Are You Overlooking a Cost-Saving Exemption to DCA Inspections?
By: George C. Greatrex, Jr.
The Failure of a Condominium Association, Cooperative, or Mutual Housing Corporation to Apply for an Exemption to the DCA’s Housing Inspection Obligation Can Be Costly
The Bureau of Housing Inspection, a division of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), is charged with administering the New Jersey Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law. This law requires the Bureau to conduct periodic inspections of these properties in order to ensure that multiple family buildings of four (4) or more dwelling units are properly maintained and do not pose a threat to the health and safety of its residents. Condominium associations, cooperatives, and mutual housing corporations are considered multiple family dwellings for purposes of this law and these inspections.
However, because the intent and application of this law and these inspections is to protect renters of units within these properties, the law provides for an exemption if those units are owner-occupied. Specifically, the law provides that the inspection obligation does not apply to those buildings that: (a) contain not more than four (4) dwelling units; (b) have at least two (2) exterior walls unattached to any adjoining building section and where attached are attached exclusively by fire-resistant rated walls; and (3) contain dwelling units that are owner occupied (if both owner-occupied and non-owner occupied units are contained therein, only the owner-occupied units are exempt). Since the majority of units within most condominium associations and cooperatives are owner-occupied, this drastically reduces the number of units that must be inspected under this law. Typically, the association’s community manager is responsible for setting up the inspections of the rental units (in coordination with the State inspectors), and for ensuring that cited violations are abated. Failure to address and abate cited violations in a timely manner may subject an association to costly fines.
To limit the number of units to be inspected, and thus reduce what would otherwise be a monumental administrative task of organizing inspections of all the dwelling units within an association, it is incumbent on associations to apply for this exemption. This is done by submitting a detailed application to the Bureau of Housing Inspection. These forms and instructions can be obtained by visiting the Bureau’s website by clicking here.
The cycle of these DCA inspections until recently has been every five (5) years. However, as we previously reported, a bill was passed and signed into law on August 5, 2019, which revises the inspection schedule by establishing a three (3) tiered schedule of two (2), five (5), and seven (7) year inspection intervals. Those associations for which no violations are cited or which timely abate all cited violations by the first reinspection will not be scheduled to undergo another inspection for seven (7) years; those which abate all violations by the second or third reinspection will not be scheduled for the next inspection for five (5) years; and those which do not abate all the cited violations by the third reinspection will be scheduled for the next inspection in two (2) years.
An application for exemption of owner-occupied units and timely abatement of cited violations can save your association valuable time, effort, and money. Your association’s legal counsel can help you in this process.
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