehold, the association and local members were quick to voice concerns.
Due to the result of the outcry from local Realtors® in Freehold when an ordinance that required sellers of a landlord renting residential dwellings located in “prohibited areas” of Freehold Township to certify that a potential lessor or purchaser was not a convicted sex offender who is listed on the registry website. The ordinance also would have prohibited real estate brokers and others from allowing someone to move into the property unless the certificate of compliance had been filed.
This was a clear violation of Megan’s Law, where local police are responsible for notifying the county prosecutor about the whereabouts of registered sex offenders. The county prosecutor would then determine which homeowners should be notified.
Cherry Hill & Galloway
Two municipal ordinances were overruled in the state appeals court in 2008 regarding restricting where sex offenders could live. The ordinances would have prohibited sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of various places, such as daycare centers, schools, parks or playgrounds. In an effort to validate Megan’s Law as the exclusive sex offender law in the state, the ruling may affect nearly 100 other towns’ similar sex offender ordinances.
Government affairs teams from the state and Sussex County Association of Realtors® were effective in helping defeat an ordinance, here, that would have required applications for site plans and subdivisions to include Resource Conservation Calculations and Environmental Impact Statements. There were concerns the costs associated with these requirements would be passed along to the purchasing property and, ultimately, a drop in property values as well as increased costs to property owners.
Certificate of Occupancy
Utilizing funds from the Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee, local Realtors® were able to reach out to town residents and officials regarding a proposed increase in certificate of occupancy fees and alteration/renovation permit fees. Fearing the implementation of this would be a disincentive for improvements of properties, the association reached out by distributing flyers and urging residents to attend key meetings.
NJ Realtors® and local members testified before the town council and the onerous increase was not adopted into law.
When the increase in certificates of approval, fire inspection and code compliance was adopted in 2012, NJ Realtors® and the Middlesex County Association of Realtors® advocated for the huge increases to at least be spread out over a period of time.
In response to our advocacy efforts, the council adopted an ordinance that created a three-year phase-in plane of all of the fee increases.
More than a year of hard work paid off in New Brunswick when the council finally pulled back an ordinance regarding bulk pickup. The ordinance would have levied fines against property owners and landlords if they or their tenants placed any items curbside for pickup in May and June each year.
NJ Realtors® and the Middlesex County Association of Realtors® offered amendments and alternatives to the process instead of the fines. Eventually, in March of 2012, the proposed ordinance was officially rescinded.
Working with the Warren County Board of Realtors®, New Jersey Realtors® raised concerns to an ordinance that would have created a system of rent control in Phillipsburg. New Jersey Realtors® raised concerns that rent control would make it more difficult for owners to keep their properties in good condition and actually lead to a lack of quality rental housing. The ordinance, while passed by the Council by one vote, was vetoed by the town’s Mayor, ensuring it would not take effect.
One of the three main areas New Jersey Realtors® always engages in at the local (and other levels) of government is private property rights. Recently many towns across New Jersey have put forward ordinances that would restrict the ability of homeowners to rent out their homes on a short-term basis. This represents a concern for New Jersey Realtors®, who have raised alternatives to address quality-of-life issues such as short-term rental registrations and a three-strikes policy for short-term rentals.
Working with our local boards/associations, New Jersey Realtors® has been able to defeat ordinances that would have restricted short-term rentals in Absecon and Cherry Hill.