A new state mandate will force Lavallette – and, presumably other communities – to expend what officials described as significant resources to create and maintain a database of rental properties in the borough.
Lavallette officials were notified of the new state policy recently that orders municipal governments to create and maintain a database of rental properties available in town. While the policy is part of an effort by legislators in Trenton to promote tenants’ rights and curtail what some see as housing discrimination in certain circumstances, resort communities with short-term rentals are not excepted from the requirement.
“Rental properties are mandated by the governor’s office to be registered by the town, and you have to have proof of liability insurance filed with the town,” said Councilwoman Joanne Filippone. “For us, we have to identify the properties – some go through realtors, some do not – we have to register the property, and the property owner has to bring us proof of insurance.”
In addition to the mandate itself, Filippone said, the borough was only recently notified of the policy, with the state setting a deadline of Nov. 7 for the system to be implemented. Making matters even more complicated, Borough Attorney Phillip G. George said the state is requiring the database to be “immediately accessible electronically,” presumably on the internet.
It is unlikely such a system, which will require manpower and the creation of a computerized database that will have to be purchased, could feasibly be ready for implementation by the Nov. 7 date guideline.
“I see this taking the next year just to get it on the books,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero.
A package of bills recently signed by Gov. Phil Murphy raise the floor of insurance in many sectors, including for car owners and business owners – but also rental property owners. The law requires landlords maintain at least $500,000 (or $300,000 for multi-family rental properties that are owner-occupied) in liability insurance for death or bodily injury.
While some municipalities maintain some version of a list of rental properties at town hall, many do not, and it was never an explicit requirement to do so. With the new insurance requirements come the new rental registration requirement.
“This is a major project that is going to take a lot of work by a lot of people to get off the ground,” said Filippone. “This is every year, by the way, and there is no money from the state to do this. In my mind, we’re going to need an employee to handle just this, at least right now.”
Filippone said she would continue working with the office of the borough clerk, borough attorney and perhaps begin reaching out to private business owners to determine how such a system can be cobbled together.