Ridgefield, New Jersey

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Tenant Advocate



    WHEREAS, it has been recognized by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Ridgefield that there is a need to inform tenants of their rights as tenants; and

    WHEREAS, it has been recognized by the Mayor and Council that there are abuses against tenants because of the housing crisis exacerbated in times of economic downturn; and

    WHEREAS, it has been recognized by the Mayor and Council that it is in the public interest to have an informed and educated renting public; and

    WHEREAS, there are times when, due to a tenant’s limited means or knowledge about a tenant’s rights, such rights are not enforced and benefits foregone; and

    WHEREAS, it is beyond debate that it is in the public interest to assure safe and adequate housing to all citizens of the Borough of Ridgefield; and

    WHEREAS, the creation and maintenance of safe and adequate housing is a public concern and purpose, and of utmost interest to the Mayor and Council; and

    WHEREAS, the furtherance of this interest is best served by the creation of a strong Office of Tenant Advocate Attorney;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Ridgefield, Bergen County, New Jersey, as follows:

Section I.    

    A new chapter in the Borough Code, the number and location of which to be determined by the Borough’s Code Publisher, be and hereby is established, to be titled “Tenant Advocate” and to have the following provisions:

§ ______-1: Establishment of the Position of Tenant Advocate; Term; Salary.

    A.    There is hereby established by and within the Borough of Ridgefield the position of Tenant Advocate.

    B.    The Tenant Advocate shall be an attorney at law licensed to practice in the State of New Jersey.

    C.    The Tenant Advocate shall be appointed by the Mayor with the consent of the Council for a term of one year or until the successor is appointed and qualified.

    D.    The salary range for said position shall be established by the Borough’s salary ordinance and the actual salary, within that range, to be determined by the Mayor and Council when the professional services contract is awarded.

§______-2    Duties.

    The duties of said Tenant Advocate shall include, but not be limited to:

    A.    Providing and distributing information to tenants regarding federal, state and municipal laws affecting the rights and duties of landlords and tenants.

    B.    Distributing information specifically dealing with tenants’ legal rights, including information on local legal aid agencies.

    C.    Writing and publishing information pamphlets, leaflets, and/or booklets providing information on tenant/landlord rights and duties in accord with applicable law within the Borough of Ridgefield.

    D.    Promoting, sponsoring and organizing tenants’ rights workshops to disseminate information between tenants and tenant groups and to assist tenants’ rights and to organize to protect tenants’ rights.

    E.    Receiving and forwarding, to appropriate agencies of the Borough, complaints from tenants relating to the administrative action or inaction of any Borough department.

    F.    Referring tenants in the Borough with complaints regarding their tenancies to the appropriate Borough department.

    G.    Providing such reports as may be requested, necessary, or proper, to the Mayor and Council or any Borough department, body or agency regarding tenancies within the Borough of Ridgefield.

    H.    Advising both tenants and landlords as to their rights and obligations flowing from leases, Borough ordinances, and applications and to have such power, authority and/or duties to aid both landlords and tenants to conform with municipal ordinance and state statutes.

    I.    The Tenant Advocate shall be empowered to coordinate various Borough departments in order to ensure the rights, duties and obligations of tenants and landlords and the maintenance of safe and adequate rental housing within the Borough of Ridgefield.

    J.    On behalf of the Mayor and Council, the Tenant Advocate shall have standing to appear, as an interested party, before any department or board of the Borough of Ridgefield, including the Rent Control Board, the Code Enforcement Department, the Health Department, as well as in any administrative, judicial, or alternative dispute resolution proceeding, in regard to any matter dealing with, regarding, or touching upon any landlord- tenant relationship, or the condition of any rental structure or dwelling, within the Borough of Ridgefield.

    K.    Any other ordinance notwithstanding, the Tenant Advocate shall have the right to request an investigation or hearing by any department of the Borough regarding any landlord-tenant relationship, or the condition of any rental structure or dwelling, within the Borough of Ridgefield, unless contrary to any state or federal law.  Any Borough department receiving such request shall conduct hearing or investigation forthwith in accordance with such department’s standards and procedures, upon the receipt of such request from the Tenant Advocate.

    L.    The Tenant Advocate shall have all powers necessary and appropriate to carry out and execute the purposes of this chapter.

    M.    In the absence of a duly appointed Tenant Advocate, or at the request of the Mayor and Council, the Borough Attorney may assume all or any of the duties of the Tenant Advocate. The Borough Attorney may, in turn, delegate such responsibilities to any other attorney under employment or contract with the Borough or any of its boards.
    N.    The Tenant Advocate shall attend all meetings of the Ridgefield Rent Leveling Board.

    O.    The Tenant Advocate shall, when authorized by the Mayor and Council, appear in court proceedings on behalf of tenants. Any such service shall be outside of the annual fee to the Tenant Advocate and be billed on an hourly basis at the same rate as the Borough Attorney.

Section II.    

    The salary ordinance of the Borough of Ridgefield be and hereby is amended by adding to the list of designated positions and salaries the following:

    Tenant Advocate Attorney        Salary Range:  $4,000 to $7,000

Section III.    

This ordinance shall take effect upon final publication according to law.

Section IV:    

All ordinances or parts of ordinances inconsistent or in conflict with this Ordinance are hereby repealed as to said inconsistencies and conflicts.

Section V.

If any section, part of any section, or clause or phrase of this Ordinance is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the remaining provisions of this Ordinance, and each section and subsection thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more of the subsections, sentences, clauses or phrases may be declared unconstitutional or invalid.

Helpful Resources - Tenant Rights

1) Landlord-Tenant Information, State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs:



2) New Jersey Tenants’ Rights Handbook:



3) Tenant Rights, Laws and Protections: New Jersey, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: https://www.hud.gov/states/new_jersey/renting/tenantrights


4) Landlord-Tenant, Legal Services of New Jersey:



5) New Jersey Courts Self-Help Center:



6) Landlord/Tenant Frequently Asked Questions, New Jersey Courts:



Please contact the Rent leveling board secretary Regina McLaughlin at rentleveling@ridgefieldboro.com for any request towards our Tenant Advocate.

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