Senator Madden Introduces Legislation to Increase Transparency In Senior Renting

Senator Madden introduced legislation on Thursday, July 26 that would require landlords of senior housing projects to provide written notice to tenants that rent increases are not unreasonably excessive.

Many people struggle to make ends meet, but seniors, many of whom live on a fixed-income, are hit especially hard with any increase in the cost of living. There are programs to help seniors with some cost of living increases including the Property Tax Reimbursement, the Homestead Benefit, and the $250 senior property tax deduction, but none of these programs apply to seniors who are not homeowners.

Currently, a landlord is permitted to increase rent annually by the lesser of 3% or the Consumer Price Index in New Jersey without any explanation. So for example, a renter who is paying $1000 per month this year could stand to see his or her rent increase by up to $30 per month next year, or a total of $360 over the entire year. This proposed legislation would require the landlord of a senior citizen housing project (a building with three or more dwelling units, renter- or owner-occupied, that are intended for and solely occupied by senior citizens) to provide a written explanation as to why rent is being increased.

Specifically, this explanation would describe why the rent increase is not unreasonably excessive; confirm that the increase complies with municipal ordinances, and other applicable laws; and list any expenses associated with the tenant’s unit and common areas of the property that have contributed to the need for the rent increase.

By ensuring that landlords of senior citizen housing projects have justification for rent increases, this legislation will help to increase transparency in the tenant-landlord relationship.