Rental Property Ordinance Amended - Broken Deals?

Rental Property Ordinance Amended - Broken Deals?

By Manville.Today
April 11, 2024

The last several Borough Council meetings found the mayor and council at odds with several property owners who are also landlords. On point was ordinance - #2021-1232 Providing for Rental Housing Registration Inspection and Permits in the Borough of Manville - which covered the management and oversight of rental properties in town.

From listening to the comments, there appears to be a broken deal between multi-unit landlords with the Council & Mayor. What was promised to multi-unit landlords?

During Monday's meeting, a property owner stated that on Friday, March 1, at 10:30am, he met with Mayor Onderko, Councilwoman Camacho, Acting Zoning Officer/PT Housing & Property Maintenance Inspector Jose Nieves, and former acting-clerk Traci Dillingham. The meeting was reported to be at least 90 minutes.

The landlord held up a very thick file folder full of paperwork. What type of paperwork was inside the folder was not clear. He stated everything in his hand (the file folder) was discussed, and not one of the things discussed for the changes were included in the amended rental ordinance.

Quoting the landlord: "I don't understand how we discussed things, and at the end everybody shook their hands, and said don't worry, we'll take care of it! And there is not one single thing that is in here (ordinance) that is in here (file folder)"

The amended ordinance appears to only lower the fees on the cost per unit for the rental registration ordinance. The Mayor & Council seem focused that this ordinance will make sure all rentals are "safe".

It appears the main problem the landlords have with Manville's Rental Ordinance is that it requires all rental properties to be registered and pay annual fees to the Borough. This includes 3+ unit buildings, which are already registered with the State of NJ, and undergo periodic inspections already with the State.

The landlord also made a remark that the ordinance is basically a "money grab", to which the mayor disagreed. But that is a valid point. What will they do with all the money taken in by this ordinance? And how much money is the Borough expecting this ordinance will generate?

The landlord asked "Why is there an annual registration fee? Can you answer that?" The mayor said "I can probably answer that. To pay for the inspector, the car, the gas milage, and his time to go into all these units to make sure they're safe."

At the end of the discussion period, Mayor Onderko asked Council President Ron Skirkanish "So we're at a crossroads here, guys. I'm going to refer to my council president here. Ron, what do you want to do?" Councilman Skirkanish responded, "Originally we said we weren't going to do anything to compromise…" "I think we can't compromise anymore". The ordinance was then held to a roll call vote, and passed, with Councilwoman Dayna Camacho abstaining.

In addition, there appears to be a conflict between Councilwoman Dayna Camacho (as Chairwoman of the PPP Committee), and this ordinance. Upon voting to adopt the ordinance, the Mayor said Councilwoman Camacho would have to abstain.

While we appreciate Councilwoman Camacho abstaining from a vote that directly impacted her and her family, we are still concerned that she (as Chair of PPP) had direct oversight of drafting the ordinance. Her husband is currently a landlord and would be subject to this ordinance. Lowering fees is a direct benefit and Mrs. Camacho should have recused herself from rewriting the ordinance. Once again, the failure of the mayor and council to be truly transparent is concerning.

Quoting Mayor Onderko before the public portion ended: "Dayna actually has a conflict. She actually owns a building that's affected by this ordinance. So, I don't believe if we vote on this tonight, I don't believe Dayna, will have to.. she'll have to abstain."

From the landlord's displeasure with this ordinance, we don't think this will be the end of the discussion on this matter.