Pay Bills

NJ Housing Bills Would Help Pay Water Bills and Reduce Tenant Taxes


New Jersey families could get help with water bills, tenants could owe less taxes, racist home appraisers could lose their licenses, and shady real estate LLCs could be held accountable, while Lawmakers advanced the bills to a dozen legislative committee meetings Monday during the usual frenzied lame-duck sitting.

Read on to learn more about the bills dealing with housing and affordability issues, which are yet to be passed by both houses in full and signed by Gov. Phil Murphy to become law.

$ 75 million to help pay water bills

New Jersey to set aside $ 75 million in federal stimulus funds to help families pay current or overdue water bills and charges, plumbing repairs and leaks under A5994. The state could model the program on existing aids, such as the low-income home energy assistance program, which helps families cover their heating and air conditioning bills.

“Water should never be considered a luxury; the ability to maintain a safe, affordable and reliable water and sewer service is really essential for public health in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, ”said Renee Koubiadis, director of the poverty reduction program in New Jersey Citizen Action, a grassroots organization supporting the bill.

“Having to depend on bottled water or travel to access laundry when the water is off is another example of a tax on the poor, where it costs more for the basic needs of low-income households”, Koubiadis said. “In 25 days, many households that are protected under a current moratorium against water and sewer cuts will no longer have this protection.”

The bill was withdrawn from the Assembly’s Telecommunications and Utilities Committee by a 7-0 vote.

Another invoice, A6115, would extend the grace period prohibiting water cuts from December 31, 2021 to March 15, 2022.

Real estate estimates discrimination

Appraisers could lose their licenses or be fined if the New Jersey Real Estate Appraiser Board determines that they have racially discriminated against a buyer or seller when appraising a property residential, under S4030. The bill was passed by the committee with a 5-0 vote.

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Increase transparency for LLCs that own residential properties

Cities would have an easier time enforcing local codes and tenants would know who to contact if they face health and safety violations under S672. The bill would require limited liability companies with up to four apartments to disclose the names and addresses of all members of the company when registering property deeds.

“Shell companies that only exist on paper are buying homes in certain neighborhoods,” said Senator Sam Thompson, R-Ocean. “When there are problems, people can’t find anyone to talk to to solve them. Making the names of those responsible available removes the obstacle.

An Asbury Park Press investigation found that New Jersey law allows owners to evade penalties by hiding behind anonymous LLCs, making it difficult for officials to identify owners who rack up health and safety violations.

The full Senate passed the bill in the last session, but the legislation was not passed by the full assembly and had to be reintroduced. The committee proposed the bill by a 5-0 vote.

Lower taxes for tenants

Under S3603, tenants could deduct more rent from their gross income and reduce the amount they owe in taxes.

While landlords can deduct up to $ 15,000 in property taxes, tenants can deduct what is called “rent constituting property taxes,” or 18% of the rent they pay each year. The bill increases the amount of rent that can be considered property taxes from 18% to 30% of the rent paid.

The change could cost the state anywhere from $ 82.6 million to $ 130.5 million per year, according to a non-partisan Office of Legislative Services estimate. Lawmakers approved the bill with a 5-0 vote.

Ashley Balcerzak is a reporter who covers affordable housing and how it intersects with the way we live in New Jersey. For unlimited access to his work, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @abalcerzak