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  • NJ A4612
  • Establishes confidentiality of landlord-tenant court records; addresses adverse actions on rental applications.
Introduced
(2/27/2017)
In Committee
(2/27/2017)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill would preserve the confidentiality of the court records of landlord-tenant actions under certain circumstances. The bill defines the term "court records" expansively to include any record containing information regarding a past or current landlord-tenant action, and any record of the filing of a landlord-tenant action. The bill defines the term "landlord-tenant action" as any action brought by or against a landlord or tenant in the Special Civil part of the New Jersey Superior Court. The bill specifically provides that the court record of a landlord-tenant action will remain confidential and unavailable to the public for the first 60 days after and including the date the action is filed. Under the bill, the court record of a landlord-tenant action will remain confidential and unavailable to the public indefinitely unless the action results in a judgment for possession. The bill provides that if a landlord-tenant action results in an unconditional judgment for possession, the court record of the action will become public on the later of the 61st day after the date the action was filed or within 45 days after the date the matter is completely resolved. However, if the matter is appealed by either party, the court record remains confidential and unavailable to the public until the conclusion of the appeal, and will only be made available to the public if the landlord prevails. The bill also provides that the court record of a landlord-tenant action will remain confidential and unavailable to the public although a judgment for possession has been entered, if the judgment is subject to conditions that, if met by the tenant, may result in the judgment being vacated and the matter dismissed. However, if the court finds, after notice to the tenant and an opportunity to be heard, that the conditions have not been met, the court record shall be made available to the public at the conclusion of an appeal or an opportunity to appeal the judgment. Under the bill, the court record of a landlord-tenant action will remain confidential and unavailable to the public after entry of a judgment for possession if the tenant files a timely order to show cause seeking to vacate the judgment prior to being physically locked out of the housing unit. In this circumstance, the court record will remain confidential and unavailable to the public until the order to show cause is resolved, and will remain confidential and unavailable to the public if the tenant prevails. The bill provides that the court record of any cause of action brought by a tenant asserting a legal right against a landlord will remain confidential and unavailable to the public indefinitely, regardless of whether the tenant prevails, unless the tenant voluntarily consents to making the court record available to the public. The bill also addresses the use of court records by landlords when evaluating prospective tenants. The bill prohibits a landlord, when evaluating a prospective tenant, from considering a landlord-tenant action brought by or against a tenant that did not result in a judgment for possession, or which did result in a judgment for possession but was then dismissed or reversed. The bill also prohibits landlords from considering a judgment for possession that was entered and executed against a prospective or existing tenant three or more years prior to the tenant's application for tenancy. Additionally, the bill would require a landlord who takes an adverse action on a rental application to provide written notice of the adverse action to the prospective tenant, stating the reasons for the adverse action. The adverse action notice must disclose any screening information about the prospective tenant accessed by the landlord, and must append any screening report about the prospective tenant that was accessed by the landlord. The bill would authorize imposition of a penalty on a landlord who violates the bill's provisions concerning the improper screening of tenants. Specifically, the bill provides that in addition to any other penalty provided by law, a landlord will be liable for a penalty of not less than $1,000 for a first offense, and not less than $5,000 for a second and each subsequent offense, plus reasonable attorney fees. This penalty would be exclusive of, and in addition to, any moneys or property ordered to be paid or restored to any person in interest.
Not specified
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee  (on 2/27/2017)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
2/27/2017 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified