A new state mandate will force Lavallette — and presumably other communities — to spend what officials have described as significant resources to create and maintain a database of rental properties in the borough.
Lavallette officials were recently briefed on the new state policy that directs municipal governments to create and maintain a database of available rental properties in the city. Although the policy is part of an effort by Trenton lawmakers to promote tenants’ rights and reduce what some see as housing discrimination in certain circumstances, resort communities with short-term rentals are not excluded from the requirement.
“Rental properties are mandated by the governor’s office to be registered by the city, and you must have proof of liability insurance filed with the city,” Councilwoman Joanne Filippone said. “For us, we have to identify the properties – some go through estate agents, some don’t – we have to register the property, and the owner has to bring us proof of insurance.”
In addition to the mandate itself, Filippone said, the borough was only recently briefed on the policy, with the state setting a Nov. 7 deadline for implementing the system. To complicate matters further, District Attorney Phillip G. George said the state requires the database to be “immediately accessible electronically,” presumably on the Internet.
It is unlikely that such a system, which will require manpower and the creation of a computerized database which will have to be purchased, will be ready for implementation by the deadline of 7 november.
“I see it will take next year just to put it on the books,” Mayor Walter LaCicero said.
A set of bills recently signed by Gov. Phil Murphy raise the insurance floor in many sectors, including for car owners and business owners – but also for rental property owners. The law requires landlords to maintain at least $500,000 (or $300,000 for owner-occupied multi-family rental properties) in liability insurance for death or personal injury.
While some municipalities maintain a version of a list of rental properties at the town hall, many do not, and it has never been an explicit requirement to do so. Along with the new insurance requirements comes a new rental registration requirement.
“This is a major project that will require a lot of work from many people to get started,” Filippone said. “It’s every year, by the way, and there’s no state money to do it. In my mind, we’re going to need an employee to handle this, at least in this moment.
Filippone said she will continue to work with the borough clerk’s office, the borough attorney, and possibly start reaching out to private business owners to determine how such a system can be tinkered with.