Both chambers of the legislature unanimously approved a bill that will end the state’s moratorium on evictions while providing hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance for rent and utility payments and limiting rent payments among certain residents.
The measure, sponsored by State Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City) and Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange), was the subject of intense negotiation in recent weeks as concerns over the fallout months of missed rental payments would have on New Jersey’s small landlords and the effect an abrupt lifting of the moratorium would have on its renters.
“This past year has been some of the hardest times in most people’s lives. I’ve been desperately trying to help my constituents in Union City since the very beginning of the pandemic, and have heard first hand all that they have gone through,” Stack said. “We have to recognize that includes many landlords, especially those with only a few tenants, who are also struggling to pay their own bills.
Under the bill, the block on evictions would lift on Aug. 31 for residents making more than 80% of their area’s income, but protections for poorer tenants will stay in place until the new year.
It presents $500 million in financial aid, funded by federal dollars, for tenants and limits rental obligations for those making less than 80% of their area to 30% of their household’s income.
Subsidies would pay the full remaining balance for troubled renters making less than 30% of their area’s income, while aid payments for residents making between 30% and 50% or 50% and 80% would receive subsidies of up to $800 and $500, respectively.
“Many are struggling to figure out how to make up for past rent payments as the state begins to re-open over a year after the declaration of the state of emergency,” said State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark), another sponsor. “Individuals should not have to worry about being displaced as the state, itself, is working to get back on its feet. This legislation will provide residents a means of rent assistance and eviction protection while allowing property owners to recuperate the money lost due to missed payments.”
The bill also bars landlords from informing credit reporting agencies, debt collectors and other landlords about a tenant’s failure to pay rent during the pandemic.